Monday
Nov222010

This one deserves a new blog of it's own

Well, after some delay with entries being available for the race I am finally in a position where I think I am actually going to do this race. I have paid the money (that I don't currently have) and got a confirmation email that it's all going to happen. There is still quite a lot to get my head around. This is so big I can't even begin to imagine how hard it's going to be.

Around 4 years ago, well 4 years ago exactly I was preparing my body and mind for a 45 mile ultra along a canal in England. 45 miles in one go? Sounds ridiculous. I thought that humans were designed to explode soon after breaking through the 26.2 mile mark but apparently not. I remember being quite anal about it at the time. I was looking at the wind speed before the race to see whether it was favourable or not, wondering what shoes to wear, the terrain, the food, the daylight. After all, 45 miles is a long way. There is a lot to panic about.

And so logically speaking running 45 miles a day for 70 days consecutively without a rest day should involve a whole lot more to worry about. I can't quite multiply all those things by 70 and give a definitive panic level. In fact I feel pretty relaxed about it right now. Which probably means I still don't think it's going to happen.

So in a nutshell in case you have not heard I am going to attempt the Los Angeles to New York race next year. Starts in LA on the 19th June, ends in New York 23rd August. 3220 miles in 70 days which is an average of 45 a day. The shortest stage will be around 30 miles, there are a few stages over 55. Actually writing that raised the panic levels a bit.

I've been thinking about this for some time now. Since before Badwater but I didn't want to say too much about it. Now circumstances might arise that would make it a crime for me not to do this. Something like this only comes along once in a decade, I feel like if I don't do it now I may never get the chance.

Plus I bought a fucking HUGE map for nearly £50. If I don't do it now that will be a complete waste.

 

Monday
Nov292010

Time to feel like a baby again

Day by day the entry list for the Race Across America increases. I am currently stalking through the various "CV Sportifs" of the people I am going to meet when I am in the States next summer. I know they are doing the same to me, I get the website stats telling me so. I'm not looking at them as competition, I am just intrigued as to what they may have done that now leads them to taking on a challenge such as running across the USA.

I loved the feeling I got in the Spartathlon last year of being a complete novice in the presence of such great runners who have done many great things. I felt awe and inspiration from others with a dozen spartathlons, badwaters, UTMB's and other silly runs behind them that made my 2 Grand Union Canal Runs feel a bit pedestrian. Looking at this list there are a few achievements that stand out.

There are walks/runs across various continents. 5600km from Kenya to Cameroon, 2700k from Hokkaido to Kagoshima, Trans Australia, Germany, Japan, Switz, France to Turkey. Lots of week long treadmill challenges and 1000 mile pbs mentioned. This guy has rowed across oceans on his own and is probably my biggest rival in the beard growing race.

There are a few there with experience similar to mine. A few Spartathlons and Badwater mentions. There was no qualifying standard for this race which is probably just as well. What on earth can you do to demonstrate that you can run across America?

I feel that I am lacking somewhat in multi-day experience. I have only done 2 week long events whereas many of the runners here have completed runs of 1000+ miles. I am not sure how much of this I can change in the next 6 months.

Shit, is it really only 6 months?

Tuesday
Dec142010

The great race of 1928

On March 4th in 1928 199 runners set out from Los Angeles to race to New York and claim a prize of $25,000 for first place. That was quite a lot of money at the time, a policeman would earn about $40 a week. In fact that is still a lot of money now, I estimate that is what it will cost me to do this.

I first heard about this race by reading The Bunion Derby, a fantastic book about the race (link goes to google preview). It is an account based on newspaper reports spanning the 84 days and 3400 miles of the race. Things were very different then.

The twenties in the USA was in interesting decade. An economic boom and huge rises in personal income for many which led to some crazy behaviour. Drinking alcohol was illegal and people expressed themselves in funyn ways, such as by 24 hour dancing, week long flag pole sitting and swimming for days. People seemed to go mad for the endurance challenges.

Charlie C Pyle, more of a circus promoter than an endurance enthusiast saw this as an opportunity to make his name (and some money do doubt as was the theme at the time) by promoting what he called "The Greatest Show on Earth" (he was a modest chap). He offered a large prize for runners who (for $100 deposit) could run along the newly built (and in many parts not quite built) Route 66 from LA to Chicago and then across to New York. Strangely enough it probably seemed like a fairly normal thing to do 70 years ago, more so than now.

I don't want to go into detail of the book (or spoil the ending) and I recommend you all read it and I challenge you to not want to follow their footsteps on finishing the book. There are however a few things that just stood out for me when reading.

  • It was a proper race. Not much I do nowadays seems like a proper race but these guys all seemed to be there in hope of winning the money. Most of the competitors were quite poor and scraped the $100 somehow and gambled with 3 months of their lives that they could win this
  • They were actually running quite fast. Quite often I'd read something like "So and so won the 38 mile stage averaging 8 miles an hour". 8 miles an hour for 38 miles when you've already run 2000? That would be the kind of time I would do if I just tried to run that distance once at full speed and did not have to get up for the next week.
  • America is enormous. Well, not just the distance but the geography that you have to run through. The route goes through the hottest desert, mountain ranges, great plains where the winds are so bad that trees grow sideways.
  • Everyone was so young. There were a lot of people in their 20s. There was one kid who was 15 and got halfway before this was discovered and he was kicked out. There were not many over 40. Next year there will be not many under 40.
  • I actually found out what a bunion is. I thought it was like a callous or something but it is actually quite severe muscle contortion in the foot. I don't want to get that.
  • The winning time was 573h 4m 34s. That is a long long time. And why on earth were they measuring the seconds?
Thursday
Dec302010

GoogleMaps

I've just tried to map out the route of the race. It was a lot harder than it sounds. I have a list of 70 places that we are likely to go through but not sure which roads we will take. Also Google Maps bless them only allow you to put in 25 destinations per map so I have had to do it on 3. A few of the places I could not find but hope it gives an idea of

Now, is there a feature on GoogleMaps where I can locate all the Subways on route?

 


View Larger Map


View Larger Map


View Larger Map

Tuesday
Feb082011

The Rules

Quite a lazy post here but just to answer a lot of the questions that I am getting that even I forget the answer to here are the "rules" of the race plus some notes from myself in [bold brackets]. I Have removed some of the articles that are not that interesting.

 

LOS ANGELES – NEW YORK  FOOTRACE
19 June to 27 August 2011 [Flights booked :)]

ARTICLE 1: 0RGANIZATION

UltraRunning Association (URA) is organizing the « LA – NY FOOTRACE » which will take place from 19 June to 27 August, 2011 between Los Angeles and New York.  URA retains the right to modify these race rules and/or the itinerary in case of circumstances beyond its control: administrative problems, weather conditions or other risks.

ARTICLE 2: THE RACE
The « LA – NY FOOTRACE » is a free style race, by stages, over a distance of approximately 3000 miles without a single day of rest on asphalt and in some cases gravel roads.  [that's right, not a single day of rest. Still I imagine that a rest day would end up doing more damage that good, sending my body into recovery mode and then being unable to run the following day. I expect the DOMS to kick in around Christmas]

ARTICLE 3: ELIGIBILITY
Eligible to participate:  A person of any nationality, 18 years of age or older who meets the requirements of these race rules. [They are not that picky about who enters. Many ultras have race qualification criterea but with this one it seems to be that if you send in your entry you are automatically capable of doing this race. Interesting]

ARTICLE 4: RACE SCHEDULE
The night before departure there will be an information meeting.  The place, date and time of the meeting will be communicated at a later date.  All runners and followers (where applicable) MUST be present.  
At the meeting you will receive bibs with numbers and a road book with details of every stage of the race.
Departure: June 19 from LA (Huntington Beach or Santa Monica), California
Itinerary:  California – Arizona – Oklahoma – New Mexico – Missouri – Illinois – Indiana – Ohio – West Virginia - Pennsylvania – Maryland – Pennsylvania (one more time) - New Jersey – New York [yes thats THIRTEEN states]
Arrival in New York:  August 27

ARTICLE 5: RUNNER WITHOUT A SUPPORT CREW
Possible after Flagstaff [I need a support crew for the first 2 weeks as I am running though the desert and have not sorted this out yet. Best get on the forums..]
In order to have as many participants as possible, we will accept runners without a support crew after Flagstaff; however, we make it clear to these participants that under no circumstance will the race organizers act as a support crew.  Runners without support crew are responsible for their own navigation with the road book and for their food.  The organizers will set up aid stations every 4 miles which will provide water, energy drinks and bars.  The organizers’ vehicle will go back and forth during the race carrying water but it will not make special trips for individual runners. [Checkpoints every 4 miles? I can handle that. It will be just like 21 Spartathlons]
Wherever possible we suggest that runners without a support crew group together in order to share a vehicle and a crew or stay close to someone who has a support crew in order to share a vehicle and the services of a crew.

ARTICLE 6: RUNNER WITH A SUPPORT CREW
A runner can be accompanied by one or several followers and by a vehicle for the entire race and on each stage.
If several runners wish to use the same crew (vehicle and follower) they can do so but it is entirely their responsibility and they must inform the organizers.
Each vehicle must be marked, in a way that is visible to all, with the number or numbers of the bibs worn by the runner or runners it is assisting.

