Tuesday 24 September 2013

Hardmoors 60 (and the rest)

I entered this event before I'd even considered the ring of fire and had been quite looking forward to it. I love the opportunity to explore new places and I've never been to Yorkshire where this event is set.

My work colleagues are getting used to my responses when asked what I'm doing at the weekend being slightly out of the norm, but when I replied "just a 100k race this week" it still received the same questions of "why?"

The why for me is that I get to visit amazing places I wouldn't normally go and push myself in ways I wouldn't normally do, with the hope of achieving the (sometimes) impossible.

It has only been 3 weeks since the Ring of Fire and I've been high as a kite since then, although I spent a week hobbling round on a fat cankle which I was concerned may be a stress fracture - fortunately an xray showed up nothing although it still hurt. In these three weeks I've done pretty much nothing in the way of running, but the intention was 2 weeks rest, which I dutifully did, and before finalising transport and accommodation I went for a little spin round my local trail and was surprised at how bouncy I felt! The ankle felt fine, the groin twinged a bit (not like that) but my outer thigh hurt where I'd drunkenly cycled back to the station from the pub and fallen off  then being woken up by the train manager in London after missing my stop. Fail.

Anyhow, back to the race. This one as the name suggests is 60 miles in the north Yorkshire moors, it's worth 2 UTMB points, so it was never going to be an easy 60. Especially with 3500m of ascent and a pretty tight cut off of 16 hours. The route take on part of the Cleveland way which is largely a coastal trail, I knew a few people who were doing it from the Spine Race so was looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and catching up on their adventures.

In my brain 60 miles seemed highly manageable after the last race, I mean - I would be starting fresh and I can just stop at the end and that's it. Done. Right?

I arranged my logistics so that as I was in the London office on Friday (and a tad hungover) I would get a train out to Peterborough to rent a car and drive up to Scarborough from there and hence saving about 3 extra hours in the car. Also the added bonus that I could drop in to see Penny and David on the way up and back. I got to P & D's to drop off my valuables that I didn't want to leave in the car overnight and was "talked into" having dinner. If anyone remembers PENNY'S AMAZING CHOCOLATE CAKE from my TR24 report a few years ago, you will maybe be aware how amazing her cooking is. So obviously I couldn't turn it down.

I eventually headed up to Scarborough to find my hostel, half an hour into the drive I realised I'd left my charger in my laptop bag - at P & D's. I looked at the phone - 33% battery - my phone is a guzzler, and the mandatory kit stated that a fully charged phone must be carried. So I stopped off to pick up an in car charger. I arrived at the hostel around 11:30pm to find the doors locked up... hmmm..... I went round the back and saw there was someone inside and pushed the door open. He said the reception fella was in bed so I wasn't really sure what to do. I went upstairs and tried a few doors, until I found one unlocked. Poked my head round the door to find a guy in bed reading with a headtorch on. I explained what had happened and asked if I could pinch one of the bunks, we introduced ourselves - his name was Lawrence and was also doing the race - and getting up at 4am!! Waaaa!

I got myself sorted and settled into a fitful sleep to be awakened at 4, I snoozed until about 4:30 and decided to get up, I had to be at Filey School before 5:40 in order to get the coach to the start at Guisborough.

Packing my kit I soon discovered I'd forgotten my headtorch (another item of mandatory kit) I was wondering if they'd let me start on the assumption that I'd pull out when I got to a check point nearing darkness. I didn't think this would wash. So I hurriedly pack my stuff and set off early in search of a 24 hour garage. What I found was even better - a 24 hour Tescos - perfect - I could buy some breakfast too.

So headtorch and breakfast and a cheeky iced bun for my drop bag later I'm at Filey School and waiting eagerly for the bus where I spot JZ of the Spine fame. We get on the bus and chat about the adventures we've been having, which we're planning. He began trying to convince me that attempting the full spine race would be a great idea! (it's a bad idea) in fact, on my drive up, I decided it's about time I wrote up that experience so I'll do that soon :)

We arrived at the registration, signed on, had kit checked, and before we knew it, it was time to go! I was feeling pretty good and excited to get going, let's see what the day has in store.

JZ, myself and his friend Nigel teamed up and started chatting and running together, almost immediately we hit a climb which took us to Highcliff Nab - I'd read somewhere that the first 3 miles climbs 1000ft - whilst it wasn't totally destroying at this stage it was a harsh start!

