Monday, 3 December 2012

SaintElyon 2012

I love running! And I have to say I am so glad to have run this race, despite a number of factors that probably weren't in favour of its enjoyment factor. Stomach issues, possibly the wrong shoes and people are now saying that the conditions were the hardest they have had in recent years in terms of cold, icy (think: slippy−slidy) conditions − I must have fallen 6 or 7 times, with many more acrobatics to prevent others! The cold also affected hydration − on two separate sections of over 10k, I was without water, even though I could hear it sloshing in my pack, because my hydration tube froze! But there was a great atmosphere! Imagine the excitement as 12,000 head torches bob up and down at the start−line in preparation for the starter−horn, or miles of little lights snaking their way up a mountainside, it was impossible not to think of Lord of the Rings! The camaraderie was great too − after one of my falls (I think it was around half−way), I had instant cramp in both calfs and couldn't move. INSTANTLY, there were two other runners, one on each foot, helping me stretch. 
However, what made this mostly fun, was down to luck. It's true that I run marathons, but I have never set foot over the marathon distance, and certainly not on terrain or over a profile like this, so I naturally took it quite slowly to start off with. After a few miles we climbed up into the snow where it was just very difficult to pass other runners, so I was often forced just to retain my position. A lot of this journey is blurry to be honest, but at the 50k point there were more roads, and I felt strong for the next 10k. But then I finally fell victim of an over−inflated sense of ability, and decided to power it home for the last 10 km, including an absolute whopper of a hill. This plan fell to pieces with 4 km to go, and the enjoyment finally died! These were very long kilometres, but I finally made it. As I crossed the finish line, the emotions were really intense, and I collapsed into tears for several minutes. Tears of joy, a sense of achievement, but also at disbelief at just how far and long it had all been!
One of the things I had been worried about was gaining too little (or no!) support for Refugee Support Network because of my poor organisation in getting the word out! But support from people has been really good and I am so grateful. This was definitely a tough physical challenge, probably the hardest I have ever faced, but it shows how friends and family really are willing to get behind people who are up for that. This challenge is over for me, thank goodness, but the refugees' one is on−going. Thanks for the support.

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