Monday, 21 June 2010

Kate runs a long way

After 70 miles of running Kate shuffled over to the marshals at the checkpoint at Glencoe Ski Area and surrendered her WHW race number, just too broken to contemplate the remaining 25 miles to Fort William. A difficult decision for Kate, but the right thing to do given how much she was hurting. But, what a fucking trooper to have got to mile 70! And, as part of Kate's race crew I feel incredibly proud of "my runner."

I'm sure Kate's blog will give her account of the brutal hours of running, shuffling, walking, and just how much lucozade she had to drink. But, from the perspective of crewing, I had a blast. It's a long read, but this is it from my side............

The race starts in Milngavie, where Kate, Jane and I arrived on Thursday. A nice meal out, I'll mention here that Jane had a steak as this was the start of a food theme for her, a few beers for crew (lemonade for racers), and an earlyish night to try and get some sleep in the bank ahead of the long stretch of being awake. Friday, we all slept in a bit, breakfast in an incredibly hot cafe, (lorne sausage, black pudding and bacon). A trip in to Glasgow for an outdoor shop and a running shop, the racer deciding that the hat she's been wearing for the last few years is suddenly unsuitable and she isn't happy with the socks she's packed, so will try something new just before the longest race she's ever attempted.

Back to Milngavie. A surreal Italian restaurant for a substantial pre-race feed (Italian sausage). A bit of sleep in the afternoon, some kit checking and we're all at the pre-race briefing for just before 0100. Jane and I leave Kate and walk through town so we can see Kate run past just after the start. Random pissed people enjoying the last bit of their Friday night out seeming puzzled by what's going on, why are so many lycra glad people wearing head torches running up the High Street? Back to the Premier Inn for Jane and I. We deal with some more random pissed people and the strange night porter, a very strong cup of coffee, then we pack the car and prepare for a minimum of 24 hours of togetherness and no sleep.

We next see Kate at Drymen, she's 13 miles in, looking good, a quick bag swap and she's away again. We drive on to Balmaha, get Kate's next bag ready and try to grab a nap in the car. No sleep for me due to the presence of a squawking woman crewing for another racer, I get grumpy and tell Jane I'm going to have to take a deadly spork to the situation, lack of sleep bringing out the assassin in me. Kate comes through only a bit behind schedule, she's at mile 20 still looking good, we swap her bag and send her on her way with one of her pre-made marmite sandwiches. Before we get to the next checkpoint we've been 'phoned to say please throw all the sandwiches away, they're disgusting!

Rowardennan has me running round in gloves and a midge net in a state because the midges are in the net with me. Kate arrives slightly behind schedule but not too bad, she's done a marathon by now, she's still looking good, she has some muesli and she's away again. Crewing duties going smoothly.

Beinglass and we manage to get a good bit of sleep in the car. The carpark voucher system somehow ends up with a compulsory purchase of a bacon roll, I suggest to Jane we keep it in case Kate fancies a bite, Jane more concerned about her own depleting protein levels has it instead, we've made Kate a pot noodle! Kate comes through, she's at 41 "where's my fucking water" miles now, off pace now for a 24hr finish, but still looking fairly good.

On to Auchentyre, we try for another car-nap to have Kate ring and disturb it to tell us she's feeling really good and thinks she can make up the time for a 24hr finish, that's nice we say, we'll see you in a bit! Kate arrives, this is the 50 mile mark, she gets weighed at this check point, well within the safety margins and she's away again. Our crewing is still going smoothly.

Tyndrum and the Real Food Cafe with it's burgers was just too hard to resist. A long wait for food and the fact that somebody decided to pick this point in their race to start running quite quickly, meant we missed our racer completely. Jane has to dash off up the trail after Kate and do a kit swap on the fly. 53 miles completed.

Next stop Bridge of Orchy where Kate told us all about her black poo. She's at mile 60 now and starting to look a bit tired. I step in as sherpa and nearly take Kate off the race route completely, somebody points out we're about to go the wrong way and we jog and walk the 2 miles over to Inveroran. Jane took over here as sherpa and I head off in the car.

I get to Glencoe Ski Area and wait. At about when I expect the other two in I potter off down the trail, no sign of them, back to the car for a bit, then another potter down the trail, still no sign. I'm starting to get a bit worried, I check the spreadsheet again, they're a fair bit overdue, I wait a bit and then go for another potter down the trail. My phone rings, with the news that Kate isn't feeling very good at all. I soon see them coming towards me and it's obvious Kate is in a bad way. Despite my procurement of a power-potato and my lovingly prepared baby-bel surprises Kate just couldn't go on. It's the end of her race, 70 miles in.

An almost spew inducing drive into Fort William to a hotel with a hint of private prison about it. The good new is we're checked in, the bad news is the room is on the third floor and there's no lift, tears for Kate. Pizza in the room with unexpected sauasagey protein on the vegetarian one. The inevitable post race dissection begins. Ultimately knowing that it's all down to how many miles you've got in your legs, you can wing it up to 70 miles apparently but beyond that really does need training!

A seriously deep sleep, another dose of meaty goodness is served up at breakfast and the decision made to head home. The car journey full of race dissection and talk of other races. Hi-jinks after stopping to admire the view and leaving Kate by the roadside. The Big Lebowski sountrack. Tyndrum for the Real Food Cafe, (another burger) and a bottle of singlemalt from the Green Welly. Disappointing iced coffees at random service station Costa. Tebay services for just another burger. And finally, for me home to scones baked by Glyn. I wave the other two off to finish their drive south.

It's been a fantastic few days. Inspiring, and terrifying to see what people will put themselves through. I've told Kate if she feels there's unfinished business up in Scotland, I'd crew for her again anytime.


Julbags said...

Aww Kate but what an effort "wing it up to 70 miles", lol. Great crewing by yourself and Jane.

I did wonder how it was going as I cycled past the Glengoyne distillery yesterday, I could see the WHW at that point.

Simon said...

Excellent write up. 70 miles is a pretty impressive achievement, nothing for Kate to be disappointed with there!

Jane said...

I had forgotten loads of that stuff already. When you started getting angry at the squawky woman at Balmaha I was really worried that I was about to discover that sleep deprivation made you violently mental.

I have had no meat today, and have been enjoying not trying to sleep in a car.

Now for the Saunders spreadsheet!

trio said...

Sounds an interesting experience! I like the thought of Jane running up the trail after Kate!

Pedalling Polarcherry said...

great write up especially looking away from the runners view point which no doubt will be modest.

personally I think kate is awesome. Massive respect for her as a person and amazed at 70miles running full stop!

just shows what you can do with 2 brilliant friends supporting you. Great job all 3 of you.

ps. marmite?! yark.... lemoncurd is what you wanted.

Julbags said...

Lemoncurd, much as I love it but yark when running. Peanut butter and raspberry jam is where it's at.

kate said...

i've re-read this several times and each time it makes me laugh. although i think i was much more polite when i asked for some water.

you (and jane) made it a top weekend. being driven around the highlands has never been so much fun. many, many, many thanks. i owe you big time.

Pink Orange 5 said...

Mmm slepp deprivation makes me want to attack people so you aren't on your own ;-)
Good effort by all I think

lesleyh said...

Great crewing effort. See you all up there for the unfinished business....