Nige’s Reading Endure 24 Race Report - 105 Miles 24hrs 40mins.
This is a personal report on my run at Reading Endure 24 2022 which I ran in aid of Pans Pandas UK, I’m no writer and this is just as how everything was, there is a lot of emotion but I don’t think a run like this is possible without high emotions, they come as a package, I knew it could be emotional and a rollercoaster but really not expecting just how much it would be. I hope by reading this you can maybe feel a little what it was like to cover that distance, a distance that has been covered a lot before but this was my first attempt, I had read many times unless you have run a 50 mile run don’t even attempt this. Many runners goals for this seem to be the golden 100 mile mark, and to do that in under 24 hours is a big challenge, but I’ve often wondered why don’t they run the extra few miles and make it 4 marathons, during the last lap, as you will find out later, I think I now know why!
I’ll write another article about the training at some stage but to give a very light outlook training had gone well overall, 8 months of training in total with some Covid put in the mix as well, but in general I felt I was in a good place to try and attempt this run.
With a few days to go my brother in law Vinnie and his wife Sanne came over from the Netherlands for the run, this was part of their holiday and getting away time, very sadly they lost their 13 day old daughter Lisa just over a year ago. Also only a few days before my great friend Boney had had his beautiful wife’s Sandra’s funeral, you’ll see later just why I am writing this but it is very significant.
On the Wednesday I woke up with the sniffles, this got progressively worse, Thursday I was feeling really bad, I was getting worried at this point and by Friday morning the day before the race I was starting to question if I should start, I was fully aware that the chances of me completing this was low and that was if I was feeling 100%, I certainly wasn’t feeling that at this moment in time but I went to get my final food supplies and we set off up to Reading on the Friday to set up camp the night before the race. My friends, or should I say awesome support team were coming up on both the Friday and Saturday, I was staying nearby at Jo’s dads place, this worked so well as he was 12 mins down the road which meant I could get a good nights sleep the night before.
Waking up on the race day morning I felt a lot better than I had been, not at 100% but certainly good enough to give this a go and see what happens, my main concern was if I had a bug that made me a bit breathless I wouldn’t know until the first few miles and I may have to pull the run really early on, but I thought of the charity I was running for, how much I wanted to do this for them, my own ambitions of pushing my body further than ever before, and got up with a positive frame of mind to do this. I think it is important to note that if you want to do something like this you must really WANT to do it, you need a reason for doing this, I wanted to raise money for the charity and also see just how far I could push myself personally, I think if you go into it ’just because’ then you maybe set up for a bad run.
The weather luckily had also cooled down so when I got there after eating a huge amount of porridge I thought, well conditions couldn’t be any better, I think I’m prepared, I had an awesome support team helping me, I can’t mention all of them……actually what the heck, I will as without them this simply wouldn’t have happened, my team consisted of my wife Samara, her brother and wife Vinnie and Sanne and my great friends for life Andy, Jo, their son Jonty, Gaz, J….o, Boney, Paul, Phil, Wendy & Pompey. My good friend Ben was due to support but he had just picked up a bug. Also coming to support me later in the day was my great friend and running buddy Katie with her man Ryan and son Harry…….which reminds me, I’ve got to mention my training buddies as I would never have been put in the good position I was in without them so thank to Katie, Ryan, Phil, Andrea, Dan and Andy.
With 25 minutes to go we had a few photo’s together and I was getting psyched up. We had found a place on the side of the course just past the start finish line to put my table of supplies and where I could drop by each lap. The laps are 5 mile loops, so I was never far away from supplies. As the weather was good and I was going to the start line now feeling pumped and good, I had planned for my first mini stop of a couple of minutes or so after lap 3 so 15 miles and asses the situation from there.
