The last four miles the lights went out, all I could do was put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. If Becky said something as far as I was concerned I was smiling, apparently there was no expression on my face. I couldn’t see the finish, why wasn’t it there, I knew it had to be soon. I peered round each corner trying to get a glimpse of the finishing banner then I could start running. Finally there it was, I couldn’t believe I was about to complete something no one else had done before and perhaps many thought wasn’t possible. Goodness knows where that last bit of energy came from but I managed to break into a run and just kept focusing on the finishing line.
As I got closer I could see my other crew members Paul & HWMBO and Dick was holding the much coveted medal, this was the picture I had kept in my mind since the beginning; I’d done it and proved that it could be done.
My brain is still feeling a wee bit fluffy so I will do my Race Report over the weekend, but I wanted to put a few thoughts down about the event.
James and I had thought about doing Double Grand Union Canal Race over a year ago, starting in London and running to Birmingham, then running back to London with the race,(290 miles) so it was particularly sad to have to say goodbye to James at 40 miles on the first leg, but for him it was absolutely the right decision, although a difficult one as James doesn’t give up without a fight.
Considering the weather forecast for the Thursday/Friday we were extremely lucky. We had the odd patch of rain on Thursday, Thursday evening was extremely cold and Friday we had more patches of heavy rain together with a headwind and a hail storm (where is our summer!).
At about the 100 mile point I got cystitis which is a nightmare when you are running as it makes your bladder feel as though it needs emptying all the time. I was well hydrated so that wasn’t the problem, but kept running until the last 25 miles when I decided that as I had the return trip the following day I would powerwalk. Walking for that amount of time is very dull but it was the right decision as it stops the bladder bouncing and no extra pressure was being put on it.
It’s always the last section that takes the longest, Becky told me that people were at the finish to see me come in, I didn’t believe her, why would people come to see me finish, but my goodness they did, it was the most marvellous feeling in the world to see familiar faces and people I didn’t know there to support me and cheer me in; I felt extremely privileged to have their support, it was quite overwhelming.
The next day I will admit I was a wee bit nervous, perhaps I had taken off more than I could chew, what a twat I’m going to look if I don’t achieve this, lots of different thoughts went through my mind. I started at the back which I will admit felt very odd but was definitely the right place to be.
I really enjoyed the race back, there was no pressure to win or set any records, the only pressure was to finish. The sun was shining, I chatted to people, walked with others to do some more talking, waved and talked to the people on the canal, I was having a marvellous time. My bladder was still causing issues but seemed to be under control as my crew were giving me medicine (which they had been doing since Friday) and I had cranberry juice at every CP. However, my stomach decided to have a bit of a rebellious moment and everything that went in came out so I think I know most of the bushes on the way down to London!
The support on this race is second to none, absolutely fantastic and coming into CPs always gave me a huge lift, not only from my amazing crew but also from everyone else.
I know there were a few people who didn’t approve of me doing the Double, which I can appreciate. It was never my intention to take anything away from such an iconic and special race and I hope I didn’t. Dick knew of my intentions as I had told him and he very kindly gave me a place on the race, so I had to show Dick that I was worthy of that place.
When I finished I gave Dick a very smelly hug (poor man) burst into tears and said “that was hard” understatement of the year! being awake for two lots of 30 plus hours, running on trails is hard work; but I loved it!
31hrs 50 for London – Birmingham
36hrs 49 – Birmingham – London
My silliest comment on the return trip (although I was being quite serious!) was turning round to Becky and saying “I can’t believe there are so many hills in this race” (teehee!!!)
A huge big thank you goes to my absolutely amazing crew Becky Healey, Paul George and of course HWMBO. They did an outstanding job of looking after me, everyone knew what do to and all I had to do was run, a very professional set up and I’m extremely grateful that they gave up their bank holiday weekend to be there for me.
I will do proper thank yous in my Race Report, but wanted to say a big thanks to Dick for putting on a very special race and to all the marshalls/crew for looking after everyone so well.
Many many congratulations to everyone who finished but a special mention has to go to James Elson who ran an awesome race winning in a time of 29 hrs 10 mins, brilliant; I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Hearing he had won put a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
My feet are staying firmly out of my trainers for the next few days, I have no blisters which is great but neither my body nor my brain are ready to go back yet so I shall enjoy drinking Rose in the garden this weekend!