Monday, 29 July 2013

Coincidence, camaraderie and conflicting emotions....

This weekend has been a learning curve in more ways than one. I rather think that I suffered my first DNF, I've had a few DNS's in my running life, where I've decided for various reasons not to start but I feel that this is my first DNF and it hurts like hell, more of that later and I promise there isn't a whine or moan in sight. (On re-reading there might be one or two).

The Lakeland 50 has been part of my life now for 3 years and before this year's event I said this would be the last, now I'm not so sure LOL. Actual running training hasn't been going so well but walking and hill training has been as per schedule so I wasn't worried on that part. So off we went, very organised this year, lovely B & B for Billy to have comfort. Bag packed to perfection with all the mandatory requirements, didn't manage due to work commitments to get down in time to see the 100's off but did see the kids start their mile, wow so many kids with big big smiles. Got registered, meet the girls and guys I've become friendly with over the three years. Coincidence number 1, the guy who kit checked me was Andrew whom I'd sat next to on the bus to the start last year. Then coincidence number two came when walking to the B & B Billy says to me, that woman there passing us couldn't keep her eyes off you. Well I am used to this at these events as I'm not built like a person who does this sort of thing LOL. Anyway saw her later through a cafe' window and thought mmmm she's familiar. Next morning we are sat in the breakfast room reminiscing about the Nav event last year, yes we had been in the same B & B then and had walked to the Nav event together - small world. (She went on to do very well this year at Lakeland btw).

Start of event to start of trudge round to Mardale Head.
After a hearty breakfast of porridge and toast it was down for the briefing and onto to the coach for the journey to Dalemain. Spent the next half hour in the toilet queue, yattering to various people. In no time we were in the start pen, initial dib done and away. The race as always starts with a trawl round Dalemain for 4 miles, mostly done through the fields. I hate this bit but it does give you a chance to get the limbs and lungs moving. Ran down through the fields towards Pooley Bridge but got caught in a single file of walkers. I had initially had an idea I could run the downs and walk the ups (so much for plans in the end). Was caught by the event photographer, I might buy it, it's actually a good photo and I look happy and relaxed in it - which reflects how I felt at the start of the event. Caught up with internet friend Kim on the downhill into Howtown, we stayed together after that. She picked me up when I fell whilst simultaneously trying to take a drink from my bottle and read a sign at the side of the track. Lovely bruise on elbow for my trouble. It was extremely hot and I was drinking because I felt thirsty but feeling too bagged up with fluid not a nice feeling. Pulled into the checkpoint in Howtown and perhaps not such a co-incidence my other internet friend Jessica was there squealing my name.... she's been off the radar lately so we had a bit of a catch up. It was here we met Peter who was gutted to be pulling out as he had a chest infection thing going on and had found Fusedale was killing him. Kim thought she might just sack it here but I bullied her into getting up (not really but you know what I mean) we needed each other to get up, excuse my french "the Bastard" yes Fusedale, we both hate it with a passion. So she left first but somehow ended up behind me until the climb. It look us quite a while, we huffed and puffed and swore all the way to about three quarters of the way up. It was here that we met Angela who was on her way back down, we persuaded her to go on and quit at Mardale Head rather than Howtown. We thought she would perhaps get to the end once the worst bit was out of the way - little did we know what was to come.

To Mardale Head.
We were all feeling brilliant at the bottom of the hill and were just through the deer fence gate when the sky almost instantly went dark and the heavens opened, we thought the first downpour was hail, later we learned it was! So on went the waterproofs top and bottoms. No sooner had I done this when the first rumble of thunder came followed by lightening, into the bag went to poles. So started the trudge to Mardale Head, torrential rain, thunder, forked and sheet lightening which I don't care what anyone says is scary, it terrifies me. The path disappeared and became a stream, the streams which normally cross the paths were beginning to get rather gurgly. Then nearing the turn we watched the mountain rescue helicopter land near the car park and just knew this was for a competitor. By this time it was obvious Angela was not going any further she was knackered. Kim and I were fine just getting more and more worried about the underfoot conditions. Much debate ensued as to what to do. In my heart I knew (especially after putting my foot through the edge of the path and nearly ending up in Haweswater) we really should pull out. Kim was talking sense but I have a certain mind set which makes me want to go on. She made the point that we couldn't see, hear or keep our feet in the light, what would the dark be like. So like teenagers we all made a pinky swear to end it at the checkpoint. Which we did.

