There are a few excuses but the bottom line is that I wasn't mentally tough enough to run 100 miles. I have learnt a lot from my first attempt at the distance, experience which I will use on my next attempt.
I had imagined a busy scene of like minded runners at the start of the 100 at Gainsborough Primary School in Hackney, East London. Instead I met the only other 2pm starter, Iain Connell who was intending to walk. Iain had decided to start at 2pm in order to be able to access Windsor Park gates before they were locked. He could then walk the final part of the 100 mile route up 'the long walk' a straight road leading to Windsor Castle. The start of the big event was an anti climax, Iain, myself and a gaggle of supporters all drinking tea on the third floor of an empty east London primary school whilst waiting for the clock to move closer to 2pm on Saturday afternoon.
|Iain Connell and I at the start olympic stadium in b/g|
The route then followed along the Southern bank of the Thames, past the Old Royal Naval College and eventually on to the Thames Barrier. I was running strong at this point. I was benefiting from the lack of pressure, running solo but still feeling isolated by my remoteness from the rest of the event. I remember being glad to reach one of the first check points at Millwall Rugby Club and for the first time in ages I was reminded that I was actually taking part in an organised event. The checkpoint was billed as "splash and dash". I splashed my water bottle and dashed off towards the second checkpoint at Meridian Sports Club near Greenwich. I was getting used to the abbreviations on the route description and was encouraged that I could read a few lines ahead and keep running. At CP 2 still no sign of any back markers in fact I was told that the last person had left over an hour earlier. I got lost between CP 2 and CP 3. I crossed Eltham Common and came out at the wrong end. I ran around the perimeter before fighting through bushes in an attempt to get back on to the common but the thicket was too dense. I was a bit disheartened, perhaps 16 miles in and I had already got lost. Eventually I asked a passing pedestrian the way to Shooters Hill, he obliged, I ran on and reorientated myself with the route description shortly afterwards phew!
CP3 at Mottingham Scout HQ arrived and I was glad to see Tracy who had benefited from a shopping trip to the vast Westfield Centre adjacent to the start in Stratford East London. Here I was to realise the vast amounts of food layed on for entrants which was to continue through the event. Biscuits, cakes, sweets, fruit, custard and all manner of cold and hot drinks. I was now 18.2 miles in and feeling great. I was excited about the anticipation of gaining on the field of participants in front. The route then headed South towards Surrey. The urban sprawl of Greater London gave way to cricket fields and railway tracks, woods and country parks.
I don't remember the route in detail after this. I do remember getting lost in a wood again and it taking me a while to re orientate myself, again, with the help of a passing pedestrian. I began to pick up the back marker walkers after perhaps 25 miles and I was glad to at last feel part of the event. I recall passing over lots of railway lines and I questioned where so many lines could lead. It was great to be following a route description through areas that I had never travelled. Navigating the woods was challenging and there were endless dogs to negotiate but no harm caused.
I ran into CP 5 at Biggin Hill and was surprised. It was very busy, I had managed to catch up with the 10am walkers. It was going dusk outside and it had begun to rain. My spirits were high. I had run 30 miles and felt strong upbeat and excited. I was now part of the event at last. I felt sorry for Iain miles behind. I didn't dwell at Biggin Hill. I was keen to get as far as possible before the night set in. I wanted to get to another checkpoint before donning my head torch and night clothes. I left the checkpoint and was surprised that the rain had turned heavier. I retrieved my Ronhill perspex jacket and pulled it over my buff which I had fastened over my head. I ran on to Woldingham Scout hut and was surprised that in that six mile leg I had got wet through. The dark had fallen and in hindsight during that six miles I experienced the first hint of demoralisation. Each checkpoint was getting busier and I noticed some other walking participants looking increasingly tired. Between checkpoints I was passing lots of walkers and I hoped they didn't find me big headed running past them at times when perhaps they too were beginning to feel the strain of the event.
|Someone escaped for a kip behind that red curtain|
|A typical woodland trail but dry.|
When I retired I was quite sure the majority of the field would be doing the same. I was wrong. Out out of 488 started 383 finished. I think I got overtaken by an unrealistic view of how bad conditions were. It was wet which made me cold but that's all. In hindsight I wished I had taken a fully waterproof running jacket, that would have helped. I also would in hindsight have preferred to start at 10am and feel part of the event and run with people of similar ability. It might have helped to group with those of similar ability during the night. I never caught the runners that started at 10am. Make no mistake about it even if the matters above were addressed I might not have finished. I have to improve mental strength and refuse to accept demorolization. The biggest disappointment is knowing that I will probably not get the chance to do such an easy urban course again. Next year's event is across Dartmoor and the year after the Welsh Valley's I don't much feel like being demoralised in either location!
Thank you to all the people that organised the event. The organisation must be colossal. Different regional groups of the LDWA run the different checkpoints, the support and encouragement of the volunteers is second to none.
As for my sole 2pm starting compatriot Iain the results show that he made it to CP 14 at 81.9 miles. I have no idea how he managed to get that far after starting at 2pm and walking I am surprised he wasn't timed out, perhaps he was.....I hope he wasn't.
Next year's event details are found here
Next year's event details are found here