With 10 minutes to go it felt great mixing in and talking to other runners again, looking back at it on the start line I wasn’t thinking oh how am I going to do this, will I still be on the course in 24 hours time? That would be a scary thought, I was just starting this like any other run I’ve been in, it could have been a 10km fun run as far as I was thinking. It is important to enjoy it as much as possible so any thought of the distance or the time I was going to run just never occurred to me, maybe it should have but it wasn’t there and I was just ready to go, before I knew it, it was midday and go go go.
Starting these events is always bunched up in the first few miles and this was no exception, however this was a really good thing as it was vital I didn’t start off too quick, even though for this distance going quick is really still very slow, but I knew what I wanted to do and to my surprise managed to stick with it most of the time! The first lap I was just getting a feel for the course, a bit of a long hill was just around the corner in the first km, this was a bit longer than I expected and a lot of people were walking straight away up here, I didn’t this time but thought I really need to later! The course was lovely, in stunning grounds and the event organises had done a fantastic job with volunteers placed at good cheering points, I can’t thank them enough either, they help so much when going through bad patches, it was quite twisty turny in places a few other smaller hills and just before the 5km mark there was a large bar / water station, I ran past here thinking that all looks good, loads of treats and drinks but I doubt I’ll use them (how wrong could I be!) then you turn the corner to heartbreak hill, named with good reason, bit of a steep climb but nothing too drastic, however I was well aware this could be an issue later so I power walked up that hill which was no slower than running so from that early stage I thought I will use this point to take on any gels I may need later in the run, this turned out to work out really well so I was kinda thankful that hill was there, it help break the lap up into 2 parts for me, once up the hill you then wind in and out of trees and roots in the woods, this was going to be a challenge in the dark, but thought if I actually get to the stage where I need a head torch I would have been doing pretty well so thought lets just wait and see if I get to that point, then you wind down the hill, a few more turns, see a 7km sign then before you know it you are back into the main field where the last 1/2km is before crossing the start finish to start another lap.
On the second lap the field was starting to split up a bit, most of the event is a team relay so you had people flying round the course, then you had around 300 solo runners, you could tell us apart due to the speeds but also because most people had Solo written on there legs and arms, I didn’t and soon realised they were getting so much encouragement and support so kept that in the back of my mind for later. Halfway through the second lap a runner started chatting away to me, she was running way quicker than I wanted too but was a solo runner as well, so I thought I’d chat with her for a bit, we talked about the distances we were hoping to go, when I said I wanted to do 21 laps she seemed far from convinced but for me that just spurs me on! I looked at my watch and thought well I can’t continue like this, at the start finish she went off to her running supplies and I then went back to the pace I should have been running at! This is a problem I always seem to have and it happens in training also, when you are chatting away to other runners you can end up running far quicker than you mean too, lap 2 turned out to be my quickest lap but I knew I needed to stick to my target time of my first supply stop which was between 2.45pm and 3pm.
I finished lap 3 and got to my table at around 2.45pm, excellent! I could have a slightly longer food and drink intake and set out on my 4th lap feeling good, which I really did. My team had done a great job of laying out different food options from my supply bag so it made it quick and easy, spirits were good. I was getting into a rhythm of every lap finding someone just in front of me going around the same speed and just watching their footsteps in front of me and tagging on, you can always mistakingly go off to fast in these distances but you can't ever go off too slow, it often helped to find someone a little slower as I knew going to quick at this point would prove costly later on.
At the beginning of my 5th lap I thought I’d come in for the first proper stop so at mile 25, but halfway round that lap I thought no, I don’t want to stop before completing a marathon, I know it is only just over another mile to 26.2 but psychologically it made a difference to me, so straight onto lap 6 and starting to feel a bit leggy now, stopping for a pit stop and 20 minute break to eat pasta etc was certainly appealing but then that niggle in my head said well I may as well have my pit stop at mile 35 so that way I know I am a 3rd of the way there so that’s what I did, I let my team know I was coming in for pasta and a change of socks etc after lap 7 and that was settled. On this lap I got talking to another runner and I said I think even though I am drinking loads my pee is very dark so I must drink plenty on this pit stop, he replied he can’t remember if he had even had a wee so I thought well at least I managed something! When I came in everything was set out ready again, I got some pasta down me, put on some fresh socks, more snacks and drinks and ready to go again, I can’t quite recall if this was on this break but I think it was, I asked if anyone had any lipstick, not because I wanted to start running in lippy but to write ‘solo’ on my legs, I knew I could be feeling worse quite soon so any sound of ‘well done solo’ was going to be a good thing! It was now just before 7pm before I set off out for my 8th lap.
