I honestly want to say never again. I think I probably did say never again. And I told my mate Pat where he could go if he ever needed a stand in for an event such as the High Peak Marathon. But you know me, it's almost certain that it won't be my last Ultra. Yes the pain is bad and I ache but in the words of the great philosopher, Arnold of Schwarzenegger, I'll be back.
Anyway, let's start at the beginning - usually a sound place to start something. I was a late recruit to team MDC consisting Dan B, John S and Pat W, for the High Peak Marathon. They needed a forth - I was it - doh.
So, I couldn't get off work Friday and had an afternoon drive with John and Pat to Edale. We got through the traffic on the M5 and M6 rather smartly for a Friday rush hour - bargain. After a stop off for tucker we arrived at Edale and met up with Dan. We got through registration and kit check in short order before getting an hour's doze but before we knew it, our start time of eleven thirty was up and team MDC, number 40 was off.
The first few miles were pretty good. Nice firm going and the night sky was clear. It was a pleasant night on which to run - at least at the start. We over took a goodly number of teams in those first miles before the terrain became more rugged. I was rear gunner for the squad - on account of the fact I was the weakest link in this particular equation. But they put up with me and I think we made good time really.
If I'm honest, after the first few miles I now have a hard time discerning the different sections of the route so I'll tell it how I think it should be told. Suffice to say I do remember that there was a) peat and b) more frickin' peat, oh yeah, and did I mention peat, there was some of that too. Bloody unending miles of peat bog. Ok, so that's not accurate but feck did it ever go on. On and bloody on.
It sapped my strength. It sapped my energy. Damn near sapped my will to live - that came later on the long section through an expanse of peat erosion. Up ten feet, down ten feet, up ten... you get the picture. Finally, free of all that shit - known in the Peak District as peat - we were greeted by miles of flag stones and rough ground on the Pennine way. At least I think that's what was next up, my memory of the whole squalid affair is somewhat hazy. Next up came the rocky section - I think?
By now my feet were bloody killing. Going down - sssh, no, stop it - was most painful of all.
Thankfully, through it all, my team mates put up with interminable slowness. Then I think there was some tussocks? A bit of ballsing on the navigation front - but I'll not complain about that because on the whole the lads did a fantastic job of manoeuvring us around the course. Now drizzling - but at least that saved itself for the sections in daylight, when it would blur the vision through my glasses - yeah, cheers for that. Then there was a bit more peat, some mud? I'm arsed if I can really remember. By that point I wasn't really even thinking straight.
Well anyway, in the end we made it home inside the team MDC self imposed target of eleven hours. Indeed, for much of the race we were on target for close to ten. But with about six or seven miles to go I had a bit of tummy trouble - nothing nasty, cept' for the nasty green poison gas clouds I was polluting the fresh country air with - and I felt a little sick. I kept that to myself - not the wind turbulence, I think they could smell that. How did we get on to this little topic of delight? In hindsight, I probably should have shared with the group - and not just the gas. I had to stop fueling - aka, eating - for fear of being sick. That depleted me and the sands began to drain from the timer. I - and hence the team - were reduced to a full on walk. I felt bad but I just couldn't run.
Then, with about two and a half to three miles to go, I got a rage inside. I felt so angry it was all slipping away. That we'd fall outside 11 hours because of me. I channelled the anger. I hate failure and I started to run... and from there I pretty much didn't stop until it was over. I don't know where it came from but without it wouldn't have made the grade.
We came home in around 10 hours and 47 minutes.
As reward - for you do get a reward after such exploits - you get the gift of the inability to walk...
At the moment there is pain, such unbearable pain but I'm betting by tomorrow it will seem like the best weekend ever - maybe not, but I bet I'll be thinking back to the events of Friday and Saturday with a smile. Thanks chaps, for giving me a go.
The High Peak Marathon is a four man team, starting at night covering 42 miles - if you get the route perfect - and 9,000 feet of ascent - if you get the route perfect.