|Raring to go!|
|All present and correct|
|Happy on Day 1|
|Trail runners heaven|
John had got ready and left and I put on my long sleeve top and head torch in preparation for the night ahead. I left Patterdale and we were to head up to Kidsty Pike which was a good couple of hours. Kirkby Stephen was about 36 miles away so it would take me till morning to reach there. This is a cracking section, up past Boredale Hause, Angle Tarn and through to Kidsty Pike. I hiked the majority and ran where I could, we were well over 50 miles in and it was really dark and chilly before I reached the Pike. I had put the map away and was using GPS now. Had I been camping more and moving slower with a clear head I would have tried to nav by map alone but given I was aiming for the fastest time possible I opted for GPS especially during the night. As I headed down to Haweswater my eyes started flickering and the sleep demons were coming on. The previous days mountain running had taken its toll and I was nodding off on my feet. Lack of sleep certainly is a weakness of mine, if you want to do well in a non stop multi day event you have to cope well with no sleep and I don't! I'd made a last minute decision to wear Hokas as it had been so dry which I was happy with but as I bumbled along Haweswaters rocky edge I was tripping and stumbling. I took a Pro Plus as I couldn't shake off the the flickering eyelids. As the trail improved the caffeine kicked in and I felt slightly better, enough so to run with out the fear of falling over. As we reached the end of the water I was passed by two runners. My tiredness had cost me already. I left the road and came across a metal container full of drinks and an honesty box. Very nice, I thought as I choose a drink and choccy bar my head torch shining in the box. As I did a car passed by then quickly spun round and screeched to a stop next to me. "What the hell are you doing!" was shouted at me. I looked up and two massive geezers were sitting in their car looking ready to stove my head in. After a quick explanation the air was cleared and I was able to move on enjoying my can of coke.
I made my way onto Shap, the tiredness had subsided for now and I was able to run. I was getting really frustrated with my bottles, I was worrying that one of my soft flasks was going to fall out of the side pocket of my pack. This minor issue was stressing me out so I decided to put a full bottle in the main part of my pack then I could access it in an emergency. I ran into Shap, it was 2am. There was unmanned drink station located there which I thought would be closed so I pressed on into the night, only later did I find out it had been fully stocked with drinks and sandwiches, Doh! I ran up Shaps main street and soon veered off onto moorland and open fields. It was very dark and the terrain was up and down. I realized one of my bottles was almost empty so reached for my spare bottle, Shit, it had gone! I must have dropped it earlier while fiddling with my pack. I had 300 mls and 18 miles to Kirkby Stephen, this was never going to last. After the previous red hot day I was thirsty and needed to find water fast but as the miles ticked by I realized there was nothing, no streams, no tarns, nothing. I was still running ok but was seriously dehydrated, my mouth was almost stuck shut. I was in daylight now and spotted a tarn ahead and ran towards it with visions of gulping down loads of fresh water. It was not to be though there was a massive barbed wire fence between me and the water. In my shaky state the fence as an obstacle too far. Shortly after as cracks felt like they were appearing in my throat I found a puddle. Admittedly there was sheep shit in the puddle but it was wet so I popped out my Sawyer Straw and drank from the puddle, needs must. Thankfully it was enough to see me through until I found a nice flowing stream and managed to fill my bottles. I lost a few places through this tough stage but it didn't matter I was running my own race and this is all I could do.
I got in to Kirkby Stephen mid morning roughly 24 hours in and bang on my schedule. My plan now was to grab a few hours kip before cracking on. I ate and drank and headed for one of the tents. As I lay in the hot tent every sound was magnified, the light shone through my closed eyelids and my heart was pumping. I was never going to sleep. I laid there for a further 20 minutes before trudging back indoors for some more food and a mental re-plan. It was 10am and the next section to Richmond was 37 mile or so, I decided I could continue through all day and reach Richmond by nightfall then I could sleep. My mind was made up and after greasing my feet I headed out of the feed station. Soon after leaving I was rising back up again, it was a steady hike up to Nine Standards Rigg, it was gorgeous at the top I would have been quite happy to stop a while and look around but no it was time to push on. After some cracking trail running on the high ground it was time to descend again. I was running well and my quads were holding up. I had a really sore shin on my right leg from the hard descents of day one but this although very painful was a minor issue. The run across Malbecks Moor was lovely but my eyelids were flickering again, the lack of sleep was really taking its toll. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and every so often I would lay on the soft grass for a 5 minute power nap. They can be quite effective and gave me the strength to get through. I was about 20 mile in to this stage and roughly 30 hours without sleep. Just prior to Reeth there was some great technical trail and I was loving the scrambling, I climbed to the top of what seemed like a disused quarry and found a well made path heading down, I was hallucinating really heavily now. I have learnt to embrace hallucinations and they don't phase me, they just make life tricky especially when my eyelids are so heavy. I ran into the village and in my tired state I had it in my head that this was Richmond and I was really boosted by the prospect of sleep and rest. I chatted to a random guy who had been following the tracker and waiting ages to see a runner. He soon informed me this was Reeth not Richmond and my heart sank. There was still another 11 miles to go. I walked into the local shop, sweaty, stinking and incoherent but the shop keeper didn't bat an eyelid as I stocked up on water and chocolate. I trudged through the village eating my chocolate trying to get motivated for the next 11 miles. This was a tough moment in the race, we were around the 100 mile mark 33 hours in and roughly halfway, my feet hurt, I was tired, my shin was killing me, I'd had enough.
