The Arc of Attrition- the ultimate winter ultra marathon- Race Journal
By Lee Weston, Mar 6 2020 04:18PM
So if you have read the first part to this blog then you will know the reasons why I decided to sign up to what most people consider stupid, crazy, ludicrous race in the middle of winter. Four years of wondering if it was possible and 2 of those training my ass off, coming down to 28 hours, 18mins and 38 seconds of a truly surreal experience. In this part, which is a very long read (sorry not sorry), I will best try to give you an insight into what I experienced as part of the race and a review of the race itself to help me process the dream like memories I have.
The lead up to the race was a bit different to normal, potentially because it has meant so much to me as a goal in the months/ years leading up to it. I was over analyzing every part of the race, kit, prep, nutrition and also what my body was doing too. With having 2 weeks over Christmas of training through family visits and a weeks skiing some of my maintenance work (strength work and stretching) had been neglected even though I was still putting in 50+ mile weeks. This resulted in very unhappy legs & knees. This interrupted what was suppose to be my peak volume week of training and had to work around this fact. Thankfully I managed to get on top of it but only for other niggles with the calves/ feet and back to start to play on my mind. Was it a case of over thinking I’m not sure but after a few sessions with Alex Prince, an osteopath, the back was better than it has ever been and the rest I could put out of my mind. I ended up reducing my mileage hugely in the taper due to not needing the mileage, making no difference to my fitness if I done a 2 hour run or not 1 week before the race. So I sat back and got onto a spin bike and completed the maintenance work in the gym reassuring myself I was best prepared and not to think the worst. A few reassuring words from Michelle, my run coach/mentor, and Matt, a soft tissue therapist and colleague who was keeping me moving, was much needed to reassure me slightly nervous brain.
I had the foresight to cut all my 6.30 am clients in the week leading up to the race and all clients from 6pm onwards too so I could focus on getting to bed early and “banking” my sleep. This was all good in theory however it was hard to get to sleep with the what ifs circling in my head.
The days leading up I managed to shop for the race to ensure I had all the nutrition and water I needed with the support crew (brother and wife) and then packing what felt like all my run kit. All possibilities were covered. After reading blogs and watching you tube videos of previous runners the main key things to keep in mind were the following:
• If you can, take everything you think you may need for any eventuality. This lead to separately bagged kit and spare head touches, packs, all types and sorts of nutrition if my stomach went inside out, spare poles if I broke mine, literally everything!
• Stay positive & enjoy (as much as one can). This was a great bit of advice which I tried to embrace but failed towards the end.
• Take a hand torch. Something I had read a few times but didn’t really understand why but if its cold the water vapor from your breath condensing will obscure your vision as you breath out and in the night that’s not so good. Also to help sight in the dark without having to turn your head.
• Don’t stop too much with crew. This I felt was a good bit of advice and easy to lose lots of time if you stick around chatting.
• Keep moving, keep eating, keep drinking regardless. This is and was essential and in essence this got me to the end when I was pretty much broken.
These top tips couldn’t have served me better and I felt like I had everything planned and a clear game plan in my head of how I would like the race to go and how I would deal with the race if/when the shit hit the fan. This led to a really good night’s sleep for the two nights sleep before the race.
Arriving down to Porthtowan on Thursday and walking out the car journey checking out the last mile of the course to the end was a good mental prep. Registration was simple and painless with MudCrew , as always, super organised with kit check and registration very simple and straight forward, in and out in 5-10mins. Race number picked up and kit check passed.
This left me the evening to pack my race vest, sort my kit to run in and prep food to go in the support car. This took a lot longer than I expected so was a bit frustrated not to have as much time as I wanted to switch off and relax before my crew arrived late evening before getting the head down. It was all a bit surreal that It was the day prior the race.
Waking the morning of the race I felt good and got ready to head up to get my GPS tracker fitted and attend the race brief. The finish of the race was also the HQ getting coaches down to the start after the race brief, which was a classic MudCrew race brief. Light hearted yet covering all the key essentials with a dash of humor and realisation that the average DNF rate for the race is 54%. Just what you want to be mulling over for the hour bus journey to the start. The atmosphere was good and a real sense of community & solidarity between the runners and spectators alike. The feeling that this race is “proper hard” yet not commercialised or taken over with elite entries with small numbers (223 starters) and over 300+ local volunteers to make it happen makes it feel special for everyone involved.