We ran along at a fairly decent pace for the first 10 miles, getting a little carried away at the potential finish times. It was too early days to be looking at that yet! Rob (another Spiner) also joined us and the 4 of us trotted along happily for a while, enjoying the nice trails, lots of  steps which came and went seemed so harmless in these early miles. I was being careful to keep grazing and sipping, so I didn't bonk and it was paying off. The weather was amazing! Gorgeous clear skies, a slight breeze and the sun beaming down no us.

After the first main checkpoint, I felt a bit crappy - maybe I'd eaten too much flapjack, JZ, Nigel and I left Rob at the checkpoint as he was with his Mrs so said he'd catch us up.

We then had an almighty steep climb up some steps - not the steps you get in the street, these are giant size steps with uneven spacing between and an extra lip that trips you up if you don't lift your leg quite high enough. These are interspersed with steps carved out of the mud on off camber pieces of ground. I reached the top to see the other two had made got quite far ahead of me; well about 50 meters but that's a fair amount to catch up after a leg burning climb. I let my legs flush out before trotting on to see if I could catch them.

I wasn't feeling too good so I just ran at my own pace for a while, assuming they'd now gone - which was fine. I was thinking perhaps I'd set off a little quick so best to put something back in the tank. The weather was really hotting up and I was really feeling it.

After a couple more ridiculous climbs of steps - the downs were as painful as the ups - I found JZ and Nige at the top waiting for me, I said to them to carry on, and I'd catch them later as I wasn't able to keep up at the moment so they trotted off and I followed behind at a slower pace, slightly glad of less pressure to keep up.

The next 15 or 20 miles were a bit of non descript, I was feeling a bit "can't be assed" and was having thoughts like, I could just do 30 and go home, 30 is enough isn't it? I don't know what got into me, my heart just wasn't really in it. I was feeling a bit of pressure on the pace as the cut offs were pretty tight so there was no time to enjoy the scenery or take photos (which is why there aren't any) I was struggling with the heat too and started to feel burnt so put my cap on to stop a week of peeling forehead!

There was some confusion entering one of the towns so I had to do a map check - which I'd much rather do than wander aimlessly, got back on track and carried on. The route passed over a beach and up a waterfall type thing, which I regret not getting a picture of now as it was stunning!

Heading into Whitby and I'd done about 30 miles now, I was halfway and not in too bad a time - a sub 7 hour 30 over that terrain was good for me. That was a good landmark and started to feel more positive again, I gave myself a slap for having lazy thoughts and told myself off, what is the point in entering events if you can't be assed to finish.

Whitby was a horrid place for a runner, it was crawling with stoppers (stoppers for those who don't know are people who mindlessly stop right in front of you; the types you get in busy London streets) the narrow streets were littered with tourists with dogs on trip wires. I showed that I didn't care by trotting through smiling like a crazy person, not really sure which way I should be heading, until I saw a sign which said "199 steps" - I recalled someone mentioning this. I found them and climbed on up - these weren't so bad after all - they were concrete ones so very much pedestrian friendly.

When I got to the top, I stumbled back across JZ and Nigel who'd found an ice cream van and were tucking into cans of coke and I presume 99 flakes. Nigel had been suffering badly from cramp but we all ran on again towards the next check point which was to be at about 37 miles or so. We were running on fairly well now, and catching people and overtaking, chatting as we went. More sets of steps took as up and down the cliffs, the legs were starting to hurt with them now! Nige was really struggling with cramp and not in the greatest of moods but still carried on, although JZ and I had to force him to run.

We pulled into the checkpoint where there was soup and hot drinks and salt, all had a little sit down, refuelled and then got on our way to the next check point which was just 5 miles away. My legs felt stiff after a few minutes sitting down but it wasn't long before we were climbing again up a monster of a hill into Ravenscar where we picked up a few more runners, Nigel seemed to be getting worse but still, kept going onto the next checkpoint where we topped up our water and snacks for the next stage to Scarborough, which was a long 11 miles.

We set off and before long it became apparent Nigel really wasn't well, he was complaining he felt feverish and his core temperature was too high, I pointed out that he was running, of course it would be high, but he insisted that he doesn't sweat even running in the heat, he was struggling to run at all and before long he'd stopped and puked up what could have been his entire stomach contents.