ARTICLE 7: RANKING
At the end of each stage a ranking for the day and a general ranking (the total of previous stage results) will be available to all participants.
There will be one ranking: scratch, regardless of age. [Damn it. I was hoping to be on the podium for 27-32 year old male from Ealing]
There will be separate rankings for men and women
Cut-off time:  This equals the distance to be run multiplied by the average time of 5.7 KPH or 3.5 MPH. [That's not slow.... The cut off pace for the MDS is about 2mph, same for Badwater, GUCR is about 3mph, Spartathlon is about 4mph]
Each morning, before start, the cut-off time will be communicated to all participants. If a runner exceeds this time he/she will be disqualified.  The runner may continue to participate in the race but will not be ranked. [This may well happen. If it does I am going to try my best to complete the distance anyway. Crossing america will still be an awesome thing even if I do not get an official ranking]

ARTICLE 8: IDENTIFICATION MARKS: BIBS AND SPONSORING
Bibs:
URA will supply a set of personalized bibs to each runner for the entire race.  Bibs must be worn on the chest of each runner and be visible at all times.  If the bib is not visible at all times there will be a penalty.
Individual sponsoring: [I have yet to get any of this but if you have any ideas or contacts then let me know :)]
Runners may wear branded t-shirts, except on the chest (the space reserved for the bib), shorts, caps and water bags.
Note:  The organization reserves the right to prohibit any discriminatory or indecent markings.

ARTICLE 9: GENERAL ORGANIZATION BY ULTRARUNNING ASSOCIATION
URA will provide:
Basic breakfasts (only for each runner): tea, coffee, sugar, bread, jam.
At refuelling points:  water, energy drinks or Coca Cola, cereal and energy bars and salty crackers. [I wonder how many gallons of coke I will drink along the way? Someone remind me to take my toothbrush]

URA will not be responsible for the evening meals or sleeping accommodation. [this is quite key and will be the biggest expense]

For runners without a support crew (vehicle and follower), the organizers can reserve accommodation in the same hotel as the organizers, if there is availability for everybody. If the runners wish to stay in another hotel they must arrange their own transportation.

Baggage for runners without a support crew will be transported by the organizers each day from the start to the end of each stage.  The number of bags will be limited to 2 per runner.  This service will cost 100 US dollars per runner.  For each extra baggage the charge will be: US $400. [Glad I am not gluten intolorant. That would mean spending an extra $2400 on bag transportation]
Runners will be expected to carry their bags to the van every morning before the race begins and collect them from the van at the finish every day.

Laundry:  Some motels have washers and dryers.  The organizers will not be responsible for the laundry of the runners and support crews. [ahhhhh, the sweet aroma of an ultra runner]

ARTICLE 10: ORGANIZATION FOR DAILY DEPARTURE
All runners must be present at the starting point 25 minutes before the official departure time for the daily briefing and to sign the race sheet for the stage.

ARTICLE 11: ORGANIZATION DURING THE RACE
A vehicle belonging to the organizers will go back and forth during the race to ensure that everything is OK and that the race rules are respected. The people in these vehicles will be authorized to hand out penalties to runners. (See Annex later)

ARTICLE 12 : MANDATORY
For any part of a stage run at night or if visibility is poor (fog, rain, etc.) runners must wear a head light and a fluorescent vest.
Runners must wear a belt with bottles or a water bag (minimum 1.5 litres) for the entire stage [hmmm, I did not really think about this so I guess I should get used to carrying my bottle belt]
Runners must maintain a minimum of US$10 on them throughout the race. [Oh I will be carrying more than that. Never know when you might see a McDonalds or Subway]
Runners must keep the daily race sheet with them at all times during the stage.
Runners must have a tent and sleeping bag because some stages may finish in a place without accommodation and camping will be necessary.
Runners must bring a bowl, plate, cup, knife, fork & spoon.  These will be used at breakfast and at dinner when we camp.
Runners and followers must adhere to the safety rules of the road and the laws in all the states crossed
A guarantee of US $200 will be paid by each runner at the meeting before departure (a receipt will be given).  This sum will be held to cover any expenses due to damage or fines incurred by the runner or follower(s) and the portion not used will be returned at the end of the race or the day the runner leaves the race.

ARTICLE 13: WITHDRAWAL
1)    In case of withdrawal or elimination before 7 full days of the race, the runners cannot remain in the race and must make arrangements to travel to the city of their choice.  The organizers will not be responsible for managing their return or paying for it.
2)    After the 8th day of the race, runners who withdraw or are eliminated can, if they wish, run without a bib as long as they do not disturb other race participants.  The names of the runners who are no longer part of the race will not appear on any ranking.



ARTICLE 16: ROAD BOOK
Once the entire entry fee has been paid, no later than 3 months before the start date of the race (March 19, 2011), the organizers will send, by mail, a general road book with the number of stages, mileage for each stage and a list of the principal cities.  The detailed road book will be given to runners at the meeting on the eve of departure.
If necessary the itinerary may be modified one day to the next.  The organizers reserve to right to suspend the race for as little as a few miles or as much as one or more stages, for whatever reason, for example due to flood, fire, closed roads, etc.

ARTICLE 17: INSURANCE
It is strongly recommended that runners and followers take out insurance that will cover the cost of hospitalization and/or eventual repatriation to their home country.
Every runner and crew member is responsible for his/her own health.  The organizers will not be held responsible for any health problem that may arise.  A waiver of responsibility must be signed by each runner and crew member for their enrollment to be valid.

ARTICLE 18: ENTRY FEES (All prices are in US dollars)

Lots

The number of competitors in the race is limited to 30

ARTICLE 21: ENTRY FEES COVER THE FOLLOWING FOR EACH RUNNER
·    Organization of the race
·    Reconnaissance of the route
·    A detailed road book
·    A set of bibs
·    Ranking
·    Timing
·    Briefing before departure with welcome drinks
·    A prize for all « finishers »
·    A diploma
·    A t-shirt for everyone at the start
·    A t-shirt at the end for all « finishers »
·    The evening to celebrate the end of the race and award prizes
·    Update of the race website
·    Basic breakfasts: tea coffee, bread and jam
·    Distribution during race of: water, energy drinks or Coca Cola, energy bar (power bar) and salted crackers        
·    One night in a hotel in New York (double occupancy rooms)

ARTICLE 22: PHOTO RIGHTS
The participants of the race authorize UltraRunning Association, free of rights and without payment, to use their names and photos for its personal or commercial use.




 

Monday
Feb212011

A couple of videos that are making me a bit excited

I am really looking forward to Marshall Ulrichs book "Running on Empty". Documenting his crossing of the USA a couple of years ago. He has a fantastic blog with lots of good advice on training in all weathers, nutrition and recovery. He ran 60 miles a day which makes my 45 look quite easy. Anyhoo, here are a couple of videos that are giving me goosebumps just now.

 

Friday
Feb252011

Race Across America - Sponsored by Excel

I've not been working for a month now and I miss the allure of a collection of pointless graphs. So I made some.

We got send the revised itinery for the race yesterday (this may still change but for the first time I am having a look at the day to day miles that are required. Here is a chart of each days mileage. Very exciting..

The "average" day is 45.7 miles which just happens to be the length of the first stage. I can't imagine the first day being "average" though.

My intention is to make an "average" day of 45 miles last about 10 hours, which only means an average pace of 4.5 miles an hour. The race cut-off is 3.5 miles per hour. I don't intend to run that slow, I will run faster and take walking breaks. The key is to survive the first few weeks without getting injured so that I am in good shape to press on in the later weeks where the mileage increases.

The shortest day is 26.4 miles, barely a marathon on day 65. If I get that far I'd be tempted to go for a PB :)

The longest day is 59.7 miles on day 29. The cut-off time for this is 17 hours. It might take all of those.

Week by week the mileage sticks at around 300 until weeks 8 and 9 which are 350. By then (if I am still in the race) I should be super-human and have no problem with 50 miles per day.

Weekly Mileage

At my intended pace this race should take me 710 hours and 39 minutes, or 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours and 39 minutes (I have not counted the seconds, I don't think it will come to that).

If I were to run at the cut-off pace that time would be 913 hours and 42 minutes, or 5 weeks 3 days 1 hour and 39 minutes. I intend to break the cut-offs by over a week.

Here is another summary of the mileage. This time in a table. I can tell you are about to explode in excitement.

I could work out the standard deviation of the stages but I have forgotten how and have no idea what purpose it would have. There are no rest days in the race so we will have to consider anything less than 35 miles as a rest day, in which case we get 8.

What I have been doing in the past month

Hope you enjoyed. Just be thankful I don't have a Garmin. Imagine how many people I could send to sleep with the graphs from one of those.

Wednesday
May112011

Been a long time....

Crikey it has been a long time since I updated the Running Across America blog. What on earth have I been doing? Not a lot really. I wouldn't say I'm "training hard" to be ready for this race as I know I'll need to train when I get there.

I still have not finalised a crew. Laurie who led my support crew in Badwater has offered to help for the first 5 days which I am really excited about. She did a great job of kicking my arse to the end of Badwater and I am thrilled that she will be there again. I am still waiting on a couple of other options regarding help, then I might panic a bit and spam every message board with requests. Failing that I could just get a local hobo? You've seen Happy Gilmore right?

I will only have a crew for the first 2 weeks as per the rules. The remaining 8 I will be supported by the race. Most others will have their own support crews but I would rather do it alone.

In fact on the subject of doing it alone check out John Price's blog. He is about to finish a solo run across America, pushing all his stuff in a baby jogger. Awesome achievement.

Dean Karnazes yesterday finished the epic run too yesterday. He was raising awareness for health and activity for kids in the USA. A fantastic cause and an epic run, you'd expect nothing less from Dean.

A few race updates. I am expecting the road book shortly that will tell me where I'll be running exactly. The large USA map of my run is on display in my running club HQ since I did not have a wall big enough to put it. It's probably a good thing that I don't get to see it that often. 