Whist on the bus down the rain came in and with 40 mins stood at the start in Coverack waiting for 12noon I wasn’t nervous strangely. Chatting to family and my crew who had come to support was a nice distraction. With the MudCrew introducing the 12 seeded runners prior to the start there was an air of anticipation, buzz and the flairs went off and away we went…. 101.9 miles to go.
The start was a bit surreal with the first hour or so just thinking I have finally made it and am actually in this race, however not really feeling any different to being out for a training run. There was no weight of expectation or dread of the huge distance ahead. I guess that was due to having broken it down in my head at Porthleven by night fall, Lands End by midnight, St Ives by morning and finish before dark. I kept it all segmented, not allowing myself to think about the total miles left, just miles until I saw my crew next, or my next incentive (normally food based like the Double Decker to be given to me at Zennor) or sunrise.
The first 5 miles was a bit of a bun fight, single file backed up, stop start as people jostled for position. With greasy mud underfoot a lot of people were slipping all over the place heading to Kennack sands. Funnily enough I was wondering why people were running on the slippery mud and not on the rough grass to the side of the path. So I managed to get a good position taking the better ground underfoot. I bumped into a chap I ran with for a bit in a 100km race last August also organised by MudCrew. Its funny how you meet the same people, only recognising him by the sound of his voice from chatting.
Coming into Kennack sands it was great to see even more support of friends Mike and Rosie who had, for some reason, wanted to come and support me for the entirety of the race, even through the long dark night. It was really good to see them and they proved to be life savers for me and my crew later on.
The weather was warm but wet so ended up running with no jacket and just getting wet and thankfully putting the gremlins of my calf and foot niggles to bed by the first 10 miles and soon that anxiety of injury fading. I found myself flying into the Lizard Point at 11am fairly fast and looking out for my support but it was pretty busy so carried on. I knew I was going a bit too fast as I was up with the female winner from the year before but felt ok so pressed on.
Having eaten so early in the morning and being 2-3 hours until we stared the race I was eating and drinking well, every 15min taking on either carb electrolyte drink or solid food in alternating fashion. So coming into Kynance Cove I needed to restock with food/water from my crew who weren’t expecting that, neither was I expecting my support growing with my in laws. A little grumpy that I was being held up I wasn’t the most pleasant with the speed of refuel and run off already kicking myself I was being an ass to my crew already. So next time I saw them I apologised and was far more positive. I did joke thinking there was going to be a lot of strops and apologies and I wasn’t wrong.
So Mullion came and went, feeling good and on time/ pace for 27/28h finish. I was very thankful of doing 2 main reccys of the route between the Lizard and the Minack theatre as regardless of it being dark if you recognise bits of the trail It massively helps with the navigation.
Heading over Looe bar it was misty and knew I would be coming into the first check point before dark and in a good time at 4.46pm 25 miles down, a very respectable start, possibly too fast but I knew I would slow down. I needed a good start to psychologically get me in a positive head space. This particular race that MudCrew puts on is like no other I have raced or heard of. You have an individual valet that runs/walks you in to the check point from the coast path and then hands you over to an “Arc angel” who basically waits on you hand and foot getting you food, water, refills, bags of food to take with you and all the positivity/ support you need. It is amazing to chat and talk to someone, a key to keeping sane as after hours without contact or only passing conversation with other runners. The lack of company is on major disadvantage of running your own race and not buddying up. So I flew in and out of the checkpoint just having a veg soup and half a roll to keep little and often going in. I then came out of the check point and pit stopped with my crew to refill and get the head torch on ready for the darkness.