We let him recover and realised that looking at the miles we had left and the time in which to do it wasn't looking good to make the cut off. The sun would be setting in the next hour so I suggested we ran until the sun set as after dark we'd naturally slow so JZ and I took in turns setting the pace in the front and stopping to wait for Sick Boy to catch up, he really wasn't up for running and I'm sure he wanted to smack us in the face everytime we set off again, but I was impressed by his ability to carry on.

Sick Boy made the decision to pull out at the next checkpoint and that we should run on and leave him. Of course we weren't going to do that to someone in that state, so we slowed the pace down and let him attempt recovery.

The sun set a beautiful sunset and the moon rose beautiful and orange shining with a moustached of clouds reflecting across the sea, I so wanted to take some photos but we had no time. As we were trekking through some spooky woods with yet more steps, I pulled out my trusty Tesco flashlight and was impressed that it was actually pretty decent for ten quid!

There was still a long way to go before the checkpoint at Scarborough and time was getting away, but Nige wasn't in any state to run. So we walked on and got caught up by another trailing group. We all teamed up for a while, one of the was intermittently heaving up his guts so I skipped past him so I didn't run through a pile. The guy who took the lead of the group set a crazy fast marching pace, but miraculously Sick Boy was able to keep up, whilst I had to keep running to keep up! It was a bit of an annoying pace, I'd rather have just run, not runrunrunrunrunrun......walk....runrunrunrunrunrun......walk but we were making better progress now.

We were getting closer to scarborough now and the CP list said it was at 51 miles in, we'd done 50 now so it must be close, we walked along a twisty trail  and all of a sudden the hills filled with the sound of horror... the sound of a man being attacked by a wild boar and falling from a cliff, the sound of a man falling and yelling for help!

We all stopped dead, to see the kerfuffle, one of the group was on the floor yelling "Cramp! Cramp! push my toes back!" a couple of the guys helped him

I immediately got the giggles - I know I shouldn't have but the drama that went on was a bit excessive. At first I'd thought he'd fallen into the thistle bushes he was near which would have been painful! I tried to urge Nige on past - they were blocking the whole trail and we were running out of time. Once more the world filled with terror and screaming, and the man seemed to have been electrocuted into a stiff horizontal state and again I just couldn't help my giggles.

I don't know what had gotten into me, I think I'd been getting grumpy upto this point but we then all carried on and the group split as some of them met up with support crews as we dropped into Scarborough. We could see far in the distance round the cliffs that we had  a long way to go to the checked point, the current mileage said we should be there and inside the cut off but reality was we had 3 miles to go and 25 mins to get there. I joked that if we could do 8 min miles we'd make it, JZ reckoned we could, Nige didn't want to run on the tarmac so we just trudged our way there, he was still talking about pulling out here.

I was getting grumpy about the mileage being wrong and probably missing the cut off, we finally made it there (54 miles in case you wondered!) and although we were outside the cut off they said we could carry on. It was only 9 more miles to the end and I said to Nige that he should do it, it was silly to pull out now and we could walk it back in.

The next 3 hours, I'd like to erase from my memory.
I was an utter misery. The hills were insanely hard to get up, the steps were making my face contort, the incorrect mileage was pissing me off, I stomped behind like a spoiled teenager, huffing and puffing, grumbling every time new steps appeared. A couple of miles up was a pointless part of trail which was a whole load of steps down to the cliff edge along the coastal path a couple of hundred yards then back up another set off steps to find ourselves only 100m down the road we'd left to go down! (there was a marshal there checking that people didn't cheat here)

I was walking along, seeing things which weren't there, I was so tired that I was sleep walking, I just wanted to be in, off this stupid trail and in my sleeping bag. But no, the trail went on and on and on. I could see Filey in the distance but we'd gone past it!

I checked the mileage - we'd done 61 miles, we should be finished by now, but the trail went on. I moaned to myself, the guys were ahead of me still, probably wanting to slap me in the moody face!
We did what felt like more pointless detours searching for a self clipping check point which we never found, and ambled along. I hadn't eaten since Scarborough but was too tired to and it wasn't far now, I didn't need to. Getting more angry that we still weren't back and we'd done 63 miles now I stamped my feet like a brat!

Eventually we came to the golf course and Nige said it was just  up there where those lights are and then a right turn and we're home. I could see the lights but as we walked they weren't getting any closer. It took forever to get there all the time my grumbling mardy face stuck in a big old frown.