My longest training run, and longest run ever was just a few weeks before when I ran 40 miles, this lap was going to equal that and I had just fully stocked up on food and had the new sock feeling, this was going to be a great lap but instead I felt shit! Not sure why, I wasn’t trying new foods but something just didn’t feel good in my tummy but I carried on and completed that lap, I said to the team that was a crap lap, took on some more drink and encouragement and got the legs to start lap 9. It was at that point I started to have to dig deep, this particular lap my mind drifted and I started to think about dear Sandra and how lucky I was to be out running and to pull out of this low, it really helped and I finished lap 9 well, I went up to Boney, gave him a hug, and said that lap was for Sandra and got set out for a milestone to get to 50 miles. By now the head torches were all fully lit and the course had taken a completely different look, running this in the dark would have been amazing if I hadn’t already run 45 miles, but it was still great to do, and I had no real choice in the matter!
I was then contemplating another longer stop but realised I was behind on my rough plan of where I thought I would be and when, I was fully aware I would be going so much slower in the latter part and calculated that in, so ideally I would be at mile 60 at around midnight, this didn’t quite work out though, I wasn’t feeling great so I felt I was fading, did I stop for longer or keep going risking total burn out, I took a chance and thought I would stop at mile 60. I came past my table at mile 55 and I really was struggling now. It was at this point I used my first ‘Lisa token’ These were small round plastic printed discs that when held up to the light you can see the photo, hard to explain but he set me out with one of those. At the bottom of heartbreak hill I was now starting to get into a good routine, this was the power walk hill, so in that time I had my gel and took lisa out of my pocket and said right lets get this lap done, that gave me the boost I needed and before I knew it I was back at my next pit stop for the finish of mile 60, it was strange to have seen the main clock at the start finish line go from midday to midnight, had I really been doing this for 12 hours?! This time when I took my trainers off I had a large blister building underneath a toenail, it looked like it was going to fall off but we kind of stuck it together with a plaster, sorted another blister and then I changed trainers. This was risky as these were trainers ½ a size larger than my normal trainers, I was aware that my feet could swell during the race and in the last couple of weeks had got these trainers just in case, well I was at this point now where I thought if these blisters get worse that me out of the run, Andy did ask me if it was a wise decision and I replied I haven’t got a clue but we will see after the next lap, if this backfired and made it worse then I reckon by mile 80 I would be gone.
New socks, new trainers, more pasta, more snacks and drinks, change of much warmer top and put on hat and gloves and I set out for my 13th lap.
The course seemed pretty empty at this point, most sensible people were getting a few minutes or hours sleep but I felt even a 15 min power nap may not be the best idea for me personally, so through the night I went, during that lap I realised I may have over done it on the clothing, that hat that gloves etc, I was steaming!! I was actually struggling to see though my head torch light because of the steam coming off me, this came and went so I stuck with the hat and gloves for now. I did think I’m probably better to be way too warm now than too cold, the further into the run I knew my decision making may get worse so thought it best to steam away, at the bottom of the hill my normal routine, gel then Lisa who helped me up that hill and to complete another lap. This got me to 65 miles, which was great as I thought my longest training run was 40 miles, all I’ve got to do is repeat that, and I know I can run 40 miles as I did it a few weeks ago, you kind of put in the back of your mind you have already run 65 and on that training 40 I was fresh going into it, the point was, was that I knew 40 was in my limits, if I done it before I can certainly do it again.