Serge Girard; the creator of this race has managed to delegate some of the organisation so that he can run it himself. He is by far the most experienced of the field so I would expect him to do very well indeed.

My operation seems like it's long gone. I've been getting a few miles in here and there. A few 50k runs and a recent 55m run have given me more confidence that I am up to this. It was not an "ideal" situation with having to have a month off to have an op but then nothing about this race could ever be "ideal". 

I have not really sought sponsorship or anything. I sent a few speculative emails to some companies who's products I like but with no response. However I did get sent a load of really good T-shirts and vests and shorts from Columbia Sportswear. I do really like their stuff and I wore their tops in Badwater and was wearing Columbia shorts and shirt (yes shirt - I was told I looked very smart) in the Spartathlon. The stuff is really good quality and very lightweight so will be ideal for the race, partularly when it is hot. Thanks guys :)

In terms of training I am just trying to run every day, not very far really but at least 10 miles. I tend to just run from A to B to C rather than "go for a run". I intend to keep this going until I fly out. So far this year I have run 1200 miles which is a bit more than I normally would have done hitherto but that is less than a months worth while I'm out there..

I still have not even decided which shoes to take, let alone how many. I've been trying some out but I have realised that I am a bit of a shoe whore and will stick my feet in anything so long as it's in the sales. 

Not entirely sure yet on a hydration system. A bottle belt or a rucksack? The rules state that I need to carry 1.5l with me at all times. Luckily I have tested a few things so will maybe take some different systems and change it about a bit.

I have a USA Sim Card (Thanks Tim :) ) This means I can facebook away while running. I shall be taking my netbook with me too and do as much blogging and photo uploading as I can. And Skypeing Gemma (if it's still called Skype by then).

I have bought a flag of each of the States I will run through. I did not realise they were all so big (3ft by 5ft). It would be good to get some photos of me with the flag in each state. Great card from fargonegreetins.com

The list of stuff I will take will be immense but it needs to fit into 2 bags for transportation. Within those bags will be the stick (for massaging myself at the end of each day), compression gear for recovery, minimal shoes (I find they are good for walking around in after a long run and get the blood flowing) and lots of other stuff.

I have not decided on how I am going to eat my way through this. Luckily I am also a food whore, I'll put anything down my throat so long as there are calories in it. The road book I hope will reveal just what I can expect. I should not have too much of a problem with alcohol. American beer is practically water anyway :)

Other than that I can think of no other burning issues. Except whether to shave or not to shave?

Anyway that's all for now. I have just recieved Marshal Ulrich's book about his crossing. Expect a rave review here soon.

 

Wednesday
Jun082011

A week till I fly out

Well it seems that I have nothing left to distract me from the fact that I have quite a big job to do this summer. There is nothing left for me to do other than figure out how I am going to run from one side of the USA to the other. And I am running out of time.

Some updates. Firstly Mark Cockbain has had to withdraw due to injury which is really gutting. He was the one who told me about this race in the first place and was more up for it than I was. It's a real shame that he won't be there now. Looks like I'll be flying the flag alone.

I have a crew for the early stages, Laurie, Debs and Dave the same people who supported me through Badwater. It's really good to have then on board and I know they are going to be brilliant. I'll just have to make sure I don't shout at the wrong crew this time..

There is a WEBSITE. This will be updated daily with how the runners are doing and should have photos and where we are. I'll still be blogging like a bastard though.

I am informed that the $5 Subway for July is Italian. I hope that's the same as the Italian BMT over here, my favourite subway.

There is also a book on various things that might happen out there on James Edgar's blog.

I am finallising some details now. Got my Travel Insurance (had to get it seperately as this trip is more than 45 days), got visa thing, trying to get phone to work and have booked another bag on the plane. All fairly boring except that it is really bringing home just how close this is getting now.

And this will be the longest I've ever been out of the country. I can't recall even being abroad for more than 10 days. 

As it draws closer and closer I think more about the days I have where I don't have to run. I try to run everyday but I am running out of days where I can just get up and do what I want. 

I am still packing kit. Right now it just consists of having a big bag where I'm going through my stuff and saying "might need that" as I toss it in. I think most of it is there now but need to make a list to check.

I have just had 3 pairs of Newtons delivered, I love these things and they gave me a great discount to support me for the race. 

I am also going to get some Elete water sent to me in LA courtesy of Elete. I used it in Badwater and found it to be really good. Not sure how much I'll end up needing but just sent them an email to say I'll probably drink 400-800 litres while I am out there. Gulp.

Here is a really detailed route book of the whole thing. Here is a shortened Media Guide with the general jist of it all. 

There are a few things I still need to do. I need to write down for my crew exactly what I want a day to look like. I will try to get up as near to the start as possible and have my coffee/breakfast in the first few miles. Not sure yet how often I'll want my crew to hand out water (I need to carry 1.5l anyway) as I am not really sure how hot it is yet. Towards the end of each day I need to slow down and eat again. 

The most important thing in the first few weeks is avoiding injury.

I also need to make a shopping list for when I get to LA. I'll probably buy my weight in protien powder, beef jerky and milkshake.

I just got an email from Virgin to tell me I should check in.

Shhhiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttt.

 

Tuesday
Jun142011

A day out the office

This is a guide to what I can expect on a typical day. The “Average” day is 45 miles of running though this ranges from 26.2-59.4 miles. Most of it is just to remind me to do things. I’ll forget.

I want 45 miles to take me around 10 hours. If I were to try and smash this distance I’d probably be running it in not much more than 6 hours. To do such a thing would be silly though.  Essentially what I am aiming for is a bit faster than half smashing it.

10 hours of running gives me 14 hours of not running at least 8 of which I would like to spend asleep. Having followed the Jogle race for the past 2 years I know how important it is to have plenty of hours to recover each day. It’s a fine balance between taking it easy on the run and having more time to recover. It’s a trade-off that I don’t normally have to think about in a 150 mile one-off race. A few hours added on one day because of a problem means less recovery and then compounds into the next day. 20 hour days are not sustainable for long.

So here is what I want a day to look like;

Each stage starts at 5.30am (at least early on). I want to wake up as late as possible each day. I have no fancy rituals (other than the very basic dump-coffee-dump-food-dump). If allowed I’d happily get out of bed and start running right away. I think there will be stage briefings that I’ll have to attend so that may not be possible. With that in mind getting up an hour before the run should be fine.

I don’t normally stretch before I run a long distance but if I am feeling the effects of previous days I might do some. Giving myself a bashing with the stick should also help.

I want to weigh myself each morning (and evening) and keep a log. Partly out of interest but mainly to settle bets back at home. I have scales to do this. I anticipate losing a few pounds along the way but would be using this as a guide for dehydration. If I am half a stone lighter than the previous day then I’ll know that I need to get a lot of fluid down me (or have lost a limb).

Kit – I have a selection of tops and shorts for all weathers. A blazing hot day I’ll wear one of the really lightweight white Columbia tops. Otherwise I have warmer long-sleeve tops and jackets if it is windy and cold.

REMEMBER Sweat band and/or buff. Too many races recently I’ve spent the whole time trying to wipe salty water out of my eyes.

Lube and Hygiene – I MUST remember to lube. I have forgotten this lots of times in the past and my future Grandchildren nearly would never exist to tell the tale.  I must also remember to brush my teeth. Sounds stupid reminding myself of this but I will be spending 10 weeks eating and drinking the kind of stuff that a dentist would be horrified by. Peter Gavuzzi in the 1928 race had to pull out with incredibly painful mouth problems. If possible I will shower before each stage too.

Breakfast – Coffee and whatever food is available. The organisers will supply a basic breakfast for most days and some will have a café to have food at. I really don’t care what goes in me, my nutritional strategy is to obey the First Law of Thermodynamics; What is in me >= work done by me + heat loss. I have worked for 10 years on this belly that should be enough to get me through this. I have at least 15kg of fat which translates to 15000*9=135000 calories. Burning say 120 a mile I have 1125 miles in my gut. In theory I don’t need to eat until I hit Oklahoma. I do like food though.

I also am not bothered by a particular timing of breakfast. If I end up eating 5 minutes before I start then so be it. In fact if I have to eat it during the first few miles of the run/walk then that is fine too. I think generally the fewer rituals and specific requirements I have the more likely it is that I’ll succeed.

But I’m not eating mushrooms though. They really are evil.

When running;

I hope to run along at a comfortable 9 minute mile jog, not too slow so it feels unnatural but not burning myself out either. This will be punctuated by walking breaks. I don’t have a specific “minutes running minutes walking” time split in mind, I’ll see how the land lies. I’ll slow/walk if there are significant uphills, if it’s really hot or when I am having an eating or drinking break, during road crossings or navigational parts, when overtaking someone who is walking for a chat.

It’s possible that I might walk the first few miles of each day so that I don’t get carried away or to eat. I plan on walking the last few miles too so that I can start eating and get the recovery process started early.

When supported I don’t need to take too much stuff with me, just the required water. I must make sure that I add my Elete water to everything I drink (and eat where possible). I am not yet sure what food the organisers will supply along the route (the guide says sports bars). If it is of the recovery/protein variety then I will take one of these towards the end of each stage.

I don’t really suffer from blisters (I get them but they are my friend) but it is likely that I’ll have to deal with a lot of these along the way. I probably won’t bother with them during a stage but at the end I hope to pop them and clean then properly and hopefully they will dry out enough so that I don’t need to tape them. I will take some compeed with me but I have never successfully managed to get the stuff to attach to my foot.

I DON’T want to take any painkillers. I didn’t in Badwater and have not this year so far (apart from hangovers). I am debating whether to even take painkillers with me.

