So, who knows why we agree to do these things. For me it was all the positive talk from Endure 2018, and the relentless enthusiasm of Nick Hutchinson, Jon Watson and Steve Farrell. So signed up added to the last team, who is going to Captain. Nobody seemed bothered and interested to see if you can lead one of these things from the back, I agreed to step up.
To be fair I didn’t really know Kevin Reardon (He had said some positive words to me about Brad! But 2 week before we all got to share his Ultra experience live on Facebook), Steve Powell – I knew a little through his sister Sarah Powell (who is possibly the most capable novice runner in our club, if only she believed that to!) David Hayden I had exchanged smiles with at 6.40 whilst waiting for club nights to start, but Claire Hayden had run in the same groups as me and I remember, the positive words of encouragement she had shared with me when I first joined the club and was struggling with Group 4 speeds (New Group 5!) and when she waited with me at the start of the year when I popped my hamstring running intervals around St Wilfred’s Rd.
We all have our injuries and health problems, I’m no exception or anything special, but 4 weeks before race start I was in A&E with chest pain, 6th time in 5 years, very frustrating but tests all done and nothing majorly serious. I was still nervous about pushing my body. For most people racing and Endurance events are mental and not physical, ie you are able to push your bodies by learning to turn off the pain barrier, but I can’t do that any more. I need to stop or monitor my efforts and can only work to 60-70% otherwise I seem to get poorly for weeks afterward.
An advance party of 5 cars set off, from the Sun Inn, scandal from the start as Nick Hutchinson bribes/thanks Becky with a McDonalds, causing us to be late, but not really late. Balancing the role for Endure President/Diplomat with Fatherly responsibilities can’t be easy. We meet proper and final at the gates of Endure and all get out of cars at 7.50. I had wondered what Mrs Hayden would be like, I was not disappointed: bubbly, smiling, supportive, confident – perfect. Two hours standing in the cold shadows of the woods, 2nd in the cue of cars was time enough for us to share stories, a few laughs. And then the gates opened and off we went to reserve the best possible place for our team of 33 runners, with about 500 cars lined up behind us. So Nick knew exactly what he wanted and he dished out his orders and we dutifully complied; communal area surrounded by Teamed tents – 4 hours later done and the masses started arriving having left work early to help with preparations and start drinking.
For those of you that missed the Friday night you missed a treat, a very relaxed evening, Mark Bower fired up his barbecue, James Holloway made a massive Chilli and Nick made a Michelin star Paella on his fancy Cadac stove. Jo Derxhad made some fantastic Chicken Kebabs but she was so busy trying everyone else’s food, like me, she forgot to cook them. Jonathan Jones lit his fire and burnt his old bunk bed.
I was hoping Zoe Kerrigan and Karen could do a tag team support for our entire team, but Thursday morning, Nick was in my office discussing the Friday Barbecue, when he was receiving messages from Sam Charlesworth about her injuries and he just joked with Zoe, will you do it and she said yes, 22 years I’ve been married I’ve never had a yes so quickly. Voodoo I tell you, must be.
I had asked the team if they had any goals, I was hoping that one or 2 of them might want to smash out 7 or 8 laps, which would allow me time to take it easy, but they were all really chilled and all wanted to go with the flow and see how they felt.
And so the day began 1st lap down, wow it was hot, but still some great times from the 4 runners. I ran walked a 65 minuter. Lap 2 down and I had asked Kevin to go out of sequence so I got extra rest and could do a lap with Zoe, this ended up being Zoe’s slowest lap (Go figure!!) So Kevin had done 3 and the rest of us 2 laps. I had discussed with Steve him doing his 4th lap after Kevin, which would put back my 3rdlap. I fell asleep, deep deep sleep, the best sleep, only to be awoke by Neil Costigan shouting Zoe with a 25 minute warning. My brain is normally really good at working through times, adding subtracting and memorizing times, but I couldn’t work out when it was my time to run. I got up only to be met by an equally confused David Hayden who told me he was going next and then Claire. Putting everyone straight I did the 3rd lap which was he Night time lap, some of us had never run in the dark before. I was really nervous of tripping and went especially slowly, to start with but then I was treated to the sunrise and finished the run able to turn off my torch. Allowing David to do his 4th with Claire following. We all watched her finish her fourth she struggled to run up the hill, the anguish in her face was painful for me to see, but I could see her parents were really upset. She declared herself done, very brave. I had set a previous maximum of 3 laps but having watched the guys go through their 5th I decided to do 4 feeling really good going into the lap I was hoping to try and get a sub 1 hour run, but the body said no, everything started to seize up, there was nothing I could do, when whilst I was jogging 2 walkers over took me. And then a pat on the shoulder and Matthew Thomas Burnsovertook me with a double limp on his 6thlap, I could see his pain, I could feel his pain as we limped toward the finish line his lead growing steadily.
The night was something quite amazing for Zoe and me, most of you were pushing your bodies to the extreme, I decided to busy myself with manual work in the kitchen to fend off sleep. We watched Neil sleep with one eye open, Nick close his eyes but not sleep, but the prize for sleeping surely has to go to John Worthington who sleeps with his mouth open and a gentle snore that is as constant and reliable as a metronome.
So there are a number of proper athletes in the club and we all knew they would do well, anything sub 40 for a man is magnificent and ladies who run sub 45 incredible. But for me the efforts of others are equally as impressive; Our Solo runner Nicola Wilkinson, who I don’t really know, but appeared for short visits to Camp Danum overflowing with energy, 8 laps for Laura Sydney; when she outdrank everyone on Friday, was awake the earliest on Saturday and had the odd tipple throughout the race also. Neil Costigan, who would not want to be in his team, he was present at all the transitions, always positive. Jon Watson, leading a funky reduced team until Captain Adi Tuplin was able to come and help packing in 5 runs in 15 hours. But I have to say I was most impressed with Zoe nearly 6 hours on her feet negative splits, except when I slowed her down. We have been reading facebook posts all day yesterday, finishing each others sentences, who’d have thought it!!
The Hutchinson Family. Nick is Mr Positive always got a good encouraging and informative word to say, a true student of form and race prep. Lynn Hutchinson is a grafter, I watched as she mothered her girls cooking and looking after them. Very special intelligent young women, keen to help and support. I am not a dog lover, embarrassed to say I am maybe a bit phobic of dogs, but little Ruby seemed to steal everyone’s hearts, watching her lick Adi’s face for over a minute was something that made me cringe, but cringe in a nice way. Ruth Medlock interact with her own family was something quite special, a mother is always a mother, even when she is tired, you woman are amazing.
Monday, late to the party but not too late. The Kerrigans joined a farewell and didn’t we do well Breakfast at Toby Carvery, Edenthorpe. A nice time to reflect and share stories again.
What a lovely weekend and not a crossed word or argument in 3 days with 33 tired bodies, that has got to be amazing.