Hello? Hello? Hello?
Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anybody at home?
It is always when one looks back that one realises, actually that was a bit mad. When I had to ask the stewards to take my bottles out and fill them with water and nutrition mix I probably should have asked myself the question was it wise to continue this 100km race only at that stage approx 35 km in. And I say approx because i only checked my watch for distance twice during the whole first marathon. Which I can tell you is not me whatsoever. My Brain had gone on holiday.
This was essentially a training run, but a race is a race and I was very lucky to be able to do such a race 10 minutes from home. The last Ultra I did was in Donegal, a 64km without one flat piece of road and made up of a lot of trail. So i was confident of putting in 10 – 11 hour 100km in Ballina last Saturday morning.
Storm Jorge, or Hor hey as it pronounced was mooted on Wednesday and by the weekend I actually did not care about what it was going to do. We had a vomiting bug in our house leading up to the race. I was a bit crampy and stuffed up but figured the day was long enough anyway.
So any issues I had would iron themselves out, It was super cold on the morning. I had prepared all my kit the day before. 3 complete changes of cloths, all my nutrition on me or in the boot of the car which was well parked and ready to go. I was as i thought at the time well prepared.
It was quite mild at the start, tripping down to Killala is hilly but enjoyable – and the vibe of these races are so friendly and easy going that folks are just chatting and enjoying the day. The wind was starting to pick up and on the second lap down to Killala as the marathoners and 50km runners were coming back towards me I could see the discomfort on their faces. With the wind on my back and against theirs I did have my first. This is no Bueno moment.
Then bam, the temp just seem to plummet, hail, wind with the worst wind chill I have ever experienced, snow and rain. The road was getting flooded in spots so my feet were getting wet and cold. I am not a cold cratur – I actually seek the cold out! But i had to turtle my hands into my skins top as my fingers and hands went numb.
I started to run a bit faster than i hoped against the wind just to try and keep my core temperature up. Salivating at the thoughts of warm dry gear in the boot of my car. The weather just got worse and worse and possibly I had some mild hyperthermia.
Once I had early completed the marathon, another 100km competitor had just completed 50kms when race director Cezary said that the race was now cancelled because of the weather. And rightly so, totally the right call. The thought never really crossed my mind to quit the distance though. With Marathon Des sables around the corner I wanted a good tough blast in the mind and body.
At this stage the remaining people on the course were soldiering towards the marathon finish line. I was at about 50kms. I met Sheila Masterson, she was in for the 100km and was doing so as her 200th marathon. In a world of influencers and the gram in general it was a pity that only those in the know could see her complete such as feat. For she is one of the most inspirational people I have had the pleasure of sharing a course with. Literally battling all the elements to complete 200 marathons. Not an insta story or feed in sight. Just a hard core amazing woman that we do not celebrate enough.
Hitting 50kms and heading for 60 kms I was now the only one left running. He 100km leader did the smart thing and pulled he pin. The race was over. On my Tod i just decided to keep going, mam and dad met me on the course and had a coffee and apple lattice slice for me ! The sugar and caffeine hit my system and I went on the gram and facebook professing that I was going to do the 100km on my own. It was a total rush to the head and 30 minutes later i really regretted it because with the cold and soaking, running fast to keep my core temp warm- I was now fucked.
Still I had done the first two parts of the course and it was now time to do the 28 laps of the greenway mile to complete the last marathon. My run buddy Aiden drove into Ballina to help me out. I was only at 62 kms and the realisation of what i had to do, what I should not have said online! And now the weather starting to deteriorate again – the wheels were starting to come off rapidly. Deals were made, and it was decided that 70 sounded better than 65 so Aiden literally dragged me for anther few kms.
With all the drama, the storm, the race cancellation, not giving in for a further 28kms had the very positive effect of raising a lot of awareness and money for Hughs house. I have completed Ironmans in personal best times, and feel and felt better about last weekend.
No finish times, no results, just spending a morning during an orange weather warning with an eclectic bunch of people. And I could not be happier.
I think I have found my calling, 100kms races.
To be raced from June to September however.