We finally came up to the lights and turned up the road to the school, every step was an effort, I was sure I'd never been this tired before. The finish was past the car park and round the other side of the school, I had the car key with me, I wasn't going to go in, then come back to the car. No way was I walking any further since checking the mileage and just being shy of 65 miles! I stopped at the car and got my sleeping bag and a few bits walked to the school hall with the guys in a daze and walked into see Jon and anyone who was awake cheering us back. We received our finishers tshirts, and were offered food and coffee. I wasn't sure what I wanted, I don't think I wanted anything. Just sleep.
I went and had a quick tramps wash and crawled into my sleeping bag.

There was no euphoria this time, but I am pleased that I found the drive in me to push through even when I felt like utter shit. I wouldn't have got through the last few miles without JZ and Nigel with the dodgy navigation, so massive thanks to them and up until that bad patch we'd been having a great time together - as for the Spine? I don't think so.....

For going back for another Hardmoors 60? Definitely not, thousands of steps left me a broken girl!

The organisation of the event though was excellent and as always with these types of events the marshals are amazing!

For me next - a bit of a rest as I've done a lot of big events this year so a week off, a house move, a holiday in the Caribbean and then start a new training plan when my batteries are recharged :-)

Thursday 5 September 2013

The Ring O' Fire - 135 mile Coastal Ultra Marathon

Another weekend, another adventure in the hills. This time in the form of a multi stage ultra marathon, called "The Ring O' Fire" - the name stands out for itself! It's a single lap of the Island of Anglesey - some 135 miles and 13,000 ft of ascent.

I was lucky enough to get a late entry to this event 3 weeks before the event. Since the UTSW I've been bitterly disappointed with myself but it has also given me a bit of a kick up the arse. So with the event entered I did a bit of training, given I didn't have long before a taper I put in a couple of solid weeks before picking up a very painful groin injury. With a week's rest, some panic physio and a shit-tonne of stretching and strength training in the gym, I was feeling less sore and excited to get to the start.

The schedule of the event was as follows:

Friday: 1pm Start of a 35 mile section with a 3 check points with cut offs final cut off of midnight
Saturday: 6am start for a 65 mile stage and final cut off time of 4am
Sunday: 6am Start for a final 35 mile stage with a final cut of 5:30pm

On first look the cut offs look like you could walk it. But add in to this, coastal paths, big hills, steps, majority off road and sleep deprivation and it's not so generous after all and looking at the results from last year only half the field finished.

My friend Doug was also entered for the event so we arranged to meet up on the Thursday night, get some food and have a pre race catch up. We'd previously teamed up for the OMM and The Spine as well as a couple of Adventure races so had implied that we'd try and stick together. My race plan was to do a goodish time on Day 1, and get through day 2 and 3 without too much injury. After a few beers a pizza and a check of the maps we got our heads down for an early night.

Friday morning came too soon and we were up, repacking kit bags, drop bags, ate some breakfast and headed off to the race registration. Having arrived after dark last night I hadn't got a look at any scenery and straight away I was stunned by the views of the sea. The weather was pleasant and forecast for the weekend was good and I was excited to get started!

Registration was from 11am but it had been revealed a few days earlier that we'd be getting a very special send off - by Prince William no less so we arrived a bit earlier to ensure we got to park. There were several paparazzo knocking around who were obviously there for us!


We had our kit taken up to the registration area by the organisers and we made our way up to sign on and pick up our numbers. I was handed a t-shirt with a cute message on (nice touch) and some complimentary 3Bars and number 014.

Before long we were treated to not only Prince William but also Kate Middleton walking up to meet and greet a select few - she looked amazing - even if she hadn't given birth only weeks ago! I was desperate for a pee but wasn't sure if it was a bit inappropriate to drop my shorts and take a slash in a bush behind the royals! More to the point, I didn't want to get papped with my pants down or snipered! In any case, I only had 5 mins til the off so I ran down a lane and did my business.

Soon we were under starters orders (in the form of Prince William) and the bell was rung, and Jonny Cash played out "it burns burns burns!" and oh it would burn!

To the Race!

Day 1:
As mentioned my plan was to do a reasonable time this day and Doug planned to try to keep up (not that I'm much quicker than him) due to the volume of people trying to get through one kissing gate the start was fairly slow to begin with but once we spread out we set off at a comfortable 10 min/mile pace with amazing views to the left of the sea as we rose up and down the single track trails then looped onto a short section of road, only to be nearly hit by the royals in their Range Rovers! That would have been a good tale to tell!