Lap 14 and I was starting to really go places in my head, up one small hill which I done 13 times before I thought I saw all these birds on the ground, they turned out to be tufts of grass which I realised quite soon and chuckled to myself. Also at this point peeing in portaloos isn’t easy in the dark as my trainers found out, also when your mind is slowly going and you’re super tired you’re not entirely sure when you are done……..enough said on that!
Saying super tired, I obviously was as it was about 3am and I had been running for 15 hours but I can never remember yawning in the whole run, I never really felt tired, you probably feel more tired reading this than I thought I felt but that was probably just my body and mind knowing the goal I had set out to do and just keeping going. It was also at around this time where I realised my support team were still going strong, they had sorted out a rota so there would always be somebody there at any one time, the consistant for this was Vinnie who never left, the endurance to do that was incredible, I mean I was at least running to keep myself awake, he just kept on going, seeing me out lap after lap, again like I say everyone who was there was just so great, apologies if I don’t mention everyone for what they did but some images stay in your mind, and I remember Jo standing there cheering me on helping me at the table, sending me on my way, then I realised, hang on a moment it’s around 3am she is 8 months pregnant and she is cheering me on before finishing her shift to go back to sleep on an airbed for a few hours! That for me is endurance and I thought incredible.
Again my normal routine on this lap, Lisa helping me out up that hill and final few kms on each lap this was to happen on every lap from now on, it helped me so much each time, I was actually looking forward to getting to the hill every lap.
Lap 15 and it was starting to get light and the dawn was coming this should have given me a boost, it did for a bit, around 5mins, I was really starting to hurt at this point, I thought long and hard about the sufferers of Pans Pandas, what they have to go through, daily suffering, I was only suffering for a few hours which is nothing in comparison, that gave me some perspective and I focused on then getting that lap done and getting to mile 75!
It’s now at this point you really start to do calculations in your head, I don’t listen to music when running, I just work out pace and time, what I need to be doing, and at this point I was concentrating on what I needed to be doing, going forward! I worked out that is I officially had until 1pm I still had a lot of time but things were really becoming a struggle, from this lap onwards every time I got something from my table I quickly stopped and thought I needed to be sick, I never actually was but I certainly gagged a few times, but I really didn’t want anything to come up as I knew how important it was to keep things down.
As much as I was starting to struggle and well aware that most people who attempt this and fail, they tend to at around mile 80. I think this was playing on my mind at this point and I got some extra determination as lap 16 was my quickest since lap 10! This meant just before 6am I was at mile 80, so I had left myself nearly 7 hours to cover a marathon, now this sounds simple, I know reading this you would think how can you not do this, but believe me, after you have run 80 you do not want to put one more foot in front of the other, but because I had had such a good lap I went in to lap 17 feeling pretty good, well good in my head at least, my larger trainers were working but I was well aware of those blisters, I contemplated another sock change but I didn’t want to waste too much time doing that and I also, and more importantly I thought if I dare take my sock off then my toenail may go with it, I thought this was all best left alone, I was comfortable to a degree so why change it.
All throughout lap 17 I was just working out my times, I realised this was going to be closer than I had imagined and that got me into a low again, speaking to other runners was getting increasingly difficult, you had the relay teams fling past you, the solo runners who were all just getting so drained, and even if you did find someone of similar pace I soon realised I didn’t have much energy to talk to them anyway! Me? Not talk? What was happening to me!?!
I completed lap 17 at around 7.10am, 85 miles done, just the 20 to go, but I really was getting fatigued now, however the joy and smiles on my teams faces as I approached my table again really helped, I think they must have been looking at me thinking I was really struggling now but they certainly didn’t show it. I threw down what seemed to be my favorite food of choice during the whole run, blueberries, and then chose to mix some salt crispy snacks into an angel delight, this sounds disgusting, I mean it is, I’m not sure what I was thinking but mixing them up together meant I could get much needed salt into my body and swallow down easier with the angel delight, that was my reasoning at least and at the time it didn’t taste too bad! I don’t think it’ll be in restaurants anytime soon though!