The route to Richmond was actually very nice, lots of grassy fields and woodland but not too many hills. I perked up as I ran two thirds of every field and walked one third. The miles ticked by as I dreamt of the lovely sleep I was due to have. I could see Richmond in the distance and everything in the world seemed great again. I was quite high up looking down at the village and it was roughly 9pm, I thought I'd walk down into town but even this seemed to go on for ever. I circled the town centre before doubling back on myself and eventually finding the rugby club, this all felt counter intuitive and I still swear I did an unnecessary lap of the town. Eventually I jogged into the feed station just as it started to rain.
I sat down with a massive sigh of relief, I could rest! I took my shoes off and started to eat some chicken stew. There were two other runners in there preparing to go out. They were discussing the night ahead, preparing their maps, they looked so un flustered and I felt so shit. I couldn't comprehend heading straight back out. I grabbed my kit and limped over to my tent in the now heavy rain. I jumped into my sleeping bag and set the alarm for 3 hours. In what felt like seconds I was gone and a few seconds later the 3 hours had passed and my alarm was bleeping. It was still raining and about 1 am. I donned my headtorch and sorted my kit in the cramped tent. My feet were noticeably swollen and I struggled to get my shoes back on. After 20mins or so I walked back over to the main feed station. I ate some porridge, a fried egg sarnie and a couple of teas, there were two others in here now one guy had just walked in and another was prepping to go back out, although he didn't look too keen. I was mentally preparing for the next stage breaking down the mileage etc. I was told at this point there would be no sleeping at the next aid station, a storm had hit and they were unable to set up the tents. In real terms this meant I had 45 miles to the next feed station, before entering straight into the last 30 mile on no rest. Ok keep calm I'm going to leave here at 2am, walk for 2 hours until daybreak, I should be at the feed station by 3pm, an hours stop then an 11hour 30 miler for a 3 am finish. Simple.
I left at 2am as planned, the rain had stopped and I power hiked into the darkness. My legs were stiff but I soon shook it off and the swelling in my feet subsided. I broke into a run as the first particles of light guided my way. I passed Catterick race course through grassy flat fields. The water on the grass was rolling down my legs and quite quickly my feet were soaked through. This was going to be a hindrance later on. I entered a secluded lane and walked towards a car with full beam bearing on me. This felt weird in my tired state and I half expected the engine to roar before the driver attempt to mow me down. I walked the couple of hundred metres to the car and as I walked along side the window was open. My eyes adjusted to the driver. "What ya doing?" he asked in a gruff voice. "Running the Coast to Coast" I replied. "Sure you are, it's four in the fucking morning". "I Know". "Well you better have some chocolate, keep your spirits up" he said as he cracked me off a few squares of his Aero. He pulled away laughing and shaking his head. A quite surreal experience that I'm positive actually happened. The lanes and fields continued for miles and I had several variants of running on the go, varying from actually running to power hiking to the ultra hobble. I felt happy at this point and was confident about the miles ahead. Through the ever over grown fields I eventually reached the A19. I knew there was a garage there and bought food, a sandwich, coffee, chocolate and maltloaf. I gulped down the coffee and stuffed in the sandwich before running the gauntlet across the now very busy dual carriageway. I walked up the lane eating my maltloaf and my thoughts were on my feet which were now soaked through and badly macerated. The pain was searing up my legs and by my reckoning I was at mile 150, it was about 1pm. 40 miles to go. I was hoping my feet might dry out a bit with a fresh pair of socks. Little did I know what lay ahead.
|OMG I felt rough|
|Just 30 to go.|
|30 Miles!! FFS!!|
|Do I have to move?|
|Macerated foot. That is pain right there.|