I want to take LOADS of photos along the way, I’ll have my camera phone with me and hope to do lots of facebooking too.

When I have finished running I MUST remember that these next hours are as important as the running ones. Hopefully I will have already stuffed my face with food and that magic 1 hour window of my body metabolising protein at a faster rate will be taken advantage of. This is the time for stretch and massage. I’ll replace my shoes with the minimal ones or flip flops to walk around in. I’ve found this is great for loosening my legs up after a run.

Weigh myself again and drink accordingly.

NEVER had an ice bath before. Apparently they are essential though I don’t recall reading that the original Bunioneers had them so maybe they are an extravagance. Who knows. If it’s easily available then I might have a go.

Though I am taking lots of clothes I’ll probably aim to wear each item 3-4 days in a row then discard it. For this I need to wash them as much as is possible in the hotel rooms and dry them.

Skyping and calling home may be tricky. Before I start running at say 5am will be noon in the UK. When I have finished running at say 5pm it will be midnight in the UK. It’s going to be hard keeping in touch with Gemma but we’ll manage it somehow.

I want to blog as much as I can. I will write a book about all this (I’ve almost written it to the point just before the this race) and want to remember every detail so that I can draw upon it later. But also because I like reading back on it all. Hopefully I’ll get internet access and can upload photos and words each day.

I want to capture some of the more inane details too like all the food I ate, temperature and weather and all that.

I hope to keep track of the races that others are doing and it would be great if everyone can post stuff on my facebook about how everything is going. The Western States 100, UltraBalaton, Badwater, Thames Ring, UTMB, Leadville, North Downs 100, Davos and many more are happening while I am out there. Please let me know how you are all getting along. The worst thing about doing a big long race is that you have to miss other big long races L

Alcohol – Now we are talking. I’m not going to seek to drink but neither am I going to avoid it. If it’s a nice sunny evening and there is a bar at the place I am staying at then I see no reason why I should not reward myself with a couple of beers. Normally 4 is my limit before feeling a bit groggy the next day but I think the American beer exchange rate is similar to that of dollars and I can probably get away with 6 J

But I must make sure I drink plenty of water too. Boring.

Evening meals will be mainly in restaurants and I’ll have to take what I can get. Hopefully there will be plenty of steaks to choose from.

And then off to bed. Hopefully I’ll be tired enough to want to sleep around 8pm. I’ll just lie back and think of Ealing.

Wednesday
Jun152011

I am in LA

Blimey this is a big place, it's going to take a whole day just to run out of it.

I have just woken up after a 10 hour sleep after a fairly painless flight from the UK. 10.5 hour on a plane is never pleasant but it was OK as I got to sit upstairs and near the window so had a fair bit of space. I got cramp on the plane though and came off feeling like all of my legs were not working. I was a bit dissappointed that we did not fly over the US much, when we went to Vegas the plane goes right through and I can see a lot of it. This time it was mostly through Canada until it swooped down through the NW states. Probably just as well I didn't look at it too much.

I didn't go into detail about the "purpose of your visit" thing when asked that several times by passport control.

It's 5am here, better get used to that, it's still dark and I am staring at where the sun should come up from but there is no sign of it yet. Not much yet to report other than the quite sickly feeling I am getting that this thing now feels like it's really going to happen.

Later today I will go to a race breifing at the Huntington Beach Hotel where we are all based and I will get to meet the other runners for the first time. Before that I am going shoe shopping for a couple more pairs of trainers.

Hopefully there will be a few drinkers in teh hotel bar tonight so that I can get to know the 16 other runners before we enter our different worlds on the same bit of highway.

Tomorrow I'll do a big shop to buy about a months worth of snacks and anything that I panic myself into buying.

I am also very pleased with this article in the Telegraph and thanks to Jol for arranging it. Hopefully I'll be able to update this every week.

Here is a list of what I have taken so far;

13 Pairs of pants

21 Pairs of Socks

22 short sleeved tops/vest (Inc 4 serpie ones and 1 fetch, most of the tops were given to me by Columbia)

6 paris of shorts

4 long sleeved tops

4 wind/shower proof jackets

waterproof trousers

3 sets of leggings

3 gloves

calf and quad compression guards

compression tights

15 state flags, 1 USA flag 1 UK flag

Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Mat

Weighing Scales

2 Small Camepacks, 1 large, 2 bottle belts

walking Poles (not for the race mind, to hobble about afterwards)

The Stick

Bowl, Cup, knife, fork, spoon

Antiseptic liquid

Sun Cream (must not forget to wear it)

Slippers

Sandals

2 sun hats, 3 buffs, 1 snood

High viz stuff and lights

Phone, US sim card and 5 phone batteries

Netbook

2 pairs of shades and 1 pair of sand-goggles

8 tubes of 3B's lube

4 pairs of Newton running shoes, 1 pair of PT1000, I will but a couple of pairs of "safe" Brooks or Asics when I am out there

Elephant strength toe nail clippers and foot cheese grater

 

 

Saturday
Jun182011

T Minus 2 - Registration

Here is some water to get you through the race briefing, it’s quite long but then after that we can drink beer.

I was immediately put at ease by Laure who is now the race director for the LANY race since Serge Girard decided to run himself. In a small room in the Regent Hotel near Huntington Beach the 16 runners and members of support crew squeezed in to listen to the race rules. Laure said that she wanted everyone to ask any questions now before they get really tired and grumpy which usually happens after day 2.

I am amazed by how big LA is. I stayed at Ruth’s last night thinking that was near the centre. It is kind of but Huntington beach was 36 miles away. On day one I’ll run for 46 miles and still be in LA. If you did that from London you’ll most likely end up in the sea. Or worse Luton.

We all introduced ourselves. I was pointed out as the only UK national and hence seconded to help out with any language problems. Laure asked if anyone could not speak English and no one responded. Then someone asked the same question in French and Japanese and quite a few did. I was unable to help there.

I didn’t say much about myself other than I am from London and it was the fault of the other Brit on the list who made me do this. Mark unfortunately is not here to confuse the Japanese with is silly Geordie accent.

One of the most memorable intros was a Japanese chap who said he took up running because his girlfriend dumped him for being fat. He got addicted and now here he is, 2 years later about to attempt a 3200 mile race.

Dave Warady came along to give us a speech. He won the race in 1992. He said to make sure that we were only running against the vast distance of the USA and not against each other as we’ll get injured. He also advised against blogging saying it was a distraction. I’m only doing this so I have something to blog about in the first place..

There was then some talk about the rules. Some things were cleared up which was good. Highlights were;

  • ·         There will be no water stations but the organisers guarantee to see every runner at least every hour and give them water and food as required
  • ·         Cut-offs stand at 3.5mph pace which means the first day is 13 hours
  • ·         From now they will talk in Kilometers only as there were no Americans and only one Brit in the race
  • ·         You are not allowed to drink beer outdoors in the states which means you can’t drink at the finish line. This was a disappointment as she really wanted everyone to have a beer at the end of each stage
  • ·         It’s going to get really hot. Next 8 days the temps are 21C, 26C, 31C, 41C, 40C, 41C, 40C 5 days food supply
  • ·         There are snakes
  • ·         There is a 140k section along a straight road with no life whatsoever
  • ·         The overall leader will run each day with a yellow number. She held up my yellow number as an example.
  • ·         We need a tent. I forgot a tent

 

One thing that struck me was the amount of food we were given. This photo shows what we will get every 5 days. About 15 cereal bars, 15 cokes, 15 porridge sachets, loaf of bread, cliff bars and hammer gels, biscuits, juice, fruit stuff, water, coffee, jam. That is probably enough to sustain such a run. I do like burgers though. 

After it was over I retired and spoke to a few people over a beer and some crisps. I spoke to Markus and Rainer who I had emailed over the last few months. I also spoke to Serge. I later went to Pizza hut with Rainer and a couple of his support crew. No one is really talking in detail about the race. Plenty of time for that later.

So it’s about 9pm here. I am off to bed and very aware that tomorrow is my last day off for a long time…

Saturday
Jun182011

T Minus 1 - Last minute faffing

I have half mastered mind over matter. If I think about a part of my body it then really really hurts. I think about my foot and all of a sudden a throbbing pain covers the whole sole. I think about my knee and it cramps up and stiffens so I can barely move it. I think about my throat and then it seems to close off and choke me. I just need to be able to do all of this in reverse. In the meantime I will try not to think about my guts spilling out.

It's now 8pm, I start running in 9.5 hours. Laurie is here now and we have just crammed her car full of stuff that we have brought from Walmart and Costco. In addition to the food I have been given I have bought some protein in the form of a 2kg sack of whey protein and 16 large bags of beef jerky. I've also got energy drinks, sweets, sausages, nuts and some other bits I randomly put in the trolley that was the size of a skip.

I have just had my last meal. A steak with mashed potato and a couple of pints of IPA. The IPA was fizzy though, why does America have to make all beer fizzy?

Anyway not much more to say other than I am pretty nervious about tomorrow. I start at 1.30 UK time and hope to do the 45 miles in around 10 hours. The weather should not be too warm.

Now I am thinking about my bowels relaxing. Gotta go....

Monday
Jun202011

Day 1 - LA to Norco 45.6 miles - First day in the new job

If this really were the first day in a new job I'd probably be in a pub right now telling all my friends how I have bitten off more than I can chew and that I probably won't last here long. I thought first days were where you were gently introduced to the co-workers and told vaguely what it is you'll be doing but that does not really matter because you can make the job your own and do what you like. Today has made the point quite starkly, this is going to be an incredibly difficult summer.

