If you haven’t read part one yet, you might want to go back and do that now. But hey, I’m not here to tell you what to do. If you’re one of those renegade play-by-your-own-rules types, read on anyway…
Act 5: Lap three (the gloop)
I woke at dawn, and immediately felt ashamed that I’d enjoyed such a blissful sleep while my team-mates were out their enduring mile after soggy mile. I climbed out of my tent to be greeted by a scene of utter devastation:
Anneke was up and about, and as I desperately searched for some coffee she slapped on her team’s baton and headed out into the fray. I idly wondered who was out there from my own team, but then my eyes settled on a flash of orange on one of the gazebo supports. Our baton.
Were my poor legs up to one last lap? There was only one way to find out.
Before I had a chance to question my judgement (or just shout at myself for being a bloody idiot) I’d made my way back to the start line and was heading out for my third and (spoiler alert!) final lap of TR24 2013. I’d opted for my Adidas Kanadia trail shoes, which was something of a chore as I’d always found them a bit pinchy and uncomfortable to run in. I was soon glad of the decision though, as the terrain switched from slick greasy grass to shoe-sucking porridge several times over in the first mile alone. I continued on, praying that the Clif double-espresso gel in my belly would kick in and provide enough of a boost to carry me through once the initial “I’m actually doing this” euphoria of this lap wore off and the pain set in.
It was about 5am, and daylight still hadn’t kicked in properly. That, combined with hundreds of potentially ankle-buggering tree roots partially hidden under soft yielding mud meant that the course was an absolute level 9 bastard. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for those who ran it through the night, in the impenetrable darkness and the hammering rain. If any of you did run in those conditions, and can describe it to me without using the words “Nyaaaaargh” or “I want my mummy” I’ll buy you a twix. One person I spoke to said that visibility was so bad, even with a head torch, that they could barely see whatever was six inches in front of their face. Knowing my luck, that’d be a rapidly approaching tree.
As I plodded on, my complete lack of recent hillwork was painfully apparent, and I found myself uttering a my new mantra “oh, for f***s sake” whenever a new incline came into view. Surprisingly though, my almost-complete lack of all other running didn’t seem to have impacted as much, and I felt pretty much the same as I had last year, despite doing just one-fifth of the weekly training mileage in preparation. This told me one of two things:
1. I have an excellent base level of fitness.
2. I got lucky
Okay, it’s 2, obviously. Or possibly
3. Weird alien/hobbit genes
Despite the early hour and the miserable weather, the crowd support was nothing short of phenomenal, and I high-fived my way towards the finish line feeling like a sweaty little rock star.
Act 6: Tea and medals (and cake)
The rest of the morning was spent in a relaxed fashion, putting the world to rights and cheering the runners through their final laps. Talk in the camp turned to the rain-soaked ordeal of the night before…
Stuart: “I had endorphins rushing round me”
Kesh: “By that point I had dolphins rushing round me”
Stuart: “We were relentless though, weren’t we? I mean, up until the point where we relented”
Rob was the last runner from our team, and after he crossed the line we all collected our medals (disappointingly still not made of chocolate) before climbing onto the Adidas podium for a team photo. Well, most of us climbed onto the Adidas podium for a team photo. I wandered off like a child at an all-you-can-stroke bunny zoo and missed it. See?
But thanks to the magic of photoshop (and a few oddballs with far too much time on their hands) it turns out I was there all along…
Soon after, Camp Shibby was reduced to a few cars loaded with camping gear, while a dozen hardy souls sat around eating the world’s best coffee cake (using torn up pieces of cardboard for plates, just like Bear Grylls would).
DOMS came and went in a couple of days, which tells me that next year I should aim for at least 50 laps. All that remains is to thank my family (for putting up with me going on these silly little adventures), my awesome team mates, the organisers for doing a top job as usual, and every single runner and spectator who made this an amazing weekend. Cheers folks, see you next year.
Hey nice readers, a gentle reminder that you can follow me on the twitter(@borntoplodblog) or on my Facebook page. Other contact details are in the contacts section above, surprisingly enough. It’d be ace to hear from you.