So leaving the Porthleven it was more greasy mud that made it very difficult to get any purchase and made a relatively runnable section harder than it needed to be. Switching on the head torch at 5.30pm was the start of 14hours of darkness, not switching it off until 7.30am the next day. There were a few deviations along route but minor and being with a few others helped not get lost at this point. We came into Rinsey head at around 6pm passing an old tin mine and was all rather atmospheric. Seeing my crew again and saying good night to my parents was I think more worrying for them than me. It seems like I was very much in the head space of the current and not thinking too much about the long hours ahead. Keeping an eye on the times and splits I should be running in different sections to ensure I was on form my 27-30 hour finish was keeping my mind from wondering too much. A key was thinking about the positives and listing the 3 positives at that time. For example, at that point it would have been thinking: back and calf no issues, on schedule and well hydrated. I repeated this constantly throughout the race to keep me in a positive head space, which worked for the most part until the final 25 miles.
So coming in to Marazion and along the flat tarmac path into Penzance enabled me to keep a good 9-10 min/mile pace and make up some time. I managed to slip and fall for the first time navigating the huge boulder beach somewhere before this point and it wasn’t to be the last.
Heading into the Penzance checkpoint 40 miles down an 8.14pm I was very positive and feeling good. A slight niggle was coming into the left knee from tightness in the left quad, classic ITB runners knee. Having a quick stop at Penzance, again escorted off the road into the rugby club by my valet, I was handed over and met with meat balls and boiled potatoes, a winning combo. There was Steve from Film My Run you tube channel filming the live coverage for the Arc and he soon started chatting to me seeming as there was only one other runner at that time in the check point. I didn’t realise that my wife and other supporters were watching this at home. It was quite funny as I was just having a little chat. Again in good spirits as I left I knew I wanted to get to Lands End by midnight ish and if I could still be in the game at that point, as in, not injured, not knackered and keeping hydrated I knew it would be a good stepping stone to get to St Ives by morning.
People who run/ talk about this race all mention the dreaded Pendeen to St Ives section, and rightly so, but they say that if you can get to St Ives before the cut off (2pm) and without to many issues (there is always an issue) you will finish bar any disasters. This was always in my mind too as a clear target for the night section.
I left Newlyn after persuading my crew to bog off and get food before I met them at Lamorna, 5 miles away (about 60min run at best at night over that terrain). This was my favourite part of the race that sticks out in my mind. In the thick of it, the best terrain for running the undulating trail with coarse big granite boulders everywhere to scramble over, looking down to the left to see in your head torch beam the cliff dropping away and the sea below. Great fun and knowing there was some risk too made you more focused. The feeling of running this section will stick with me forever.
At Lamorna cove, one of my favourite spots in Cornwall, I decided to foam roll my leg as at this point my leg was getting annoying and wasn’t sure if it was muscular or worse. It really helped as I pushed on to the Minack theatre, half way, taking a huge positive that it was only muscular. Getting to the Minack I was happy I was halfway and still on track time wise and felt positive having run the last 50 miles of this race the year before in the Arc 50 however not in the dark. I felt good. I was met with a surprise that my friend, James, had driven 2hours to meet me and my crew at the Minack. A great surprise and boost to the moral. He holds the world record for cycling solo across Europe, Russia to Portugal in 28 days nonstop over 2500miles. He said I was stupid running 100miles so from him that was funny and ironic but great to have his support. He stuck around until Sennen at 1.30 am before he drove 2 hours home. Massive respect for his support and effort to come and see me. Again, rolling at the Minack helped ease the leg for a couple of miles before it came back.
Heading to Lands End was arduous, it never seemed to get any closer. A disadvantage of not being able to see what is in the distance. So this is where my memory gets a bit vague, the last 50 miles, especially the dark miles in the early hours of the morning started to get tedious and had to switch off totally. Whether that’s normal for fatigue and tiredness or whether it was a coping mechanism I used to allow the time to pass on by I am not sure.
Either way I came into Lands End very relieved to finally get there and a bit slower than expected at around 1am, however still making good time. Here again lead in and cared for by the Arc angels but also made use of the medics at this point. I managed to get one to release my TFL and glut so it was easier to run for about 2-3 miles before it came back. It was fascinating how the body would hurt, give it an hour to two and it would pass and something else would complain instead. From Lands End I saw my crew at Sennen Cove where I refueled and I think it was at this point where I started to get sick of what I was eating. My mashed slightly salted avocado ½ white bread sandwiches were brown and getting mushed whilst in my pack and I was going to the toilet far too much so decided to dial down on the electrolytes and salt intake and keep up with the water.