As I headed out for lap 18 I was starting to want this over now, running up heartbreak hill I said to Lisa just 3 more times up here and we have done it, but it was at the end of this lap finishing at 8.25am I was battling harder than ever, not so much with my body, that had gone, but it was at least still moving and as far as I could tell I was still moving forward, but my head. I so wanted to do this and get to lap 21 but I knew at this point I was going so slow it was now going to be highly unlikely I was going to make 105 miles, I was though thinking I could possibly make the 100 and not a step further! I realised now that this is why people do 100 and that is it, doing those extra 5 miles on top sounds like a great idea on paper and it’s only another few miles, but it’s not, it’s really not.
I had a few minutes trying to eat something, but eating was getting tiring in itself, it took effort to move my jaw to chew, so angel delight it was! I was making sure I was taking on electrolyte drinks and trying to get as much as I could in me but I just wanted to throw it back up.
I started lap 19 certainly with the thought this was my second to last lap, I did think if I could have a good lap now that may change but I knew that couldn’t happen as my feet wanted to stop, everything inside me wanted to stop but I thought if I can complete this lap by 9.50am I’ve got enough time to litrally crawl round on my hands and knees to get to 100. I was getting really disappointed with myself at this stage, I set out to do 4 marathons so needed that extra lap, I’d built this up to complete 21 laps, not 20. That being said I thought you know what 100 miles is still going to be great, so my mind had been made up halfway round lap 19, I was to do this course one more time as a last horrah and call it a day.
I completed that lap by around 10am, I needed to stop for longer this time, but I knew I couldn‘t stop for too long, I knew that the next lap I would be walking most of it and this would take me a lot longer, if I was to complete that by 11.30 then I knew I couldn’t get another in to make it to 21. I said to my team, this is it now, I’ve got nothing more to give, I looked at the pans pandas tee shirt I had on my table and thought sorry to let you down, I didn’t quite do it, then Boney came up to me, gave me a hug and said Nige I want you to do something, he had been wearing his wife Sandras hair band for several weeks, this was what she had with her when she sadly passed a few weeks ago, it is something I believed he would never take off his arm, I knew what he was going to do as he started to pull it off his arm, I told him, please don’t do that, you can’t do that, but he is a big guy and I wasn’t going argue, in fact even if he wasn’t a big guy I couldn’t argue with anyone at that point! He put it around my arm and said Nige, Sandra is going with you on this lap, please take it with you. I was crying, gave him a hug forced some more blueberries down me and waddled away to finish my run.
As I started that run I was looking at the hair band, I said right Sandra, lets get this done, as I went up the first of the hills I thought I may as well race walk this bit up here, I got to 2km into that lap and realised by race walking I was going faster than I thought, all of a sudden I got a boost, the mind started to wander and start doing calculations again, I got to 4km into the lap and just before the drinks station where I was going to top up but instead I powered on through, I powered up heartbreak hill where I had lisa helping as well, this was great, I had Sandra, Lisa, the power of the Pans Pandas sufferers willing me to do this and myself, my own grit and determination…….hang on a second I thought……if I could keep this going until the end of this lap I could give myself an hour and 40 minutes to attempt one last lap, such a long time to just do 5 miles, it nearly impossible not to do, was it now possible I could get another lap in? “Course you bloody can” I heard Sandra saying to me! that was it, my mind had changed back again, I got to the last km of that lap and Phil saw me on the course, he walked with me for a few metres and said he struggled to keep up, I’m not sure if he was just saying that to keep my spirits up but I didn’t seem to slow down so either way it worked. I was glad I saw him as I said 1 more lap, get 4 gels ready and a change of top as I was sweltering. The finish line and my table was about 200 metres apart so I knew that most of the guys would be at the finish line as this was my last lap, Phil was cheering so much from the side as I came into the last 1/2km, then I had the rest of the guys being amazing, cheering me on, willing me on to get this lap done. I was now on the finish straight where I heard the announcer mentioning my name as I was just about to complete my 20th lap and 100 miles, I could see everyone on the sides roaring me home, I glanced over and thought for a split second, shall I go in, shall I stop now? No, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, the only way I could ever be in this position again is to run another 100 miles, I crossed the line at 11.07am just beyond that you can veer right off the track and I’m done, carry on forward and I have 1 hour 53 minutes to get round one more time…..there was no question on what I was going to do and I went for the last lap.