At Mardale Head.
Once we had finally dibbed out and ate our soup and changed into our spare kit ( yes Marc you are vindicated). Both Kim and I were bouncing about trying to be cheerful and helpful. Angela was not really in a good way she couldn't get warm and ended up in a bivvy bag, shivering. I don't think we did the right thing for her by getting her to come on with us, but she said was pleased to have conquered the hardest bit and been almost forced to quit rather than just give up. It was very soon dark and as we waited to leave in the sweeper mini bus (the previous bus took away 35 runners, unprecedented in history of the checkpoint) we watched the beam of a headtorch coming along the other side of the water, then it suddenly turned and started going in the opposite direction. We knew it was a 100 runner because of the excellent system of tracking the event, we even knew who it was. This was very worrying for the checkpoint staff (The Delamere Spartans) so they sent out two runners to find out what was heppening. Bus driver drove along the road with Kim shining a high powered torch to the other side of the water. It took over an hour for them to locate the gentleman and turn in and bring him in. He had become disoriented and just turned round. Apart from that he was generally fine, but had timed out. So he was loaded into the mini bus and off we went to fill it up with stragglers at Kentmere.
Billy came to collect me and take me back to the B & B.

Conflicting Emotions.
Back at the B & B I couldn't sleep. Mostly I just wanted to cry but couldn't. I knew in my heart we'd made the right decision. I was gutted, completely gutted and couldn't focus at the time, all I saw was failure. However a good nights rest, listening to the pouring rain started to put it into some sort of perspective. I was pleased to go to the presentation and was very emotional when the young couple who had been in front of me until Howtown came in at the very end, they were elated and she was in floods of tears. I spoke to them, they were shattered but happy, he said it hadn't let up the whole night. That couple had real guts. I could cry now thinking about that. We have discussed it Kim and I and know we could of ran the risk of injury or worse and having completed it twice we felt it wasn't worth the risk to either us or anyone else to carry on. Angela said she slept in her car inside her bivvy bag and sleeping bag. She feels she may go back to being a marshal again next year, but this event gets into your blood. Still feeling conflicted but Billy was very happy that someone had sense and could help me see some for a change. He is however getting well used to my ever spiraling sense of adventure. I have been on facebook and so many of the stalwarts of this event pulled out either voluntarily or on a non voluntary basis and I think all are similarly gutted. The airlifted chap was injured but was recovering well after treatment. Lessons learned- not the least of which was humility and how much we are at the mercy of the awesome power of the natural world. It's much bigger us puny humans. Also carry that kit, people and never underestimate how it feels to be completely cold and miserable. I saw at first hand the debilitating affect it had on Angela's morale.

So to the future - I have an entry into Glen Ogle, so will train and give that my best shot. I have also been thinking of marshaling at an event n December. As for next year,I plan to enter the GL3D cafe' class, Kim and I may do the first day together and then decide if she wants to up the ante on her own for the other two. I'll take it as it comes and I have been offered the chance to think about marshaling at Lakeland, which I will seriously think about. I won't enter, I have asked Billy to hide my cards, when I say I won't enter I don't mean ever again but .......

Sorry if this has been a long blog but if you've made it to the end I thank you for listening to my head spill, I'm still way to emotional................................ Thanks to all the brilliant people on this journey, each and everyone who wished me well, helped me along... I didn't want to let anyone down, perhaps that's the bit that hurts the most.

Down, but not defeated LOL

Bye for now  

1 comment:

  1. Stirring stuff indeed and many congratulations both for the effort and having the good sense to do the right thing. The hills will always wait for us, but brave is the person to make the DNF call ... it does also stand for Did Nothing Fatal. Very well done, well written and good decision making. Best Wishes Mike