After getting some help from the last years female winner coming out of Sennen not get lost I was on to Cape Cornwall. Very little was said and we both continued on. Struggling a little at this point it was great to see my crew on an unplanned point prior to this- Porth Nanven. I was starting to become a bit negative at 3am, as you would. At cape Cornwall I managed to roll and rethink my food options coming in. Switching to eating a bit more and natural (ish) things, pineapple, mango. Soreen cake worked well and getting the chocolate bars into me. At 200-250kcal I knew as long as I kept one chocky bar going in an hour I would be ok.
I was very fortunate with the weather on this race. It didn’t rain at all night and it was relatively mild. I was planning on changing my shoes to more aggressive Mafates shoes but didn’t feel that it would stop me from slipping or falling any less. Also didn’t want to tempt fate in getting blisters by changing shoes. However I did have to reapply sports glide to stop unwanted chafe which hadn’t set in yet surprisingly. I kept with the Speedgoats and slowly walked out of Cape Cornwall eating and trying to list the positives, which there were still a few, but harder to keep in present thought.
Around Cape Cornwall there are lots of path variations to get lost on, I felt I took the long way into Cape Cornwall but nailed it getting out. Following the signs and my nav route on my Fenix 3 Garmin was a life saver. Heading to Pendeen was tough knowing it was going to be the hardest section expecting to average nothing under a 20 min/mile pace. Heading towards the light house at Pendeen there was the eeriest of howling winds. Only emphasised the atmosphere of running through and past all the old tin mine workings/ruins. I think It was around 4 am at Pendeen and Mike and Rosie had rejoined the crew giving my wife and brother a top up of moral and hot drinks. By this point I wanted coffee and positivity and the four kept that coming in spades. I was worried about my crew at this point too as I was well aware about what I was putting them through for my own gain. Hoping they would be able to sleep before I arrived at Zennor 7 miles away that would take me about 3-3.5 hours to cover. At this point I was aware I needed change my head torch battery too, easier to do with other people holding light than in the pitch black once it run out.
I sloped off and straight away hit a navigational issue walking and pointing in different directions searching for the path that was so vague. I knew this was going to be the next 13 miles and didn’t help my mind set. Followed by knee deep bog, jumping along granite stepping stones and 20+ min/miles popping up on my watch it was tough to stay positive. By this point I hadn’t seen another runner since Cape Cornwall and didn’t see one again until Zennor- about 4-5 hours of solitude in the darkness, keeping my thoughts within my beam of my head torch. This 3 hours went in a blur and apart from seeing Rosie and mike pop up in the middle of nowhere about an hour after Pendeen, which was hilarious and surreal, I can’t really remember much. Following seeing Mike and Rosie, literally after grabbing a banana and plodding along in pain now, I slip and fell over just out of sight and they just heard me curse and see my head torch beam going around in circles. They shouted over and asked if I was ok. I had fell over again and with falling catapulted my walking pole over the edge of the cliff. Better the pole than me I guess. My first thought was am I ok, which I was, second was that’s an expensive pole and using one without the other was pretty pointless. So I went about retrieving it a couple meters down the cliff from a bush. Probably not the best idea in hindsight but I wasn’t thinking and needed those poles if I were to finish as my legs were getting a beating of their lifetime.
Plodding along it was getting towards 7am and I was getting closer to Zennor, a remote point that your crew could meet you at but only accessible via foot. I however realised as I left Pendeen they had the wrong timings from what I was working on and I would be arriving 30 mins before they would be there. So getting to a meet point I thought was correct, I was 45mins early. With no signal I had to decide to carry on with not enough water or head inland to the road to find them. If I carried on it could be bad running out of fluid but more so they won’t know I had gone past them. I deiced to head inland, getting to the road cursing that I hadn’t corrected their time sheet. Getting to the road I wasn’t in Zennor and it took a bit of time to click, once I rechecked my phone map, I was in the wrong place and had wasted 30 minutes and covered an extra 1.5 ish miles whilst loosing places to people behind me. I was furious with myself and double timed back to the coast path and picked up where I left off after going around in circles trying to find the onward path. I was in a an utter tizz and beating myself up, pushing far too hard thinking I needed to make up time. Repassing people I had passed before whilst calling myself a dickhead repeatedly. I had a few conversations with myself out loud along the 100miles, some more statements than conversations.
