Course: First 25 miles, mostly flat and some minor hills. Last 15 miles, there were quite a few steep hills. Ground was muddy from the last couple of rainy days.
Route Description: Personally thought it was excellent.
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent
Food: When there was some, very good. Carrot cake was divine at CP2
Weather: Dry and perfect (10 degrees celcius and overcast)
Start Time: 07:00
Location: Henley Upon Thames
Please can I pull my tyre, Red at your event.
We don’t discriminate against people with dogs; so is the tyre obedient?
Of course Red is now obedient. Since her redesign and marriage to Landy, she has settled down and been fine on muddy grounds
4th May 2012: Final Preparation
The plan was to have a cheesy pasta dinner and then sleep early, but preparation continued. First with touching Red up with some fresh paint and then was sucked towards “the cloud”. The internet has replaced television to providing an unlimited amount of information, entertainment and socializing. My route preparation to the venue, took a diversion to replying to emails, chatting to friends on facebook, and browsing websites in my search for solar ventilation/heating. My early night was midnight and a conversation in my head told me 5 hours sleep would be fine…..that is, if I had slept. The engine in my head was still churning out thoughts and it was about 2am when I resorted to a tension technique in order to relax the body.
5th May 2012: It's All About the Food
I wrestle with early mornings but I did manage to get myself out of bed by 05:15, eat the rest of last night’s pasta and a sausage for breakfast and was out the door by 06:00 as planned. Arrived at the venue by 06:35, tried to check in. My name was not there! Thankfully I had my event number and found myself....of course ...listed under “Tyre”. After all this was Red's event. I was simply the "dragger".
I was anxious to get going, however my reins were held back. I had to chill out with the other walkers and do a mass start at 07:00. So I fubbled, that is fussed around with my gear and bumbled around and tried to get the morning’s abultion out of the way. Guess no such thing when one has had carbohydrate, fat and protein for dinner and breakfast.
Announcement: There is flooding on the banks of the Thames…
Mutterings: And there is still a hose pipe band!
Announcement: So there is a diversion at Goring. There will be a marshal to guide you. You can see the new route on the map over there. So now if you are ready, tear off your “tear-off” strip off your event card into the “Start Time” box and have a great day!
My brain cells are rarely awake in the morning and there is a dull sense of awareness. Morning conversations are generally avoided.
Walker 1: Does it have a name?
TG: It’s a “she” and her name is Red
Walker 1: But it looks orange.
TG: Her name is Red!
Walker 1: Why not Orange?
TG: You’re only looking at her superficially. What primary colours make orange?
Walker 1: Oh yeah, I get it.
TG: Anyway I have to do a short run as Red wants to get moving.
The walking mass were a couple of hundred metres ahead of me, so running really did not get me very far before I had slow down back to a walking pace to meet another inquisitive older walker.
TG: Yes I will be doing 40 miles with Red.
Walker 2: But she doesn’t look Red
TG: Yes I know. She likes the name Red
Walker 2: She is orange you know.
TG: Yes she doesn’t like being called orange.
I could not push forward as we were grouped together on a narrow street. I was trapped with this older gentleman.
Walker 2: You know it’s going to be all countryside on this route?
TG: Yes I know. I like small quiet marathons.
Walker 2: Well you’re not going to get any donations.
TG: Yes I’m not expecting any.
Walker 2: And there are lots of obstacles like roots and rocks and stiles….
TG: Yes I’m good with all of that. I’m a professional now. So how many marathons have you done?
Have found a question is always a good way of deflecting off negative conversations.
Walker 2: Oh I just did 50 miles last weekend, 40 this weekend, and will do another 50 next weekend…..you know you’re not going to get a lot of donations
Oh dear perhaps he has a little dementia? Or perhaps he was just adamant to make his opinion known.
TG: Wow that’s a lot of miles. What was last week’s marathon like?
Walker 2: It was a little wet and muddy. You know us walkers and runners won’t have any change on us because we want to be light. See change makes us heavy.