The route was following coastal walk signs which was largely well sign posted which was odd as along the road section everyone was going straight on but the sign turned right and up over a bridge. I wanted to follow the masses but Doug was adamant that the trail went over the bridge since he'd walked round there yesterday. I went along begrudged still not believing that everyone else would go the wrong way!?

When we popped out of the train station and found ourselves back on the track and ahead of people who were ahead of us, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and put him back in charge of nav!

The first check point was about 10 miles in and we got there in a fairly good time, feel good I made a sprint for the check point. Doug followed suit and we crossed the line together (I think I was a bit ahead!)

The day went by in a blur of gorgeous hidden bays, and stunning views, I couldn't stop grinning,

taking pictures when I saw a nice view and larking about. I was feeling strong and wanted to jog and jog along the lovely single track but there was still a long way to go! My injury felt fine - I'd put a good deal of rock tape on it but it felt fine. I taped up a hot spot on one of my feet from my new trainers (always do an event in a pair of shoes you've never worn!)

My main pain was in my shoulders from running with my pack (again a new piece of kit) the check points came and went - the marshals were the best I've ever met at an event cheering and whooping relentlessly. The supporters of runners were equally supporting to the rest of the field.

We kept making targets of getting to certain points and miles in certain times, each time sprinting into the checkpoint to the amusement of the marshals. achieving the targets made me feel pretty good.

The sun begun to set during the final miles the most gorgeous view across the sea. The final 3rd of the route got a bit hilly and more like the coastal paths I'm familiar with - not quite like the pain of UTSW or the Jurassic Coast but up and down and challenging enough to make the legs burn burn burn!

The last few miles went on and on, I could see the lights in the distance for the village we were heading for, but it never seemed to arrive. We hit tarmac for a while - it must be soon before hitting trails again and decided to walk the last few miles in, flush out the legs a bit and since we couldn't see well and the ground was rooty under foot it was a wise decision and knowing we'd be back in time for a pizza dinner at the local Italian was a welcome feeling! We were overtaken by "the likely lads" (3 guys we'd been yo-yo-ing with all day) probably glad to finally get away from our inane chatter and singing.

We made our way back into the final check point following some signed which had been put out to help us back and save using the map, with a half assed sprint and big smiles to a fab welcome committee of the marshals - how they kept their energy up all day is amazing!

The accommodation for the night was a sport centre, the fast guys had been back hours, had showers, eaten and were already asleep on the floor! We laid out our sleepy bags, had showers (the best shower ever!) and walked the half km to the pizza restaurant, had a cheeky half and a pizza found ourselves falling asleep and made our way back, compression tights on and bed down for the night. It wasn't the best nights sleep but it was the most we'd have for a while!

Day 2:
4:45 came and it was time to get up, normally after a race the normal thing to do is rest, even after a half marathon I don't normally want to do anything, but after 35 miles running round the coast, instead of hobble around in a pair of slippers the best thing to do is go out on little sleep and embark on another 65 mile adventure!

The first stage was just under 12 miles and it was a pretty hilly start. Starting off gently, tentatively testing the legs and surprised at how they felt - OK they were stiff but nothing like I expected - they wanted to run.
The sun was coming up and looking like another nice day, I'd got pretty sun burnt yesterday but still, better than getting hypothermia again! Another welcoming arrival at the check point and we were back on our way, keeping to the normal plan of walking the up hills and trotting the flats and downs.

The views just didn't get boring, the day drew on, and we were still in the race. We were clearly some of the back runners but it didn't matter, what mattered was finishing, others were pulling out at each check point but we were holding strong, slow but strong. There was some really shitty sections of pebble beaches to run across along the course of the weekend which was probably some of the worst parts of the route.  Coming into the the penultimate check point the sun was beginning to go down so we had a little sit down with the lovely marshals who gave us some glow sticks for a night rave and put on an extra layer and headlamps on and checked the maps. We'd sort of decided that we'd walk most of the night section unless it was particularly easy going but we were both getting tired, Dougs' feet weren't in great condition (they'd not healed since Lakeland100 only 4 weeks ago) and the skin was threatening to shed again.

