Simply put I didn't finish, I simply couldn't. After 62.1KM my knees totally went from under me and I had to pull out, just after checkpoint 6. Anyways, this was just the abridged version for those who cant be bothered to read the rest ;)
For those that can be bothered, here's how it all happened.
We left the office at 4, oh no wait, that was the intended time to leave, the coach had another idea. We eventually got on our way from the office just as evening rush hour was building up, and our coach was missing a few vital features, such as `air`, not just air con, but AIR.. it was like sitting inside a plastic bag for a few hours :) great start :) Our support team were lucky in that they were driving in the car, which HAD air con, but was so overladen with stuff am sure it drove like a wet lettuce.
Arriving at the camp site was cool, as we got our glimpse at the set up the Gurkha's had for us. Lots of big tents full of people and food :) oh and tea on tap :)
We registered our team of 3, one of our team having to drop out last minute on medical advice, and got given our tags which we would need to log our progress on RFID readers along the route.
Then we had the fun task of setting up our tent for the nights stay, again our support team were very proficient and it was up very quickly and looked almost luxurious compared to some of the other tents around us, altho there were plenty of `seriously never been camping before` tents which had gazebos and looked like had en-suite bathrooms they were rather large and imposing.
The rain had held off so far but was slowly moving in on us as we finished up our evening meal of 4 types of pasta and bolognese (even had a veggie option which some took without realising until had the mince version for 2nds). I found the tea urn very quickly and whilst most were downing cans of beer from the bar, I was enjoying the typhoon tea on offer :) You can take the Yorkshireman out of Yorkshire and all that ;)
|Pool of water above my head.|
I woke up to see a very large pool of water right above my head threatening to seep thru and give me a wake up shower
Woke up very early, well couldn't really sleep to be honest, mixture of excited and fear all rolled into one handy package stopping me from sleeping, oh that and the snoring :)
|Camp site the morning after.|
We went for a wander, and to get a cuppa from the main tent. Was about 6ish
|View of the main `tea` tent|
With the start times being staggered, with `early`, `not as early` and `humane morning` options. We were going at the `not as early` time of 830am. So plenty of time to get some brekkie and more tea. The breakfast wasn't as tasty as the dinner from the night before, but wasn't complaining. There was copious amounts of bread and bacon so bacon butties were the order of the day.
After we'd taken the tent down and got ourselves psyched up for the start we made our way to the line, to be met by a wall of `plastic` with people seemingly covering themselves in really strange makeshift waterproofing equipment, ie Sainsbury's bags wrapped around shoes and over backpacks.. With the weather forecasts saying it was going to be wet would have thought they would have realised that bring more permanent protection, oh well their loss :)
We had a quick briefing and a thank you from the organisers and a little after 830 we were off.. slowly, and steadily. The sheer number of people meant that there wasn't really going to be any time we'd be out of sight of another group of walkers, and that remained true for my entire walk, I don't think we once looked at a map as we didn't need to.
Well i say didn't need to, the sheer volume of rain meant that the paths were totally bogged down, and we were just following the footprints and slide marks from the earlier groups.
For the first 2 checkpoints we were in either drizzle or real hard rain, which totally sapped my motivation and made the going very slow. However i did get light relief from the fact I'd paid not a great deal for my waterproof coat/trousers etc, yet i heard people moaning how much they'd paid for their equipment (even heard the word `thousands` being bandied about) and they were just as soaked through as me, so yay for cheap :)
CP2 was a river of mud for the support teams. We were huddled under our umbrella and boot of the support car trying to eat sarnies, as the mud flowed past our feet. Other teams had full gazebos setup and looked as if they did this thing every day and were wondering what all the kerfuffle was about :)
The rain slowly eased after CP 2 and even had a little sun breaking through by CP4. However the paths were still totally bogged down and huge pools of water blocked our way on many occasions, so we got very wet feet, meaning blisters weren't long in forming (well they were inevitable anyway but being wet wasn't helping).
|CP4 burgers (off screen)|
We set off with a gusto after a decent meal, but this was the beginning of the end for my body. The hills i could manage by just slowing down, but what goes up, must come down, and it was the slow gradual descents on the gravel and harder paths was making my walk more and more painful. I slowed right down and could feel my muscles and knees starting to fight me.
