I thought I could write a blog about how mardy I was, how much my feet hurt and how I hated every single step of the thing. But I thought, that doesn't help anyone, least of all me. There has to be SOME good bits, right?
It was still dark with a frost on the car when Brett picked me up at stupid o'clock. We collected Gavin and drove over to the Dales, a huge golden moon hung in the dawn sky.
We didn't have long between parking up at the finish and getting bus to the start! No time for a much needed poo!
We all passed kit check (phew) although the man gave me a lecture on 'emergency rations' and blood sugar. I thought, mate, I could write the book on bonking and crashing blood sugars but thought it was perhaps not a good idea to argue with the marshalls at this stage in the game...
Two cups of tea, a second banana and lots of Jamaican Ginger Cake later, it was time to go. (Already doing better then last year where I was ill and hardly managed any breakfast.)
I had seen several friends before the start, including Flanker and KinkyS. We had gathered a chap called Tim from Esk Valley who decided he'd run with us.
When the RD said go, it was hilarious as everyone barrelled off in different directions! I lost all three boys immediately although managed to catch Gavin and Tim just up the street. Brett had disappeared into the distance. We figured we see him at the first check point drinking tea.
It's a long slog up Ingleborough, we did it in one hour one minute (I know this from my watch data, no idea at the time!) The descent is worse though, steep slippy rock steps and I minced my way down carefully.
The run in to the next check point is quite pleasant and I caught up with Gavin and Tim once more, but no sign of Brett*. Grabbed a chocolate digestive and ran on.
Pretty much straight into the next climb. I regaled Tim with the story of my projectile vomiting episode on the 3-Peaks run a couple of years ago. As we started the climb, this is where the mardiness set in. No idea why particularly, other than I don't understand how after all this training it is still so fucking hard.
Anyway, it took a while to get to the summit, this is a little out and back, no sign of Brett. As we came back down, we crossed my friends Em, Jo and Louise and the chaps they were running with, David and Mark.
I don't remember much about the run from here, apart from a very wobbly metal ladder over a wall!
Down down down into Kingdale. I needed a wee. No bushes anywhere and the porta-loo thingy was a bit close to where everyone was sitting with cups of tea for my liking. Never got my pre-run poo earlier either. Anyway, the boys fuelled up with big slabs of flapjack, I nibbled a corner, and we set of up ridiculous climb number 3, Gragareth.
This is the near vertical, calf killer of a climb. I puffed and heaved my way up.
I had some sweets as I ran the short out n back to the summit. My number was 369 and the summit marshals burst into song! 369, the goose drank wine... etc which has been stuck in my head ever since. That was probably the highlight of my race to be honest.
The boys had waited for me at this point, although I had said I'm ok for them to run on. Gavin had originally spoke of completing in 18.5 hours and I knew I wasn't up for that!
The route follows the wall from Gragareth to Great Coumb at the far end of the ridge. It is sort of flat so was very boggy indeed. I went in up to my knees at one point! Yuk, trainers full of slime.
Somewhere along the way, I don't know where it started really, but my feet were really hurting. I started with plantar fasciitis after the Hardmoors 55 in March and had been managing it by the usual methods. Up until now, it hadn't really hurt whilst running, just afterwards.
The boys eventually pulled away into the distance and I grumbled along on my own. People chatted as they passed, but I didn't run with anyone for long. Louise passed me too, she was flying along, I knew she would!
I missed the stile at Great Coumb, only went about 50 yards out of my way, but took several people with me! No songs at this checkpoint and we turned downhill. I followed a much better line this time and avoided the awkward rocks on the descent.
Maybe it was because we were going downhill, maybe it's because we were approaching a cup-of-tea stop, but my mood improved greatly as we continued down. Though wet reedy ground, through the Scout check point at Flinter Gill and onto the walled lane zig-zagging its way into Dent. I reached the check point in good spirits, but my feet were very sore and once I had tea and food in hand, I sat down for about 15 mins to re-fuel. I felt refreshed and ready to do a bit more.
I left Dent, should have got my map out 'cos I couldn't remember which turning we wanted. Some lads overtook me while I was faffing around. I ended up walking with an older chap for several miles. To start with I didn't want any company but in the end we had a good natter about this and that. He'd done the race a few times and knew the way, we were on a good obvious track at this point, but still.
The next bit crosses a short section of open, marshy ground. Several more dunkings, but none of them quite so deep. My feet really sore now, every step pulled the tight tendons in a new direction. As we crossed several false summits, I lost the plot and had a little cry. Sheer frustration as I knew that I wasn't going to finish, again. I had to save my feet ahead of the HM110 in a months time, no good trashing them now and not being able to complete that either.
So, I checked in to the summit checkpoint at Blea Moor, then took a different line to last year across the top to join the forestry below. The forestry is now gone!
I could remember the path down being fun and I quite enjoyed it again this time, although my friends over took me and I went into deep mud half way up my shin.
Once off the steep path and onto smooth grass, my feet didn't feel quite so bad. But when i reached tarmac it was clear they were not going to get any better. I hobbled the mile or so down the road, pausing to wash my disgusting trainers in the river, before checking in at Stonehouses.
I had some pasta, and seconds, before wandering over to the marshals tent and announcing my intention to retire. I cried again as they cut my tally off my bag.
That was it, race over. I now lounged in the sun while the body bus collected enough people to fill it. Flanker, KinkyS and friends came through, taking their pasta with them to avoid grouping a little longer. Then it took a long time to get back to race HQ at Threshfield. An even longer wait was ahead of me as I had no way of getting home til the boys finished! I got my stuff, put dry socks and shoes on (bliss) then had jacket potato and chilli for tea. Nice hot shower (and a poo!) and sorted out my stuff for sleeping. Then I went back and got pudding and a bowl of pasta! I hung around til 11-ish then went for a surprisingly good sleep on the sports hall floor.
The boys made it back around 6am. Tim and Gavin had stuck together and they collected up Brett from where he'd set off too fast then blown up just off Great Knoutberry and picked up Louise along the way too. Gavin had a comfortable run, Brett not so much and I didn't see Louise or Tim, but the boys looked like zombies.
I managed to negotiate some breakfast despite already using my meal token the night before. My friends, Em, Jo and Co. came in at around 24hours. The speed I was going at, had I carried on, I would have been a lot longer...
So, all home safe and sound, I have been checking out the opening times at the local pool as it looks like I'll be doing some aqua-jogging to rest my feet!
The event itself, although brutal is excellent value for money (£50 including coach transfer) and you get feed, all the sweep support, indoor sleeping and a nice commemorative Buff. It is a massive operation and very well organised. The kitchen crew in particular do a fantastic job, working through the night to make sure 300-400 hungry runners are catered for and nothing is too much trouble. And of course the summit marshals, and the checkpoint crews, and the bus drivers... you get the idea!
*The best bit about this is that Brett spent the first 10 miles or so running like the clappers as he was convinced that Gavin was ahead of him...