Last night it took me a minute to climb the stairs by dragging myself up by the handrail. My muscles in my legs had been so abused that they completely went on strike and it was a mission to stand – let alone walk. My toes were covered in blisters and my ankles looked like I’d jumped off a double decker bus. It was 24 hours after we had triumphantly hobbled across the finish line of the 103-mile “Rampant Run” to Norfolk.
To put this in context ultramarathons are nothing new. Across the pond our cousins partake in them all the time and so we are not claiming any amazing feat of human endeavor here. Nor did we break any records with regards to time. 26 hours and 12 minutes would be laughed at in many athletic circles for such a distance.
The reason I am quite proud of this weekend’s work is that these six people didn’t really know each other and none of us had ever run such a distance before. We just came together with a somewhat perverted shared desire just to give it a shot. My furthest ever run before was 11 miles (and in the preceding months far less as I’d been injured) so this was more about camaraderie and grit rather than any peak athletic prowess.
Cho, my assistant for two years in the Amazon, managed a brave 34 miles before having to hitch a ride in the support vehicle after his knee gave out. Rich, who I play rugby with, was mortified to have to withdraw at 71 miles after his stomach refusing to properly digest his food and him being constantly sick. Charlotte, Benno, Jim and I made it to the end together and dragged each other kicking and screaming through the last few miles where our bodies were quite rightly demanding that we stopped. Jim had collapsed three hours before the end – his knee completely buckling from the side leaving him with vast bruising up his whole leg – and yet he hobbled the last dozen miles without one word of complaint. Inspiring determination.
The welcome in Norfolk by all the guys who had just finished the Century Cycle Challenge (that had taken the same route as we had from Leicestershire – but on bikes) was beyond what we had expected and it topped off one of the most memorable 26 hours of my life. Of course I didn’t enjoy it all – some of it was plain horrid – but nothing quite beats the sensation of committing to something against the odds and then just deciding to be stubborn enough to see it through to the end.
Thanks to everyone who donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust via text or through the Virgin Money Giving site. Thanks for all the support at the end and those who stopped to offer us food and water along the way. Thanks to all our sponsors for their assistance in getting the event of the ground.
Most of all – thanks to Charlotte, Benno, Jim, Rich and Cho for being fantastic company for a fairly gruellling, but very rewarding, 26 hours.