Seeing the correct meeting point across the valley at Zennor as the sun came up was a great relief but not seeing my crew there was even more stressful. The sun was coming up and it was 7.30am which was a great positive but I was still reeling my own mistake. As I walked up the hill towards other people’s crew I saw my crew walking/running down the path to meet me. I was on go fast, non-conversational, pissed off Lee mode. I tried to explain what had happened but I don’t think they understood my negative rambling. I topped up with water, got my motivational nutritional nugget, a Double Decker, and run off like an Lonny. Seeing my crew looking a bit worse for wear I didn’t even stop to ask or consider if they had managed to get some sleep and after speaking at the end of the race my wife was too worried about me, not being able to track me or missing me, she got maybe 30 mins.
I felt I had slipped into a dark bubble however no longer in the darkness. I was running too fast and beating myself up about going wrong and then being stressed in front of my crew. It took me some time to calm down, I started to sort my shit out. I had to slow up as I knew I couldn’t make up 30 mins by running faster, it wasn’t possible, it would just end me. I had to change my layers as I was getting too hot and had to carry on eating. I had to calm myself down and as I ate my rock hard Double Decker I laughed as this was my reward, my carrot dangling on the proverbial stick to get me through the last 20ish miles, however I was just rewarded with a work out for my jaw! Bad choice.
So I started to actually look around and appreciate the surrounding and the bleak bueaty of this section of the coast line heading into st ives. Passing a few runners, who were having difficulties themselves, someithng I learnt is very few people finished this race (49%) let along without issues or lots of pain, was encouraging. I was annouyed as now my R hip was starting to play up and also by this point the left knee had settled in for good with the left ankle anterior tendons starting to feel the strain of not picking my leg up as much due to the knee.
Again Mike and Rosie popped up out of nowhere which was again a needed nugget of positively from them, however negative I was they were always so encouraging and couldn’t tell them to F off or shut up and as a result it brushed off on me.
Coming over a brow of a hill to see St Ives in the distance as the sun broke over the horizon was a sunrise I won’t forget yet I had zero intension of fucking around to get my phone out to take pictures. As I made my way towards St Ives I fell in the exact same place as on the 50miler last year, I got up, within a meter I fell again! F**k OFF. All sense of humor had been beaten out of me. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt unlike last year but pissed off. It was great to have support from strangers as I came into St Ives but didn’t really know what to say apart from thank you, thinning in the back of my mind I still had 22 ish miles to go. Having already added on 4ish extra miles somehow. Making it 83 miles instead of the 79 miles MudCrew stated. This also was killing me mentally knowing I had done more than I needed.
I stopped with crew and rolled feeling suitable broken at this point, their infectious positively helped and that positivity carried on in the final check point. Being picked up by my valet and cheered on my traveling fan club (parent & in-laws) was great though slightly behind on my planned fastest pace but still within a sub 30 time I was relieved to get to the checkpoint, only after the valet took me up the wrong street (&hill) to get to it. I had no energy to tell him my thoughts of his detour, probably a good thing.
