Posted: 17/05/2014 at 01:10
(no idea what happened to the formatting in last post)
Thanks to not having changed the time on my phone, my alarm woke me at 1:30 so there I was sitting the worst prepared for any race had ever been, wondering what the hell I was doing.
We arrived at the start with plenty of time which was in hindsight a bad idea, it was blowing a hooley and freezing cold. We had a couple of hours to kill and it really was cold with people huddled in any available shelter desperately trying to stay warm. Everyone was putting on every single thing that they could find in their drop bag to stay warm. We ended up taking shelter in a spiky bush which was actually welcome relief from the wind.
A couple of nervous hours passed as we joked and tried to make light of the situation. Eventually someone noticed that we were now alone and the refugee camp had disappeared.
As we headed to the start line we were looking forward to actually warming up.
The start of the race was carnage and I have to admit that I hated the first couple of hours, not because of the steep sandy incline but rather the crowds and sitting in a big dust cloud. It wasn't until it started getting light and the crowds started easing a little around me that I started to appreciate the draw of the event. As I looked back towards the start, I could see that we were now above the clouds and it was a very special feeling.
For a while I really started to enjoy the race and as I hadn't been running for several weeks, it was fantastic to be able to enjoy running in such fantastic surroundings. My enjoyment continued for several hours and I didn't care about my time or my position... I was just happy to be running and hiking whilst looking around at the scenery.
Eventually my bubble burst and my lack of preparation caught up with me.
The downhill section is tough, really tough! You spend so long climbing and looking forward to the downhill section only to find that when it arrives, the climbs weren't actually that bad after all. My trainers were the worst choice ever (not really a choice) and on the long decent they really started to hamper me. After a while, every single footstrike was agony. To be honest, I have never known so much pain in an ultra but I carried on gingerly towards my medal.