The next section was a long one, the short ones are nice because you can visualise them better but with about 12 miles on this one it was going to be a slog, especially in the dark but the going was fairly flat. we rounded a corner and upon us was a section of river to cross with giant stepping stones about 4ft high! it was fun hopping from one to another in the dark :-)   Wwith a small navigational error ending us in the woods for a while eventually got ourselves to the final check point were Bing the organiser a big group of marshals and a vat of Soup was waiting! It was much needed as the temperature had dropped and we were moving pretty slowly now. 

 A big group of competitors turned up behind us, they'd previously been ahead but had got lost so ended up behind. They flew in and out of the check point whilst we enjoyed the soup and chatter.

After outstaying our welcome we set off on the final 6 miles, soon catching up and overtaking the other group. We took charge of navigation, and found our way back along the route, through  fields and sandy tracks. I was feeling quite spritely again (I had taken a gel shortly before and they turn me into a different person) so this didn't go down well with Doug and the others whilst I was bouncing next to them limping and hopping (there were quite a few injuries in the field)

Two of the group set off in front as we hit the dreaded sand dunes and by this point Doug was in a
real state with his feet. It was terrible to watch him wince and limp on every footfall as the blisters worsened. The next 2 miles across the sand dunes were the darkest time. It was grim. It was way past bed time and nearly 2am, my ankle had got really sore and every time I place my left foot a sharp hot pain shot up my shin and top of foot. I tried to encourage Doug on, it was heartbreaking but the going was so slow and the sand so deep and hard to get across it took forever!

Finally we came to the end, crossed and bridge and went back on ourselves. We couldn't see the guys who were behind us so assumed they'd dropped far back in the slog and gloom. We limped and hobbled the last few hundred meters to the village hall we were to sleep in to the smiley face of a marshal outside and Q giving us a double high five. There were several people still up and eating pasta that had been put on - including the guys who were supposedly behind us on the dunes! I was pretty pissed off the next day to find out they'd skipped them and taken the easy route claiming to have "bailed" but still starting Day 3!? Well, they're only cheating themselves hey ;-)

The shoes came straight off to get some pressure of the feet, Doug was in a bad state and I was worried. I set our stuff out whilst he inspected his damaged feet, we didn't even get out of our kit, it wasn't long before we had to be up again so any sleep is good!

Doug wanted to get up to pop his blisters but I insisted that sleep at this stage was more important. I fell asleep pretty quick but had funny hallucinations of bugs scuttling towards my head and my legs waking me up with spasms.

Almost as soon as I closed my eyes I was awoken by "IT BURNS BURNS BURNS, JUST LIKE A RING OF FIRRREEEE!" played at volume into the room and Q bouncing around like a kid on red bull! There was a small part of me not wanting to carry on, my ankle was agony and first instincts were that Doug wouldn't make it today with his feet in the condition they were in.

We made a plan to ensure that we at least started and would go from there check point to check point. The plan was Doug to pop his blisters, we'd tape his feet, and he'd use my trekking poles, and drugs all round. Lots of drugs!

I went and got changed, came back and found him patching up his feet, I cut strips of tape and helped where I could, passed drugs around, packed sleeping bags away, taped up my ankle and got ourselves motivated for one final push.

I wasn't hungry for breakfast so we just had a few cheddars crackers and gathered outside with the remaining runnners. It was cooler this morning and the fatigue was set in, although I did feel so much better for just an hour or so sleep. We set off for the final stage - somehow the front guys still running fast!

The plan was in action, get to the check points inside the cut offs. I was very surprised at my ankle now I had taped it and compression tights on, Dougs feet seemed less horrendous and although we weren't moving fast we weren't at the back. The first check point was about 7 miles in and we knew breakfast was there waiting - in the form of bacon butties - I'm a vegetarian but I really fancied a bacon butty so when we reached the checkpoint (complete with a half hearted sprint) we boshed the most delicious bacon sarnies!

 With 20 mins banked at this check point we carried on to the next, another 7 mile stage, we weren't in the best shape, Doug's feet and ankle were giving grief, my ankle was intermittently giving me big issues. Yesterday I'd been pissing like a race horse - I'm talking every 20 mins what seemed like a good half a pint, and today was turning into a similar story. I wasn't over drinking so I didn't really get it.

We reached the 2nd check point with 15 mins banked, telling us we'd slowed down further. A few guys we'd been yo-yo'ing with to this point retired here, We took a bit of time to do some foot admin before carrying on.