It was dark when we gathered at Huntinton Beach for the start. Laurie drove up to park the car and exposed a poor Japanese guy "mid-lubing" in the headlights. After a few photos and at least one confused local we got away, taking turns to be in the lead before Rainer cruised in front.

I settled into a relaxed pace with Alex (Beady Italian endurance Rower) and Markus Mueller. There was a huge amount of stopping and starting at the lights even though there was no one there we had to stop as jaywalking gets heavily clamped down on here and we didn't want to mess the race up. LA was not awake yet, at least for the first 10 long straight miles.

After around 7 LA started to wake up, burger joints and coffee shops started their sunday hours, the freeways got really busy with fast cars. There was the odd exchange with locals as to "where are you running to?" The answer is quite swift "New York" and met with responses ranging from "Awesome" to "F**k".

I had to sit down several times to stretch my groin out, I don't normally worry too much about this as it happens in most races and usually clears after about 30 miles. However if this is going to happen on the first 30 miles of every day I am going to spend much of this summer in pain. I was hoping either for it to just go away or for other things to start hurting more so that I didn't think about it anymore.

Half way took a long time coming. LA is so huge. It goes from being industrial to commercial to residential then back to industrial again. Some of the crossings were very confusing and sometimes you have to cross 3 roads to get on the other side of one road as there was no crossing there.

Around the marathon point we got onto a cycle lane which was busy with cyclists often asking us what we were doing. It looks like a road, cyclists seem to have more luxury over here than in London as these are miles and miles of unbroken cycle roads. I was pretty much on my own now though I got overtaken By Serge and Jenni at this point. From then I didn't see anyone again.

Around 35 miles in we were back in the industrial areas though quite hi-tech stuff. Away from the massive oil refineries on the coast. Ruth had come out to support as well and was getting along with Laurie as I was meeting them every 2 or 3 miles or so. Towards the end there were plenty of turns which they always made sure they were at so that I would not go wrong.

BEHOLD - a blister on my little toe. It was a welcome distraction from my groin strain though a little annoying. I've never really had to deal with them. I was hopeless in the other multi days I have done and in long races I just carry on as normal.

It got much hotter as I entered Norco, a funny town made for horses. My "plan" of 10 hours looked to be coming in way under so I slowed considerably and walked a fair bit of the last 7 miles. This was fine in the heat of the day for me, I was feeling a little dehydrated and light headed.

I passed a prison where you could see through the fence and see the prisoners at play time (or whatever it is called). Glad I am this side of the fence.

I finished in 9.36, under my target but not so much so that I feel spanked. Rainer came in under 7 hours and the group of Alex, Jenni, Serge did around 8.44.

I am glad I had plenty of time afterwards to skype, eat, blog, upload photos, drink beer, swim and stretch. I fear I will not have this luxury every day.

So that was an "average" day. I'd take sub ten for every average day going. Tomorrow is a little longer, much hotter and uphill.

Stuff - I am trying to take some notes of each day like this.

Start Weight End Weight [Forgot to get the scales out - I'll start tomorrow]

Miles  45.6 Time 9.36

Consumption Approx: 1 coffee, 3L Gatorade, 4L water, 1 coke, 1 Monster 500ml, 2 Natural grain bars, 2 cliff peanut butter cake things, 1 large bag of beef jerky (88g protien in total), 100g Cashews, handfuls of jelly beans. AFTER - 1 bottle of Sierra Nevade Pale Ale, 1 Fat Tyre Beer, can of coke, 2l water, 500ml gatorade, Calimari starter (about twice the size of an English starter), lamb kebab and bread.

Kit: Serpie top, Kathmandu Shorts, Nike compression pants, Kalanji Socks, Asics Glycerin, Buff, Visor, Shades, Camelpack

Injuries: Contant groin aches though it improved towards the end, the usual achillies tightness, headache after about 20 miles (probably from drinking nothing but coffee and beer for the week before), Left hip pain.

Tuesday
Jun212011

Day 2 - Norco to Hesperia 48.9 miles. Harder but better

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, the aches and pains I had at the start of yesterday could well have gone away. I was wide awake by 4 again. I had a really good sleep, pretty much from 8-12 then 12-4. I’ll settle for that each day. There was a lot of this

Today we were warned that a long and hard day was coming. There were hills, off-road sections and the start of some proper heat.

The first 15 miles or so were infuriating for all. Monday morning in a suburb of LA was jammed with heavy goods vehicles and we had to wait at every intersection. While we were all trying to get a bit of momentum going to ease out our stiff legs we had to stop-start-stop-start-stop and sometimes have to wait several minutes. Doing 14 minute miles is nothing I am too worried about but spending 4 of them stood at an intersection waiting for a white man letting us cross was very frustrating.

America is a place that was not built for pedestrians but gives them a free reign over everywhere. I think (I got this from QI) that there is only one road in the whole USA that a pedestrian is not allowed to go on and that is in Michigan, way off from where we are going. A man can run anywhere but much of the time he will have to share the way with 40 tonne trucks. Often there are no pavements (sorry “sidewalks”), the crossings (nay “intersections”) have you running round in circles for a 5 second crossing interval and the general view of the road users is that you should only really venture out when encased in at least 2 tonnes of steel. 

Around 15 miles in we hit better roads but still had the scourge of the intersections. I tried not to let it frustrate me as I was feeling a whole lot better than I did yesterday. After 15 miles yesterday I feared that my legs were going to fall off sideways but today that had all disappeared. All I had were the usual minor aches from having run 45 miles yesterday, nothing much to worry about.

Around 20 miles in we were out of the towns and headed straight for some impressive looking mountains. Impressive enough to be hidden from me completely until I was right there on Base Street (They don’t mess around with the names of stuff here, like the Australians). For the first time since I have been here I felt like I was running into the wilderness.

There were no houses, the occasional farm, a railway with trains a mile long and about 4 highway underpasses between Base Street and the base of the mountains. I was really looking forward to getting up the pass that would see us climb about 1000m in the heat of the day.

I had to stop at a petrol (gas; damn it) station and on emerging I spoke to a guy asking what I was doing. I am surprised that people know exactly how far New York is away, I don’t think that’s the case when I run from Birmingham to London. “That’s like 3000 miles?” – Pretty much, give or take a Spartathlon.

Laurie and Ruth were amazing again today, making sure I made every turn and giving me all the stuff that I’d probably forget to take if they were not there. Laurie bought a water pistol from somewhere and attacked me just before we hit route 66. On doing so a lady stopped and warned us about rattle snakes. She was not wrong, within a few meters I saw a dead one on the path. They are going to be in the shade at this point.

I was running in a valley, about the 32 mile mark and for the first time I considered myself retracing the footsteps of the bunioneers in 1928. Not many cars come down here now, there are cracks in the road with weeds growing out of them. The rising heat of the day and the valleys made this a large oven though it was no way near as hot as we are going to experience in a few days, or even later that day.

I ran much of this section with Alex who I think was suffering the heat. In fact not long earlier I passed Yoshiaki who had finished second yesterday but was talking about how hot it was already.

There was a section of about 1k where we had to run (walk/hobble/climb) on a dry river bed as it was the only way of getting under lots of freeways (Didn’t say motorways). ON emerging from that Laurie texted me to say that she had missed an exit on the freeway and was going to meet me a bit later. I only noticed at this point that I had no water left. Fortunately as I discovered this I saw the wonderful golden arches of McDonalds and thought I had to go in. No really I had to. Large fries and Large coke were a treat.

It was probably getting over 30C when the hardest section of the stage appeared. After the McDonalds stop (WHICH WAS ESSENTIAL) There was a 2 mile section up a windy road. It was another one of those where I could not decide whether it was up or flat just like in Badwater. I guess with your head down everything looks uphill.

It took a long time walking those two miles where there was one of the organising team there diverting us onto a trail. This too was uphill and really felt like going into the wilderness.

The only “injury” that I suffered most of the day was that annoying blister on my little toe. I probably should have dealt with it sooner. This started to hurt a bit and I called ahead for Laurie to get the kit out and lance the little bastard.

The off-road section up hill was amazing but really hard. There were LANY flour signs in many places but the heat getting to my head made me paranoid about whether I was still on the right track. That’s when you start doing the doomsday calulations. If I go 2 miles out into nothing and then have to go back will I still make the cut offs? Or more trivially If I go out for miles and can’t find my way back then will I die? If I lie down in a bush will I get bitten by a rattlesnake?

After much doom-mongering I saw Ruth at the head of the pass and was very relieved that was all over. A small descent and then a 10 minute lay down to sort the blister out. In doing so Laurie poked at a part of my foot and said “Is this not bothering you?” There was not feeling at all. “OK then, lets pretend I didn’t mention it”.

Most of the “3 parks to go” were flat or down, right next to a busy interstate (I call in that, I have no idea, might have been a freeway, or a highway, or a route). I was feeling really good about everything. The finish line was inside the hotel where there was ice-cream, beer and coke. Lovely.

So all in all today felt much better. New York is only 49 miles closer but in my head it feels twice as achievable compared to yesterday. I feel in good spirits and hence I have been able to bang out 1300 words of a blog in no time. I suspect that some of the detail may suffer as I get really tired. Get used to “Ran a long way, feel buggered. Saw a lizard” being the standard in some days.

Tomorrow, slightly shorter, mostly flat or down, not many stupid traffic lights, however this is where we enter the desert. Today’s heat just won’t compare.