TG: Notes will be fine….
Walker 2: I mean you are expecting change in your bucket, right?
My synaptic neurons were pulsating away to bewilderment. After a little more of the same conversation, the path widened enough for me to run ahead and find my own space.
By 09:00 Red and I were motoring well, reaching CP1 (6.6 miles). Scoffed a piece of cake, and was soon out onwards to the next check point. The plan was to eat a cereal bar every 30 minutes, and then eat something heavier at the “lunch time” check points. The LDWA events are known for having plenty of food, especially at lunch time check points.
The route description appeared easy to follow. This was a dangerous thought, for when fatigue crept in, concentration can go. Soon our route diversion began and I don’t think the group of us really listened to the instructions from the marshals.
Marshal: Turn right at the green bridge
I was distracted by a Welsh runner donating 50 pence, and then a passerby throwing £2 into the bucket. I had forgotten what was said and foolishly assumed that the four others ahead of me would get it right. They turned left and so did I. The route description no longer made sense, until another passerby corrected us. (phew).
Pfaffing cost @ 10 minutes.
My mind and body were wrestling, and the hills were now biting hard into the quads. I spaced out briefly.
I allowed my mind to be distracted with food illusions and found myself wandering back and forth in a woodland, trying to make sense of the route description. I was now lost. I asked a family where we were. They had no clue and I began to feel a sense of hopelessness. I’d have to call the organizers but they too would probably not know where I was, if I could not say where I was! I wandered around further and found a “godsend” sign post pointing me towards Stoke Row, the next checkpoint. I had been going in the opposite direction. Admittedly I was a little fed up, but really just needed another feed.
Pfaffing cost @ 1 hour
It was 16:15 when I departed, watched by the marshals peering out the village hall windows, shaking their heads as Red pulled away. My head was now in a better place, so my body felt better as we ran into the distance.
About mile 27, I did not see the stile and carried on up a hill. Again the route description was not making sense. I began to think about a DNF. It was so easy to do. I’d already DNFed once this year. No big deal to fail on another, or would that just be failure after failure.
Fortunately in the woodlands, there was a house and a resident for me to enquire and thus had to retrace my steps back down the hill to find a stile and Michael!
Pfaffing cost @ 15 minutes
17:55: CP5 (31.2 miles). By this point we had caught up with a couple.
Michael: Well I would like to continue, if you all (the couple and me) want to continue
Marshal: This will be at your own risk. So if you fall over and break a leg.....we are not responsible
Michael: If we stick as a group, we’ll be fine
The couple were not going to continue. Everyone looked at me to confirm my intentions. It would be so easy to return with the couple, but no way was I going to let Michael and Red down! It was just under 9 miles to go even if there would be nothing for us at the end. No food, no welcoming committee, just a dark hall and the mere satisfaction of completing the event. This was now personal.
TG: Well we just need to food to keep us going.
Marshal: So happy to hear that. We have got loads! Here take what you need but remember you are on your own.
Armed with marmite and cheese sarnies in our pockets, ALLONS-Y, we went steaming ahead. 1 mile completed in 10 minutes. Michael and I looked at each other, perhaps the route description was a little generous, or we were really moving much faster than when we had first met. We were utilizing each other’s energy and fast walked together as if we were old friends, and ran down hills as if we were kids. It was great to have a buddy to check the route description.
18:45: CP6 (34.9 miles). The check point marshals were just completing their pack up when we arrived. They were beaming because they could off load more food unto us and we were beaming back from hill racing adrenalin. We were packed us off with more food and a tin of rice pudding and fruit cocktail for Michael.
20:23: End (40 miles). There were still walkers who had only arrived about 10-15 minutes before us. The organization had only begun packing up. We had made it and we were elated.
Red’s official time: 13 hours 23 minutes.
Thank you to the fantastic organisation and to the folks who donated. Your funds will be going to EarthWatch. AND, Michael it was a real luxury having you as a buddy! :-)
Next event 26th May