My mood turned around as the Angels looked after me with coffee, rice pudding whilst I got my foot looked at by the medical team, just a blister taped and then off to the therapists to get my glut and TFL released. The longest stop of 25 mins and the most pain I’ve felt on a treatment table for a long time but worth it. I came out in the sunshine to walk and give my crew a call to update them. The next bit was 7 miles of tarmac through to Hayle, the legs feeling relativity better leaving the check point but it didn’t last long as the pounding took its toll. I hobbled into Hayle to my crew, thankful that was the last bit of flat tarmac done. I was getting concerned about my ability to keep running at this point and having thought it was the “easy bit left of 22 miles” it dawned on me I still had to actually run, walk, crawl those last 22 miles and there isn’t such a thing of easy miles after you’ve already been running 23 hours and 80+ miles. At this point I had to take off my heart rate monitor chest strap as it had chaffed and broken the skin on my chest so there was no way of gauging how hard I was working or if I was dehydrated via an elevated heart rate. I spoke to Michelle, my coach, telling me to ditch planned paces and run/move on perceived exertion, knowing that the next 16 miles over the dunes and cliffs to Porthtowan had very runnable/ploddable sections. I however was struggling with pushing off my right leg through my hip and my left leg just hating having to bend and lift. All I was concerned at this point was figuring out whether I would still make the 30 hour cut off I was aiming for. I knew I would finish even if I walked the whole way but I didn’t put in the hard training to just complete it without putting in the best effort/representation of myself. I set out to finish this thing under 30 hours and wasn’t going to let the wheels fall off now.
Leaving Hayle into the Dunes of Doom, aptly named for the issues for navigation (especially when dark), I was still able to keep plodding on the flat and downhill bits and made good progress. It was such a gorgeous day with the sun out yet windy but definitely was not cold. I made it into Godrevy in good time with 11-12 miles to go. I was pretty broken at this point and my intentions of running had evaporated with pain on each step forward. After a quick roll and restock I set off feeling pretty dejected at how much of a cripple I was and not wanting to be finishing this race broken. I had felt so good and literally overnight resulted in being broken and negative. I felt like all the training I had done hadn’t worked or been enough to finish the way I had imagined. Yes, I would finish but I didn’t expect it to physically hurt this much and for my body to fall apart in the process, especially in ways I’ve never had issues with before. As I plodded out of Godrevy over the cliffs it was 1pm and people were looking down onto the sandy beaches below at seals, I was not in the mood to be adoring mother nature. I tried to keep the legs moving but only met with no real different in my min/mile pace and just more discomfort and pain. My poles were my friends and felt I was slightly getting emotional at this point, tired and again not having had a normal conversation (not about running!) with anyone for hours/a day. With only race related chat with other runners and my crew or support I was going slightly bananas. I was feeling really crap at this point and got my wife to walk with me for a mile or so just to chat and feel a bit better. All that was going on in my head was the math in how long it would take to walk the last 8-9 miles. 3 hours at best. That was a killer when I was ready to stop. Being far too stubborn to stop I had to keep going.
It was hard to accept the positive encouragement from people as I got towards the end as the pain/ discomfort got worse and couldn’t break my negative undertone in my thinking. I decided to distract myself from the pain with music and plugged myself in which I very rarely do and didn’t want to have to but it was the only way. Coming into Portreath with 4 miles to got I was more positive and felt ready for the final push. Slightly underestimating 4 miles seeing the coast in the distance I had forgot the about the last 4 big dipper/stepped hills before the finish line. It went on and on and on. Four people passed me and there was nothing I could do and I didn’t even want to chase them, I couldn’t, literally couldn’t run at this point or it was pointless as it was no faster than my hobbling walk. As they disappeared into the distance I realised it was further than I thought. As I saw them go past the next cove and step cliff and then the next my heart sank. I knew the finish wasn’t quite in my sight. All I could do was to keep my head down and have faith that the miles would pass. This is where I was only being able to go down or up steps leading with my left leg with a heavy assist from my poles, to stabilise me down and heave my ass up. My nan could have climbed stairs quicker.
Those last 4 miles were agony. Finally getting to the last mile or so I ran out of water. I was putting off changing my top as the sun was getting lower the wind had picking up and it was getting cooler. I didn’t want to stop and waste more time changing and faffing, a big mistake. I wanted to get off the cliffs first which took longer than expected. By this point I was bitterly cold and out of water. With no crew in Porthtowan, which I hadn’t asked them to be I had to rely on some marshals for half a liter of squash, a life saver, I then put on all the warm clothes I had and shuffled up the valley. I knew I had left it too late to change and was slightly hypothermic and dehydrated, neither good but I managed to hit a new PB for the worst min/mile pace…. 33 min/min for my last ½ mile to the finish. It was an subdued crawl up the last hill, a sting in the tail as MudCrew described it. I had to stop twice on the way up to ensure I didn’t faint/fall over as knew my exertion was way higher than it should have been for walking a hill. I was met at the top by Steve filming the live coverage for MudCrew which was a surreal experience chatting to me as I made my way to the finish line.