Arriving at CP5 I was in total agony. Stopping by the Red Cross tent got advised to take painkillers, get a massage and see how it went. Gotta love field medicine :) Promptly hobbled to the queue for the massages and got advised by the physio to get the left knee strapped up.
We'd got knee supports in the support car so I prescribed myself a knee support and 2 Ibuprofens. Now I have a history with painkillers, I don't take them often due to how they make me VERY hyper. I warned my 2 team mates in advance and apologised if I babbled and went `a little mental` in the next section.
Doped up and strapped up we set off, back at a very quick pace, if anything TOO quick a pace, but i couldn't feel a thing and was commenting on the shapes of the clouds looking like pigs and the like (i did WARN them!)
The end of this stage was a very gradual slow decline on a tarmac path and it totally destroyed me OTHER knee :( I was in utter agony as the painkillers had worn off and my body was really fighting me. We'd made it to CP6 however. Sitting down was murder as my body was saying `right don't get up` but i HAD to sort out my feet as my socks were wet and i needed to change them. So catch 22.
After a quick break and a mini `damsel in distress` rescue mission by our support team - Another team had had 2 drop outs and there was no room in their car so we became a taxi for one of their support team taking her to the next CP - we set off for CP7.
The start of this stage was flat as it followed a river for a bit but even this was a struggle, I'd dosed myself back up with more Ibuprofen but it wasn't making any difference, every step was painful. This stage took us through a village and at the other end of the village was a BIG hill, and i get the feeling my body was very aware of this. Crossing a road and lifting my leg to mount the curb was too much for my right knee to take, and it totally went from under me, i only stayed upright as my walking pole took the weight. I was done :( My head was so angry at my body for failing it that i was still adamant i could continue and it took my team mates saying enough was enough before we called the support team (just finishing their previous rescue mission) and told them to come pick me up.
To add to my mental embarrassment, as we were waiting for the support team, a large number of walkers from the other Square Enix teams walked past us as I was sat unceremoniously on a wall. Felt so bad that I was letting them all down by not being able to walk off with them. Its amazing how your mind really fights common sense and logic sometimes, people keep telling me I did an amazing thing and should be so proud of what i had achieved, but at that moment on the side of the road I felt a failure.
The support team picked me up and we made our way to CP7 where I `de registered ` myself, and I made another visit to the red cross to seek advice. They were very worried by my knee and its `movement` etc and strapped it up with bandages. I was now a hobbler and a support crew member. This was all about 1-2am so was absolutely knackered, but carried on.
The remaining 2 members of our team `TrailRaiders` soldiered on, but by CP9 we had another major injury worry and we were down to 1, now technically that's not allowed, so they attached themselves onto another Square Enix team, and crossed the finish line at the Brighton Racecourse with them.
|My knee swollen|
THANKFULLY 10 days after my knee and joints are not quite as pissed off at me and I'm moving about almost normally now, just the occasional twinge if I stretch too far or go too fast. Driving a Lamborghini on the 25th probably wasn't the best thing for my recovery as the clutch was SO heavy, but hey i wasn't gonna miss out on that :)
|Knee strapped in the hotel room|
After the meal we hobbled back to the hotel bar where we had partook in a nightcap (brandy for me heh) and then retired to the rooms. Breakfast was a lovely buffet again and we waited for our coach to turn up and take us back to reality.
|Coach back to Wimbledon|
Oh as a last note I have to mention the amazing Gurkha's themselves. Truly in awe of them, they organised and marshalled the event, and had a team actually RUN the course in under 10 hours THEN go back to marshalling! that's truly something else.. ah and as a mini sub-note to this mention the Gurkha who saw me hobbling at the end and asked where my medal was, when said I didn't have one as I hadn't completed the course, he ran off and got me one and gave me a little thank you presentation apologising for failing me, as if my knees giving up was somehow related to a fault in their organisation of the event. I quickly tried to correct him it was my body failing not them :)
Would I do it again next year? erm.. maybe support..... ;) and as a very final note.. if you've not sponsored, you still can here