 

Boring stuff

Start Weight 84.1 KG End weight 83.8KG

Consumption during running – 6L Water, 3L Gatorade, 2 Cokes, 1 Large fries, 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, Nuts, Sweets, 2 “Slim Jims” pepparami things, half a pack of beef jerky,  AFTER – 1 coke, 1 ice cream, burger and chips, milk shake [not nearly enough eaten today, probably the heat]

Stats – 1000m climb from end to start, dunno how much up and down total but felt like a lot. Max temperature was recorded at about 35C

Injuries – None. Started off with the usually aches but they went away and groin was not there at all. Little annoying blister, slight sunburn.

Wednesday
Jun222011

Day 3 - Hesperia to Barstow - 47.4 miles - Into the Desert

Today was going to be easier and harder. We would not have to deal with the hills and off-road sections of the previous nor would we have to be interupted by intersections every half mile but today we would have to make up for that in heat.

I didn't sleep that well. The usual 5.30 start, 13 runners now as word got out that Philippe had dropped out the previous day with cramp. Two more runners suffered a lot of vomiting and heat exhaustion from a day that was hot but no way near as hellish as it is going to get. Today we were going to march into that hell.

It was warm to start off with as the sun came over the mountains from the east. We were running parallel to those mountains along 10 miles of road and highway watching the sun creep up from behind the valley it likes to scorch every day. The first 10 were easy though I had to stop a couple of times and use the great outdoors. 

At the 11 mile point we were warned that we would see the last gas station before the end so if our crews were low then they should fill up here. The level of detail given to the runners and crew about the 3200 mile route is phenomenal and Laure and the team should be commended for such an amazing show. She was not wrong, soon after we were running on the "National Trail Highway", I think part of Route 66, into the Mojave Desert.

On leaving the city and heading into the desert every small business has Mojave in the title. Mojave Donuts, Mojave Tattooist, Mojave and Sons Litigation Services. Once in there however I expect to be greeted with a rusty barn with "General Store" written on it.

We started down the highway, I settled into my usual group with Alex somewhere in front and Jenni nearby. The sun was to my right burning through the right side of my face. My head felt sore despite lots of water and wet toweling.

My feet were still good, little toe blister did not really make a noise. Legs tighter than the previous day but eased out after a few miles. Groin strain again was non-existent. Maybe it was all in my head. Well they do say that a man's brain is in his....

There were not that many route descriptions today, previous days had "turn here" "Cross there" every mile or so whereas today was something like "Pass railway underpass at 16.7 miles" then "See sign for town at 31.2 miles". Since I was not using a Garmin I had no idea how far I had gone really.

I have a watch that allegedly give you stuff like temperature, altitude, pressure, weather forecast as well as being able to tell the time. It does the last thing very well but the others are not so good. The thermometer is against the skin. It's useless to tell the air temp but I have found it useful to look at how it increases and decreases according to how much I work and what the actual temperature is. Essentially it was measuring my skin temperature and was quite interesting. It rose during the day steadily from 35 to 40C. When I ran it was higher, going uphill it was higher. Kind of like a heart rate monitor. Not that I am becoming one of them :)

Around halfway there was a derelict building that was the first bit of shade we saw for about 10 miles. It became an inpromptu cafe with at least 5 runners and their crew stopping under the shade for lunch. I had a lovely ham and cheese sandwich that was toasted on one side because it was left outside for about 30 seconds. I could have just stayed there all day.

I saw that Jenni and Girard were starting to suffer and fell behind me quite a way. They both have finished ahead of me in the previous 2 days as has Alex and by sticking near them I knew I was doing a reasonable but not excessive pace. The roads are still deceptive and it's hard to tell up from down. 

Every 2-3 miles Laurie was stopping to give me a gatorade which I always downed and a spray of ice cold water. Within minutes everything was dry again. There were only a few moments where I felt weak and dizzy, I was holding up quite well. The highest recorded temperature came from the Italian supporters of Alex who said it was 42C. It got to about 40 at 11am and stayed there pretty much.

It's not just the heat though, there was a warm dry wind drying out any moisture on your body. I don't recall feeling sweaty at all even though I was going through loads of water, it just dries right off your skin. There is dust in the air too that gets down your throat leaving it dry and giving an unquentable thirst. There is some relief when a large lorry drives close to you and gives you a cool sidewind though often I found myself getting angry at a truck that blown my hat off. Hardly their fault.

I got to know Alex a little better in the last 15 miles or so. He says he is not an experiences ultra runner (MDS, Twice run across Alaska), he is a national hero in endurance rowing, having rowed 10 months solid on his own. He is a really nice guy and his team are a joy to be around. When I am no longer supported I may well stick near Alex just to keep my spirits up.

On the subject of support crews, I had a gap in my first 2 weeks which might now be filled. Gemma contacted a Fetchie Leslie who lives *nearby* who mentioned wanted to come and see the race. Gemma managed to ask her if she could crew for 2 days while I have the gap. That news was so awesome I just started running quite fast, forgetting that is was up a bloody great big hill and in 40 degree heat.

The last 10 miles were quite interesting. Through a small town and then into Barstow which seemed endless. Every shop seems to be something to do with tow-trucks like these people are obsessed with dragging stuff about in the desert. Most of todays run was alongside a busy railway line with trains a mile long creeping past. Laurie counted 106 carriages on one of them.

I walked much of the last few miles as per "the plan". A lot of it was uphill anyway so it didn't matter and I knew I was doing well today as I could still see Alex ahead. I tried to stretch on a lamp post near the end and burnt my hands. The Sun really does own this place.

Pleased again with today and that I don't feel to tired though I will do less faffing today and try to be in bed by 8. Tomorrow is going to be really tough. 51 miles and all in the scorching desert. Don't expect many words from me tomorrow.

Boring Stats

Distance 47.4 miles Time 10.55

Start Weight 84.5KG Finish Weight 82.5KG

Consumption DURING - 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, some nuts, some jerky, some sweets, 2 bananas (fruit?? going soft I think), 4l gatorade, 10l water, 2 cans of monster (really kicked me up the arse) AFTER - 3 plates of chinese buffet and about 1.5l of raspberry iced tea

Kit Newtons, Karimoor socks, columbia short sleeved top, North Face sun hat, shades, Kooga pants, kathmandu shorts, camelpack and 3l bladder

Route 

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/38307310

Saturday
Jun252011

Day 4 - Barstow to Ludlow 50.9 Miles - When going through hell keep going

I finished today feeling pretty chuffed with myself for getting finished in a decent time and not feeling too bad at the end of it. It was at some points 44C with warm wind and some morale breaking straight roads. I managed to finish within the 12 hours needed to be able to go to the only café in town before it closes and have a huge steak and eggs. On returning to the motel I was greeted by the sad news that 3 runners had dropped out of today. It was an incredibly hot 51 miles of road running we all had to suffer today and I suffered too but it appears not as much as others.

Only 4 days into the run and it is now light when we start. I don’t know whether that is the 4 days difference or the 140 miles we have moved east but it is clear now that we are not going to be able to enjoy any more “easy cool” miles while the sun is still coming up. Today was the first time when I was beaten by my alarm to wake up, usually I was awake and buzzing before 4.30 but today I really could have done with the extra sleep. I am not sleeping that well.

We were still on the old route 66 which the romans would have been proud of because this was as straight as any I have seen. I think that was probably a good thing, I know with the sun beating down on your head you start to fear what is round the corner. My brain makes monsters out of roadside furniture.

The start was the usual. Laure (race director) asked us all what we wanted to do tomorrow in terms of start time, Tomorrow is only 28 miles and she thought we could start later and get a nicer breakfast. The majority wanted to start early and avoid the heat and miss breakfast. Only one person put food before avoiding heat exposure. Stupid Brit.

On setting off my legs were sore again but I know the first few miles are tough. Early on we went through a Marine Corps base and they even laid on a water stop for us. On emerging from that we set along down the long straight road.

I was behind Serge who is the most experienced runner here. This whole event was his doing and he has run across the 5 non-ice continents already. Normally he starts slow and takes over most along the way and normally passes me around half way. He told me off for “breaking the code” when I mentioned to a passer by that we were running to New York. On overtaking him I said I’ll see him at half way.

For the first half I didn’t really feel the heat though I knew it was there. They say that the moment you stop feeling the heat is the point where it has got you. I felt comfortable in the mid thirties.Do you reckon Westaway will bar me if I put this on the e group?

Early on there were a few abandoned gas stations where crews gathered in the shade to support their runners. Laurie mentioned that you can guess the date that the gas station closed by the price of the gas on the sign. Rainer yesterday saw one that said $1 a gallon. This one said $3 whereas now in the US it’s about $4. [In the UK it’s about $11 but at least none of our towns are more than a good days run from each other].

The people I normally run with were behind me today. Alex, Jenni and Markus seemed to be going slower. There is no reason why I should be any good in the heat given that my desert experience is only 2 races and most people hear have done months of that stuff. I didn’t do any acclimatisation and only went to one bikram yoga session before coming out here. I was a prime target for a slow roasting in the Mojave desert.

But I covered up well, put on the sun spray, drank lots, iced lots and kept up with the salts. When the sun was in front of me I felt a burning in my right eye which impaired my vision for some of the race. Today I wore long sleeves which was a great move, my skin temperature was lower than yesterday even though the temperature was higher.

I had a scare early on, what felt like shin splints on my left and metatarsal on my right started to plague me. My shoes did not feel right, they were old and worn and I have run 2 long days in them and realised that even shoes need recovery days. On swapping them for new ones that all went away. Phew.

Just before the halfway point there was the famous “Baghdad Café” which I went in and Laurie ordered me some fries. I went inside and looked around, it was wonderful, a proper retro diner in the middle of the desert. I could stay there a while.