Approaching my table I didn’t want to hang around, so much so I took my top off beforehand ready to change, I had 2 shirts to choose from a sleeveless top or my Pans Pandas top which was on my table most of the race, I had been reluctant to put this on as on the back of it, it says 4 marathons, this had to be the top to wear now as I was getting confident I could do this, I put that on, took 4 gels with me and shot off as quick as I could not wanting to loose too much momentum.
As I started up the early hill for the last time I was approaching a lady who had been walking the whole event, I got into the slip stream, but this wasn’t a quick overtaking manoeuvre, it was a walk beside her and realise I’m not going to make it manoeuvre, why was I even thinking of overtaking anyone at this point? This was a roll it home nice and easy lap, I started to try to talk to her then realised my words weren’t really coming out of my mouth clearly, the effort and energy it took to talk felt so intense that I let her go on, Soon after that I realised my power walking had about as much power as a fart trying to blow over an oak tree, I now needed to pee again but I was starting to worry that stopping for that may mean I won’t get going again, I looked behind me and nobody was around I contemplated weeing whist walking but I knew that may not end too well so I dived into the bushes, and got back out as quick as I could. I had now done what was 2km of the last lap and I had already taken 3 gels out the 4, I wasn’t even sure when I done this but it must have been between the table and the 2km marker, I was looking at my watch trying to work out just how slow I could go, great news, I could go mega slow, and I was! It was around that time all of a sudden my body seemed like it wanted to shut down, I mean I had had dizzy spells before, they kind of happen then go away after eating or drinking but this was different, very different. I knew the gels I had taken had had no effect, and in any case these were getting really sickly at this point, I had water but I didn’t want to water down the electrolytes that were still in my body and make it worse, I was looking at my feet, trying to work out if they really were mine or somebody else’s, I wasn’t sure, I made an attempt to not look down then, keep head up nice and tall and breath in and out, but then everything around me started to spin around, the solid ground looked like it was moving, rippling like small waves and I was going against the tide. I’ve hit marathon walls before but this was no wall, it felt like a 100ft thick steel girder……I realised then, hmm I’m in trouble, which that in itself gave me a small amount of confidence, at least I knew I was in trouble so to some degree I was still with it and thinking a little bit. I had promised my wife and parents that I will push myself to the limit and beyond but not so much so that I could do serious damage, this was the stop now feeling, but I just knew I had to keep moving forward, I also made an effort to keep to the centre of the track and not the side, I thought if I faint at least they can find me quicker, I generally thought every step I take from now on could be the last I remember and I could wake up in hospital. At other low points I could drag myself out by saying I’m doing this for Pans Pandas, people in far more worse positions than this, and it often worked, I knew at this point though nothing was going to make much difference, I was either going to make it or not. My shirt has the charity name on the back as well as the front so when a man ran passed saying, what a fantastic charity to support I wanted to say thank you for saying, yes they do fantastic work and help so many people, instead what came out of my mouth was nothing more than a dribbley thanks, and then it happened again! It seemed everyone wanted to talk, I wanted to talk back but just couldn’t.
