Before the race, and as a group, we planned ahead and tried to account for any risk which might occur. We covered spare trainers and socks, tape and plasters for blisters, appropriate clothing for weather fluctuations, food supplies and what we could eat and run on, hydration, taking it easy on day 1 so that day 2 wasn’t too painful etc. We knew what to pack, which turned out to be quite a lot of stuff for a couple of days away, but we were confident that we’d done all the preparation and training that we could.
The night we arrived in Carlisle, Lee and Elliot had driven up in the truck and were waiting for us when we got there. They camped, and we stayed in the Castle dorm which had really creaky bunkbeds. It wasn’t as noisy as it could have been – everyone went to bed at 10 and were really polite and considerate. Even still there were the occasional noises to keep us awake. Michelle and Louise were facebooking each other until about 11pm giggling in their sleeping bags as people woke themselves up snoring.
Everyone was pretty friendly, and we got chatting to a South African guy, who was doing the race in a day a.k.a. an Expert – he thought we were nuts to do the race in two days. Now they tell us! Next time we might consider a one-dayer.
On the Saturday morning, we saw Lee off at 7am in his buns of steel, and went to get some breakfast before our start at 8am. Met a guy called Martin at breakfast who is supporting Ian Rennie Hospice in memory of his Mum, and we invited him to run with us.
I don’t think we were really nervous at the start – it’s funny how you’re more nervous for a 30 min race than you are for one that is going to take two days. Elliot was there to see us off as well, and offered some great directions: we should turn left out of the Castle, and we’re on our own from there. Thanks Elliot! Ha ha ha!
We loved all the messages of support on Facebook, and I took a call from Laura which was lovely. Thank you Laura – you should come with us next time!
The weather was very changeable and we kept having to take our waterproof coats on and off, which gets quite annoying when you are carrying all your supplies in a rucksack. Having said that, we saw some sun as well as a bit of rain, which was much better than the forecast.
I’m still not sure about the food choices that were on offer at the pit stops. There were sandwiches (like you’d buy in Tesco’s express), jelly beans, chocolate raisins and chocolate nuts and gummy bears, crisps, high 5 drinks, flapjacks and rocky road tray bake. (Any experienced people out there with any insight?) OK the flapjack and maybe the chocolate nuts are good, but none of the rest of it is low GI, which is what I would opt for given the choice. I filled up on sandwiches and flapjacks and high 5 at every stop, and I’m glad I figured out what I can eat and run on too. We also had to figure out just the right amount of fluids, which is not that easy. Too much and we’d be uncomfortable and looking for bushy hideouts every five minutes, and too little would slow us to a painful shuffle/walk.
A new mid-run discovery was the tea and coffee – a little caffeine fix works wonders. Andy already picked this little gem up from Lee during the Southend half and had come prepared with a flask! Nice work.
The first stage on the first day was 15 miles, and the second stage was 17 miles. There were lots of hills in second stage – our plan was to walk up them and run down them, which worked well. We all finished day 1 pretty much together and were ready for our next overnight experience camping.
At the campsite, they gave us soup and sandwiches, and we could buy more food later if we wanted to. I bought one pasta meal, which wasn’t that big, so I had another one for tea. By the way SIS strawberry REGO is disgusting. Sorry SIS, but ….. ick!
Thinking back, we made really good decisions along the way, and good pacing for day 1, which meant we had no real injuries and weren’t too stiff in the morning. In fact, we all agreed that the morning after Milton Keynes marathon was much worse. I knew my toe was rubbing and would probably get a blister the following day – nothing major. We plastered up any minor areas of chafing. Louise had massage for a glutes issue, and we were hoping it wouldn’t cause her too much grief on day 2. The Physio had a really good elbow apparently….
Our new friend Martin came in after us as he hadn’t done as much training and couldn’t keep with the pace. He had injured his knee and was told to walk day 2, which he was a bit disappointed about, but he was sticking with it – determined to finish.
At this point, I think I need to have a little rant. What the hell is going on with pop-up tents? When you buy a tent, you expect it to be at least shower proof, right? Plenty of people had opted for a cheap-ish pop-up tent, and ended up getting soaked because they simply weren’t made to keep the inside dry – there were holes in the seams at the top of the tents! Clearly this then meant that the skip at the campsite soon filled up with these incredible disposable tents, which had been used once, and then discarded either because they leaked, or because they are impossible to put away again – or both. I’m officially not impressed with the pop-up tent scam. I might even write a letter….. </rant>
Lee finished his race at about 1.30 am on the Sunday morning, but found time to update people in the last few miles. He called us 5 miles from the end and let us know about a little hillock that we would be facing the next morning: “You’ll like the first ‘little’ hill you’ve got in the morning, but don’t worry – it has foot holes!” Thanks, we’ll sleep well now.
This was the hill. We followed the lemmings until about half way up and then made a nice LW dash straight up to the top. Much more fun that way!
The course overall was well marked most of the way, although in the dark it might not have been so obvious. There were some nice short trails and some boring cycle paths. I liked the river crossing – straight through that one – obviously. Other people were pointlessly keeping their feet dry – I’m sure the rain got them soaked later anyway.
Then we got to a little place called Newborough. Not sure what was going on here – they appeared to be having some kind of scarecrow competition. Loved it. Well it kept me amused for a few miles. Have a look at these!
I have to say, that the Rat Race staff were really friendly and helpful. They were really energetic, enthusiastic and would do anything to help. At Newburn I think nearly every runner got a hug from Sonny! Newburn was 62 miles in and there were lots of emotional people turning up. They got a hug from Sonny, and then the lady medic asked them if they needed anything, and quite a few people were welling up. I overheard the medic saying a few times “I won’t be too nice to you…”
There were many blisters being treated in the tent there, and people offering each other plasters and pain killers. Only 7 miles to go from this pit stop.
Michelle, Andy, Louise and I stayed together for the final 7 miles and all of our feet were pretty sore – 9 hours on your feet is not something we’re really used to. Thanks to everyone for all the facebook messages at this point – they were really appreciated. And to Heidi Holman for confirming that Andy’s mouth still worked!
The final few miles seemed to take a long time, and the Tyne bridges were a welcome sight as we walked along the quayside. Michelle said: “I only hurt from here downwards, the rest of me is fine.”
We had to jog / walk past our hotel which was a bit of a cruel twist.
Then as we jogged over the bridge – we had a bit of an emotional moment when Louise’s nephew came over the tannoy – “Auntie Wees!” (as she’s now known) It was really good to finish, but very difficult to carry all the bags back to the hotel 3/4 mile away. (Felt like another 2 mile hike)
Thanks to Louise’s family for carrying some of the bags.
Andy found the pool at the hotel and I enjoyed a quick steam sauna / cold shower combo at the hotel before devouring steak chips and veg in our slippers in the bar. I may have been a bit short with the staff when a tiny weeny portion of veg showed up on the side of my plate. My immediate reaction was “That’s not a side order of veg!” He didn’t blink or argue with me – he just got another portion. Probably a wise response.
As we saw some more people go past the hotel as they were coming to the finish, we hobbled to the door to cheer them on. We must have looked quite funny trying to move quickly in our slippers. (There was no way we were putting those trainers back on)
Our friend Martin was apparently stopped at Newburn. Hopefully he still sees 62 miles as the amazing achievement that it is for the charity that took such good care of his late Mum.
69 miles done. One blister that could have been prevented if I’d thought about it. I’m happy with that. If you haven’t sponsored us, it’s not too late! A great cause with some amazing people. http://www.justgiving.com/2ladiesandawall