Around half way I started to think about what I would normally be doing now. Back home I’d be going out for a short 7 mile run around the London Parks with my running club and then heading to the pub. IN fact often I don’t even bother with the run I just drink wine in the clubroom and watch peoples bags then go to the pub. I can’t remember the last time I missed a Wednesday night in the pub, it may have been Badwater a year ago. Wednesday nights are going to be a big thing I’ll miss over here.

My plan today was to go steady but not to stop if possible. I didn’t relish staying out in this anymore than is necessary and hours can be added on to your times by stopping for 10 minutes every few miles. I tried to think of the best ultra running quote ever from Winston Churchill (though he probably did not intend it to be about running, probably the opposite). “When going through hell – KEEP GOING”.

My mind wondered lots. I saw an advert for a place to rent which was basically just a shed.  I imagined trying to write an ad for it to post onto our running club message board. Cheap, cheerful and small place, ideal for cyclists who don’t like steering.

The roads looked like they were covered in water by the glare of the sun and the straightness messed with my head. Laurie would drive on 2 miles at a time and then spray me with ice cold water which gives relief for about 2 minutes before my clothes become bone dry again. She would then drive past and pull over again and I’d wonder why she pulled over so soon? Then having run for 20 minutes and saw the car get no nearer I realised that she had not pulled over too soon at all. These straight hot roads are mentally tormenting.

The rare sight of a building was usually met by the barking of a dog then then a chase. It sure can get the adrenaline going when a dog takes an interest in you. It’s clear that they are not going to bite or anything but you do wonder what you’ll be able to do in the event that it craved the juiciness of your slow roasted calfs.

I stuck to the plan well and the miles seemed to peel off quite consistently. After around 30 miles I Laurie and I were alone doing the car-runner shuffle along the desert. Rainer and Patrick were far ahead and the others were a way behind. I didn’t expect to be the 3rd placed runner for the stage and was still surprised that I seemed to be taking the heat better than the others.

11 miles to go there was a train crossing. We were always running alongside a busy interstate (the I40 I think) and a busy railroad with at least a train every 10 minutes with 50+ stock. Halfway in between crossing the railway the barriers came down, shutting me in with a train coming. They don’t mess about here, not like in the UK where the shutter goes down 5 minutes before anything is even near. It’s get out of my way in 10 seconds or become vulture food.

I managed that obviously and then headed over the interstate road where the desert looks a different shade of yellow. It was mostly downhill for the rest (the day was pretty flat) and in the distance you could see the small town of Ludlow. Around 6 miles from the end I think the heat finally got me. I was running no problem then just felt a wave of dizziness which nearly floored me. On next seeing Laurie who was driving along 2 miles at a time I had to lie down. Strange that so close to the end I’d get walloped like that but it was 44C and I had been out in it for 11 hours. Suprisingly I was still on for the sub 12 that would earn me a steak dinner.

I had to lie down for about 10 minutes and cool my head. The sun was right above us so there was no possibility of shade. I lay there with a wet cloth on my head while Laurie sprayed more water on me. I felt right as rain after that and found I could run again.

With about 2 miles to go I saw Patrick in front, I was amazed that I was anywhere near him and he appeared to be walking and his wife/crew was driving and stopping every few hundred meters. I got closer and closer and he started running again. It was not my intention to catch him as I always planned on walking the last mile anyway which I did.

Just before finishing I was passed be Anneke on the bike who is usually cycling near Jenni. She said “I have so much respect for you today” which was really nice to hear and I could not help but laugh. Jenni was unfortunately one of those who did not make it today along with 2 of the Japanese guys (whose names I should really remember). I finished in 11.40, 50 minutes to spare for steak. I was asked what drink I wanted at the end, “Budwieser or Water”? “Are they not the same thing”? I replied.

Today was always billed as the hardest of the first week. It was the longest distance and in constant heat. Tomorrow is only 28 miles and the next 2 days are about 40.  I am really pleased to report that I had a really good run, don’t feel injured or too knackered and that by noon tomorrow I should have my feet up again.

Later on I went back to the finish area after a great steak and chips to watch some of the others come through. Alex had a rough day and finished a few hours after me as did Markus who came in just before the 15 hour cut-off. The older Japanese guy (I could just go into my bag and get the book and know his name but I am exhausted) stumbled in walking sideways. Girard came in over the cut-off but is allowed to carry on regardless as today was so difficult. The desert claimed 3 victims today. There is another 10 days of this thought at least tomorrow is only 28 miles.

PS The comments I have been getting on the blog are a joy to read each morning. I am sorry that I have not replied personally to most but please keep them coming. Glad you are enjoying the blog.

Boring Stuff

Weight – Forgot again.

Consumption – DURING 2 ham and cheese sandwiches, fries from Bahgdad café, 4 hammer energy gels, 1 cliff bar, 1 can of coke, 6l Gatorade, 12l water, Some nuts. Shit not much really.

After – Melon, 2 glasses of tomato juice, large steak, eggs and home fries (burnt circles of potato), Bud, large fatty milkshake

KIT – North Face long sleeved white top, NF hat, shades, Kathmandu shorts, kooga pants, Old Newtons replaces by New Newtons, Camelpack

Injuries/Issues – Early scare with the potential shin splint but that was nothing really. Right eye hurt in the glare. Legs were sunburned. One of my hernia op keyholes burst. No blisters.

 

Saturday
Jun252011

Day 5 - Ludlow to Amboy 28.3 miles - Half Day

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the pioneers who first come through the Mojave desert. There is nothing here and that includes the small town of Ludlow. I feel so cut off from the world in a place that has no internet and did not even have a phone line until 1988. There is a café open till 6pm, a gas station and a Dairy Queen which does the best milkshakes in the USA apparently. I can’t see any houses here, the motel is very basic. This is basically a truck stop between more interesting places 100s of miles away.

The route description today was almost not worth it, there were no turns in the whole 28 miles. I always thought a fast marathon course would be one with no corners (though oddly one would not count for a world record under AIMS standards as the max distance between the start and the finish must be 16 miles). I asked Rainer whether he was going for a 3 hour marathon today.

We were again warned that there is nothing between the start and the finish. Essentially now we are running from gas station to gas station. There is an occasional railroad crossing but really just vast miles of nothing.

The first part of my day was consumed with trying to contact Orange about unlocking my phone so I can use a USA sim card. I spoke to someone who didn’t seem to understand that I had already paid for it to be done over 2 weeks ago and it was supposed to have been done by now. Early on in the race I got a call from someone asking what I wanted again and suggested I contact someone else. I screamed at him to contact them for me and he put me on hold while I was trying to run. It still has not been resolved and I am paying stupid amounts for US call charges. I don’t want to moan as it brings me down from an otherwise fantastic experience but if anyone from Orange is out there reading this, you suck.

It was clear from the start that those who struggled yesterday were going to suffer again today. Alex, Markus, Jenni (who did not finish yesterday but will continue anyhow) and Bando started slowly whereas Serge, Italo (who consumed 28 cans of coke yesterday, counted by the organisers), Patrick and I formed the lead group. Rainer as always stuck around for a couple of miles then shot off.

It was hotter than at the same times yesterday, even 7am felt stifling. Yesterday at sunset as we were watching the last runners come in the mercury was still at 39. It was clear that it was going to go over what we had yesterday but at least we were not going to be out in it much. The road gets very bumpy at points which is hard to run on but with so little traffic on it you can run in the middle most times. There is no reason for coming down this road anymore other than for nostalgia.

I was feeling good again with no injuries and making good progress. I was determined not to sit down and faff around at any point today, just move forward at a sustainable pace and get it done in time have a proper lunch. Most of the first half I was running near Patrick and worried I might be going too fast. Then I caught up with Rainer and thought I really must be going too fast but he looked like he was suffering today more than any other. Not that I know as he’s usually showered, changed and eaten before I finish each day.

Rainer was sat on the back of his crew’s van and I joined him for a minute and chatted. His supporter June takes millions of photos of everything and was getting the rare photo of Rainer next to another runner.

Rainer and I ran together for a bit, I was happy to walk more using others as a benchmark as to how fast I should be going. Patrick disappeared into the distance as Rainer and I walked up to a thing such as a bridge or a tree (yes there was a tree) and started running again. With about 10k to go he decided to walk again and I ran on instead.

Somehow I managed to miss a massive geographical feature. The road book said 24.4 miles there was a sign to the Amboy crater but I missed it. It was only when we were driving back that I saw the sign to the Ambrose crater, pointing to a f****g enormous crater.

Serge caught me up with about 2 miles to go, I complained that he was late and he should have been here 10 miles ago. We laughed and agreed to finish together and spoke about how the race was unfolding.

I’m not sure why a pasty white Brit who lives in rainy London seems to be handling the weather better than most. Since we have started my finish positions have been 9, 7, 5, 3, 2. I feel more tired and achy each day and feel myself going a little slower and taking it easier but it seems that others are flagging more. There is still a long long way to go though. 5 days into 70 does not mean a lot.

The finish in Amboy was under the town’s only tree next to the town’s only café which was closed. Laure had a cooler and asked whether I’d like the “American water” as she handed me a Bud. The finish area is always a great gathering of organisers and support crew of other finishers racing around to tend to your every need. There were guys spraying me with cold water, Laure giving me beer, Anneke handing me crisps (chips) and Laurie putting a wet towel on my head. I felt like an F1 driver in a pit stop.

While I have a bit of time today I thought I’d write a bit about how all this “works”.

Each morning we usually leave from the motel where the start line is (sometimes there is travel involved). At 5.15 there is a race briefing where Laure will remind us of some of the rules that may have been infringed yesterday and to warn us of any particular hazards of today such as lack of sidewalks or snakes.