Somehow I reached 4km, this was by determination from somewhere, I had the 3 photo discs of Lisa in my back pocket and she was pushing me along, Sandra was still with me too, I knew if I could get to that 5km water station I could get help, that was the stage I was at now, I thought I need help, I need something, I don’t know what but I am seconds away from passing out here. Then a lovely woman came along beside me saying she had read my charity story on the twitter feed and how she knows a lot about pans pandas, I think she knew though I was in trouble, I said “yeah, it’s great, but I’m just concentrating to get to the drinks stop” “it’s only 1km away” she said, “do you have anything on you?” I said “just 1 gel” “ah, it’s only 1km until the drinks station you should be ok” and off she went.
That 1km then felt like around an hour to get done, I know it wasn’t but time was starting to get confusing now. The actual course I really wasn’t recognising too much even though this was the 21st time I had been running on it, then heard the music of the drinks station and stumbled my way to get a drink from there for the first time in the entire run. The man behind the bar had 2 jugs of electrolyte drinks, he looked at me and said “are you ok?” “Not really“ I said. “Have some of this, berry or orange flavour?” “yes” I said, “another one?” “Uh huh“, “another one?” “Uh huh“, “a fourth one?” “Uh huh“. “You don’t look too good really” he said, “yyyyeeeaaahhhh” I replied, ooohh, a tray of sweets, I grabbed a handful to put in my pocket, I think about 2 went in, I took another handful to shove in my mouth now, about another 2 went in, then I realised I would need to chew them and even doing that my body was saying “na, too much effort now” I then emptied my water bottle and said “can you fill this up please?” I knew that this drink was better than water for me.
I stood there another couple of minutes, this was stupid I thought, I’ve done around 103 miles, 165km, I had just 3km to go, yet I was thinking I HAVE to stop here, I can’t get walking again, I just can’t move again, but I am so close, how can I be this close and want to give up so much? My legs actually felt ok-ish and that wasn’t the problem, the problem was I was that far depleted I knew I was playing with fire now, if I were to quit here they could get me medical help and I would be safe, if I carried on I might not be found for 30 mins and that could get really dangerous. This was it, decision time…..I then thought of baby Lisa again, how much she had fought everyday of her life, at least I have the opportunity to at least try this, she would never have these opportunities, I said “right, get me up this hill Lisa and we can do it“, I’m not sure if I said that out loud as the man behind the bar was looking ever strangely at me………“right, I’m going for it“, I said, “you take care came the reply“, I got to the bottom of the hill and like a zombie walked up the hill, it genuinely felt like Lisa was pulling me up that hill, I don’t think I will ever know how I got up there but in my mind this was all thanks to her, she had given me something from somewhere to get to the top, problem being I wondered how to get back down again! The route back down was full of tree roots, not normally a problem but it is if your legs aren’t lifting and your dragging your feet along the ground, like I say my legs didn’t actually feel too bad but my brain and legs had decided to give up communication a long time ago, brain this is your legs, come in brain, hello? Are you there?,…… nope……..nothing
I was now nearly sleep walking, I just thought Lisa, guide me back to the finish line please, I’m no longer capable. I kept sipping bits of the drink I had gotten, I think this was keeping me going too, I then saw the 7km marker, 1 more km to go, less than a mile though the last km felt like another 100. I was walking so slowly but I now thought I think we can do this, but until I cross that line I just don’t know. I got to the last 1/2km, Phil was there cheering and shouting away, I was just staring at the ground, looking up to see him would have cost me too much energy, then I thought electrolyte drink, I looked up and said to him, “drink, at end, now“…….or something resembling that, with a couple of hundred feet to go Vinnie was shouting his head off, as I think was Gaz and Andy at the last turn but I’m unsure. I knew the others will be at the finish line. I got into the final straight, heard my name being mentioned again and thought right, time for my final sprint, haha, this consisted of around 2 meteres of slightly quicker dragging feet along the ground, I could hear my friends / support team shouting and cheering, in my head I had thought earlier what I was going to do if I complete this, how I may just shout with utter delight, jump up in the air fist pumping in celebration but any thought of well anything had evaporated, I stumbled over the finish line in 24 hours 43 minutes 50 seconds, where I fell into my waiting wife’s arms!…….Somehow……we had done it!