The next section was another bastard pebble beach. Something I noticed was that there were a lot of people skipping these hard sections in favour of the road, whilst it's clever to use the map to their advantage it's not really in keeping with the spirit of the race to cut corners.

For this section we had to do a prove we'd gone to a Bay slightly off the course rip a page out of a book that was left there and bring it back, (it would be an easy cheat to knock off a few miles) we made our way to the bay and came to a lush opening on to the beach, I felt like a pirate!

After some larking on the beach some more pics and long walk along the seafront we realised that we still had a long way to go before the next check point and time wasn't on our side.

Knowing how bad Doug's feet and shin were (I could tell by the swearing and faces he was pulling) that he wasn't up for running but eventually I said that if we wanted to get to the check point in time and hence continue to the finish then we had to dig deep for the next few miles and really push on. It didn't receive a great response initially but before I knew what was happening he was off!

We ran, proper ran up the hills, down the hills, along on and on and on. I was so impressed with the turn of foot. I knew the pain was bad, my leg gave way a few times but I managed it as best as I could.

We carried on like this for a few miles until a steep incline, I caught up with Doug who was like a man possessed! He said he'd taken 2 packs of bloc shots ! no wonder he was blasting along!

After a brief walk, we were back running again until we met the tarmac. There was no way we were going to run on this, the pain was too much so we marched on, knowing the check point must be soon.

Doug was so amazing that section, I knew that that had got us to the check point when we finally made it there with 20 mins spare.

I insisted we take 10 mins to get our shoes off, get some food in, drug up and prepare for the last 10 miles.

We'd done an epic 125 miles so far and had the last bit in sight. We could do this!

Saying good bye to the lovely marshals and hoping the last time we'd see them would be at the finish line.

We weren't in great shape, I was really worried about Doug as he seemed to be bonking so I slipped him percy pigs for the next couple of miles.

Looking at the map was a bit depressing, it went right round the edge of the coast in a zig zag fashion. We plodded on, taking it in turns in having food swings. Lots of walkers on the trails knew what we were doing and gave words of encouragement and knowing we had less than 10k to go should have been a positive. We wound along the coast round the fields of heather taking in the breath taking views

The map gave hope looking like we'd be at the finish soon. it looked like about 6k, but we had to go "around" the mountain. Climbing up to a little stone hut it looked like we just had to climb up and over, then down and right and we'd be home and dry. We had time to kill and we'd still be back in good time!

We were sadly mistaken. We plodded up over the "top" only to find that we had to go along more trail towards the mountain. Looking at the map we decided that it was just to the lip of the next ridge then right....

It was not.

We reached the top to see the trail go down then up again, then up some more and disappear to the ridge of the actual mountain!

OK, we can do this!

We plodded on. Time was a ticking.... and fast running out!

The trail seemed to be dipping and I was convinced that just round the next corner would be the finish. But the trail took a dip to the left, and went waaaaay out to a point on the far left. I thought I recognised a building below and got excited and shouted to Doug who was limping badly down the big steps only to be told that "um... no, we have to go back up and over"


At this point, we had only 15 minutes to get back in the allotted time not to DNF and we had no idea how many twists and turns and extra climbs would appear! We started to panic a bit so again we had to dig deep, pain schmain, we hadn't come this far to not finish.

Adrenaline kicked in and we ran and ran, up and down, steps and rocks came and went and checking my watch , seeing the minutes pass by. We can do this!!

We rounded another corner and there! we saw it ! the finish shute! it was still about 500meters to go but the end was right there! We had so little time, we ran hard down the final decent, we saw a couple of marshals running up the mountain to meet us - screaming and whopping at us. We sprinted past, we could see the finish post and hear the cheering of the organisers willing us to finish. I looked at my watch - one minute to go. we sprinted head to head towards the finish.

Crossing the line was the most euphoric end to a race I've ever had! It was the most amazing feeling! It was such a dramatic and exciting end to a race and the relief was fantastic knowing how close it had come to not finishing.

We accepted our medals and the marshals and organisers seemed genuinely impressed at our comedy timing.

We don't enter races under "Team Chuckle Bros" for nuthin! ;-)

What an amazing event, I don't think I've grinned so much during a race before and I'd recommend it to anyone!

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This latest blog will be hopefully following my transwales experience. Enjoy with me :-)