I mustered a hobble for the last 50 meters to cross the line at 28h18m38s at 4.18pm to be met by Jane the race director and my gold bucket for finishing in sub 30hours. I stopped and was just awash with emotion as Serena came to hug me and I broken down in tears, so happy to have finished a long term goal I had been driving towards for years, for ending 28hours of a bizarre and surreal experience and for the pain to be finally over. I couldn’t help it. All on a live feed, great, everyone could see me. I sat down and took it in. It was great to have my friends and family around me but was so cold and tired I had to head into the indoor area and put on another layer whilst sitting next to a radiator. My support weren’t allowed into the area so it gave me some time to just sit and relax. I warmed up a bit after 20 mins. I had a massage but took me a good 5 mins to try to get off my shoes, socks and tights which were disgusting! I fell asleep on the couch as they flushed my legs through and although they felt a bit better for it as stood up tentatively I lost my hearing and made my way over to my family just to sit down on the floor next to a wall feeling very light headed. Another 10/15 mins passed as I felt bad that I couldn’t have a conversation with my support and thank them and engage with them. They had been trailing around after me for 28 hours and then I was just a flop at the end. However, I was in slightly better shape than a runner being helped in by two people! As I drunk a lot of water and another half hour passed my extended support left and was with Mike, Rosie, Serena and Paul. We stayed there until I was able to drink ½ a beer, have a chat and support those that were still coming in. I was starting to come around. It just all felt like a dream and all I had to show for it was that I couldn’t walk without immense effort, a big gold buckle and a million phone notifications.
After a good 2 hours I was ready to leave and it was dark, heading down to our accommodation to have a shower and get out for some food. I was surprised I still didn’t feel tired and after a shower I felt pretty good. The pub was only 30m away from our accommodation but took me a good 5mins to “walk” there. I was still bitterly cold sat in the pub for at least half an hour with my thermal jacket on sat at the table. It was funny you could see others hobbling around who had run, either distances. I managed a pint of Guinness and a burger, taking it slow to make sure I didn’t see it again. I was slapped in the face by tiredness halfway through the meal and it was like someone had switched the lights off.
I managed to make it home and with people still coming in form the race in the driving rain at 10pm my heart went out to them but was so grateful I had managed to avoid a second night.
Up early the next day and taking a good couple of hours going through messages of support I was overwhelmed. We went up to the awards ceremony and I was blown away hearing how fast the winners of the 100m and 50m were. Two of the 3 males on the 100m podium were 100mile first timers! Incredible. The camaraderie on this run is like no other race or event I have ever been too, for this reason I would love to come back and run the 50 mile race again or just be in Cornwall to support and watch people running past in the future. It’s a very special race and you really notice this through talking to and watching people in and around the race. It is something I will never do again, the 100miles hurt so much and was a one off bucket list goal for me that took over my life for 6 months in the lead up that it just doesn’t work in my current lifestyle without great financial/social cost. My wife has that on camera and something I stick by even 3 weeks post-race as I write this. Still having not been for a run since, it has taken longer than expected to recover physically from the ankle and hip issues I had. It was taken this long to digest it all too, hence why I am writing this was a way of processing the whole event.
Having completed this truly unnecessarily feat of physical endurance, mentally pushing to find those boundaries of what is humanely possible, I have experienced what most don’t ever get chance to pursue or explore. The take home message for me is the body is far stronger and way more resilient than you realise. The mind however can be fickle yet can be trained to override the physical limits/discomfort and therefore makes anything possible. Belief in achieving it is key, if you lose that believe you become mentally fragile and likely not to succeed. Train the body but don’t forget to train the mind.
106.5 miles ran. 28h18m38s. 22nd of 111 finishers. 20th male. 51% DNF rate. Never again.
P.s. a massive thank you to all the support and well wishes from my friends, family, clients, colleagues and randoms that kept me going slightly more positive than if I was left to my dark thoughts.