I hugged her and the emotion was overwhelming I was in floods of tears, but I wasn’t, I had drained myself that much nothing was coming out, I had loads of congratulations but I couldn’t even really smile, I was desperate too but nothing really happened, I just collapsed to the ground and starred around a bit, I had to ask again if I had done it, it was now not just my brain and legs having an argument, my brain had now decided to ignore the rest of my body. I drank loads more drink and started to come round a bit, I got helped to the medal exchange bit, and I was told the medical tent was there if I needed it. I decided I wasn’t right, I needed it.
Everything checked out fine, I was just so low on vital fluids, even though I had been taking a lot on I was just drained of everything, after an hour in there I was feeling much more with it and thought, can I cross the line now please, feeling like this, it would be much better! The thought I had done it never really fully sank in that day, I was so pleased I had done this for the sufferers of Pans Pandas and had raised some awareness and much needed funds which I whole heartedly thank everyone who sponsored me, there are some really kind people out there, I really had gone on the ultimate journey, running on my own, yet never on my own, I still can’t thank my wonderful wife and support team enough for what they did that day, seriously without them I really wouldn’t have got anywhere near and I will forever be thankful and grateful to everyone of them, It was not only months of training and determination that got me there but the power and strength I got from Sandra and from Lisa that day I will never forget,they may not be here with us anymore physically but they were certainly with me that day and without them I know I wouldn’t have made it.
Its now a couple of weeks after the run, apart from an Achilles being a little tight I really recovered very quickly, when I tried to sleep after the run it took me a while to actually get to sleep due to leg spasms and the pain in my legs, however after a good 13 hour sleep the next day I felt pretty good considering and had 2 big plates of chicken pasta bake for ’breakfast’ my sense of time hadn’t really come back, it feels weird starting a run Saturday lunchtime and finishing it over 24 hours later, you really just think you have just gone for a normal run and it must be the evening, but you kind of loose a day. It is still really strange to think I did actually run 105 miles, I still read about ultra runners attempting to run 100 miles and some make it and some don’t, I then think could I do that? One day maybe I could be an ultra runner? Then I look at the race results and realise I have done that! I still think I am no ultra runner but then again some ultra runners wouldn’t run 4 marathons back to back so I guess it makes me something, I really am a normal average runner who thanks to great support, a good training period, and determination found from places I didn’t even know existed managed to keep running and going forward for the same amount of time the earth spins round, which I guess is quite a while.
My ambition to run this distance for me personally and to raise money for the charity did turn out to be a huge success, clearly though this was a long way and not your average distance run, it did take a lot of time and commitment, but the months of training were all part of the same goal and journey, it nearly felt like this run started in October and 8 months later I reached my target. I think it goes for any run really, if you have never run before and you train to run a 5km in a few months from nothing that is just as incredible in my mind, it’s all relevant to what you are use too, it could be that reading this may inspire you too get out running, or maybe if not running doing something to help one of the many charities out there that need all the support as much as possible, don't think about it, go and do it. Luckily at the moment my legs and brain are use to running quite a distance, so naturally I think could I do this again? Was this just a fluke and I got lucky, or if I worked at this could I actually go one better? That is a question I really don’t know the answer too, I think leaving this distance as a tried it once and was successful is a really nice thing to do, and let’s not forget I haven’t given a 50 mile race or a 12 hour run a go yet! There are certainly a lot of options out there, but for now I will just relax, put the trainers on, and see where my legs take me............................I just hope now my legs and brain have decided to be friends again!