At 5.30 we all head off and each runner for now has a support car. Most runner have only one supporter, others have more and a couple have 1 between them. In the hellish temperatures of the desert the car will drive on about a mile and stop and spray the runner and give them drink/food etc.

Gas stations here sell ice which is used to fill ice chests so that cold drinks can be carried in the car. A bag of ice for me lasts about 12 hours in these temperatures. I put it into my camelpack, on my head and in some drinks.

Everyone helps each other and as the runners spread out so do the crew. All crews always offer to spray anyone with water and give them anything they need to get through the day.

Crew will typically go to any turnings (I can’t even remember the last corner I saw) so that their runner does not get lost. Phone signal is generally ok (AT&T give better reception in the middle of the desert than Orange do in Ealing. Sorry I said I’ll stop moaning), and most runners will carry a phone with them.

It is essential for the crew person to try and force the runner to do the correct things. The heat suppresses ones appetite and you need to be reminded, and then forced to eat something.

At the end of the stage Laurie will get my “daybag” which has the stuff I need for the next few hours such as changes of clothes, laptop etc. At some point Laurie will go out for a run for about an hour in the hot temperature of wherever we are.

Later in the day we eat wherever and however is possible (some places have nothing) and faff around with what is needed for the next day. I rinse my clothes out and hang them outside where they take about 5 minutes to dry and get the clothes I need for the next day. I spend about an hour blogging and faffing around on facebook. Normally I try to be in bed by 8.30 so to get 8 hours of lying down at least.

Then I spend hours lying back and thinking about running along very hot straight roads. Living the dream..

Boring Stuff Patrick, Serge and I

Start weight 82.5kg finish weight 81.1kg

Consuption During – Ham and cheese sandwich, 1 cliff car, 2 hammer gels, some nuts, 6l Gatorade, 6l water AFTER – Large ice cream, Bud, Coke, ham and chips, iced tea, burger and fries, 2l water.

Kit – Newtons, NF hat, shades, Gore undershorts, Kathmandu shorts, NF white longsleeves (this is a perfect top for this kind of running), camelpack, kalenji socks.

Injuries – None. Embarassing really.

 

Saturday
Jun252011

Day 6 - Amboy to Fenner - 39.7 miles - Straightforward

As we started today Alex said to me “James you are from London and so you should run like a penguin but instead you run like a Kenyan”. I am confident that this is the first and last time my running will be compared to a Kenyan, I am also confident that it’s not the last time it will be compared to a Penguin.

Alex’s point and one made by many others in the organisation and race was that no one quite understood why the British guy from rainy London seemed to be resistant to the heat. This certainly is not true as I suffer the heat just like anyone else but my finish times recently have not reflected that.

Today was almost “back to work”, 40 miles is less than we should cover in an average day but the 40C+ temperatures would make up for that. Most people finished yesterday in good time to have a good rest, a proper meal and banter around the motel before bedtime.

I slept terribly, maybe because yesterday was easy. I never felt like nodding off. I could easily sleep halfway through any day of running, every time I pass some shady area I think about getting the sleep mat out and curling up for a few hours. Once the battle is over however I seem to be wide awake, as I am now writing this at 9pm when I have to be up at 4am for a drive to tomorrows start.

I think everyone was a bit stronger today for the relative rest of yesterday. We all looked like we could move along fine for the first few miles again. I settled into my “new” group of being a little behind Patrick and a little ahead of Serge who always catches me near the end anyway. Rainer was back on form and disappeared into the distance.

Today was another straight road bore, about 15 miles along, a curve, another 20 miles then a turning. Finish at a gas station. Shoe Grave

There was some early excitement though. A long climb which I walked and then a vulture (or do they call them buzzards here?) started circling above me. I don’t think I was the most likely to drop dead but I suspect I am the meatiest.

This was the first day in the desert where I felt like we got some “easy miles” in at the start. The sun didn’t seem to want to bother today and I was halfway before I got into the run-overheat-walk-spray-run routine. I said it’s not to warm to Alex’s crew and they shouted at me for saying it out loud. It still did get up to 40 but higher up there was a gentle breeze which helped.

Laurie was amazing again, stopping every 2 miles to make sure I had water and was cool. She commented that I never run off without say “thank you”. She spoke on the phone to Lesley today who will be taking over crewing for the next two days with Dave.

It did eventually get hot though not until I had broken the back of the stage. Patrick and Italo were way in front and I had no intention of keeping up with them. There wa was a lot more traffic on the road which meant I could not just jog in the middle like I had been doing yesterday.

All in all today has been quite unremarkable in terms of running. Does not make for great blogging (sorry) but I am quite happy with a day of steady paced running (I got to half way just over 4 hours and finished in 8.33 with some walking at the end). I am starting to feel adjusted to this now. I can’t imagine getting more than 5 hours sleep in the next 2 months on any night. I think I am locked in now.

Today however did end with a really sad farewell to Laurie. The organisers, other runners and crew have loved having her around as she is awesome company. She helps translate my English-English to American-English so that all those who speak German-English, French-English and Italian-English can understand.

I met Laurie last year when she agreed to crew me for Badwater. She took all of the worry away from me and lets me just concentrate on the running. I don’t even know how she does what she does but for 6 days and about 250 miles she must have made over 100 stops to give me exactly what I needed even when I didn’t know what I wanted. I am going to miss her dearly for the rest of the desert and the rest of this race. Thanks Laurie. You are AWESOME J

 

Boring Stuff

Weight Before 82.5kg after 81.5kg.

Food – During – coffee and chicken sandwich, 6l Gatorade, 2 cans monster, 6l water, 4 hammer gels, cliff bar, ham and cheese sandwich, AFTER – Chinese beef, 3 beers, coke, 2 cans iced tea, large bag of Cheetos

Kit – Newtons, NF Long top, Kathmandu Shorts, koga undershorts, shades, nf hat, camelpack

Injuries – left achillies ached a bit near the end but otherwise none.

Orange update – 3rd email sent, no calls back. Phone still not unlocked. Twats. 

Monday
Jun272011

Day 7 - Fenner to Needles - 39.3 miles

It was about a year ago when I first heard about this race. My friend Mark Cockbain told me he was doing it, seemed like the natural progression for someone of his vast experience. 3200 miles from Los Angeles to New York. Maybe when I am over 40.

But there was another race advertised to run alongside the LANY race, The Los Angeles to Las Vegas race. Following the same course as the LANY runners I could run 300 miles in a week in the Mojave heat. That sounded great. I’d be able to do a pretty hardcore week of running and get to meet the runners who were going on the amazing trek to the East coast. I suggested this to Mark, thinking he would be welcome of the company and his reply was;

“Don’t be such a pussy, do the whole thing”.

I say this now because if I had done the shorter race (which in the end did not happen and the route was diverted from LV to Needles) I would have finished it today. Nearly 300 miles in a week is more than I have ever run before. Instead somehow I find myself only 10% of the way through.

Mark unfortunately could not start the race with injuries, this was a tragedy for me and a million times more for him. His pussy comment though felt like an acknowledgement that I could actually do something like this, I could actually run across the United States of America.

From that moment it never left my head and I am thankful that I am able to give this a go. Compared to all the other runners here I am the baby. Sure I have completed some of the so called “toughest races” such as the Spartathlon, Badwater, UTMB etc but have never done a stage race of more than 300k or more than 7 days. Most of the other competitors have run across continents before (or in Alex’s case rowed across oceans).  There is nothing to say that I am capable of running 3200 miles in 70 days before coming here, but now a week in there is nothing to say that I can’t.

Last night was probably the worst nights sleep since I have been here. The air con in the worst motel I have been to yet does not work very well and even at 10pm I did not feel like sleeping. I was in Needles and it was still blisteringly hit.

And I had to get up even earlier than normal, 3.45 to meet my new crew and for us to drive 30 minutes to the start in Fenner. Lesley and Dave were there on the dot outside my room at 4 ready to load the car with the stuff I would need today. We were staying in the same motel again tonight (good because I don’t have to pack all my stuff up, bad because as I just said this is the worst motel I have been to yet). I gave them a tray of stuff, we filled it with ice and we were on the way.

The start was the same as the previous 6 days except that I was startled by Italu when he yelled my name and hello to me while crouched down having a crap in the bushes. Not sure why he would want to draw my attention to that. Must be a Sarnidian thing.

Crouching down in the bushes was something I was going to be doing a lot of myself today. I had a spicy chinese last night and was regretting it for much of the day. We are told to use the bathroom (or as Laure likes to call it “make pe-pe”) far away from the road just in case we are caught. There usually a few bushes to go behind but most of them are surrounded by holes. I have no idea what are down those holes and don’t really want to make too many vibrations around them.

The first stop by my new crew was great except they could not find the Gatorade powder. The orange tin I had put in there this morning was some vitamin drink that I bought. Doh. This is what happens when I try to organise myself. They has to drive back to Fenner to stock up from the store.

There was not much climbing today in comparison to yesterday. When there was a small climb I did what anyone should be expected to. I called Orange to try to sort my phone out again.

[Moan alert] – I got through the options and was speaking to someone who obviously had no idea what my problem was (3 emails, 3 calls, the original request and payment for the unlocking seem not to be on his system) and he put me on hold promising that it would not take long. It’s hard to describe that I can’t really talk because I am running through a desert. Anyway, after too long on hold I hung up hoping for a call back but alas no I got no call all day. A chap back home has tried to help me out (Thanks Julian) who has emailed someone at Orange. I think other people have too and it’s quite touching that others are out there trying to help me out on this. I am actually now finding it quite funny (though probably not when the Orange bill arrives) and hope that at some point someone from Orange might just feel embarrassed enough to do their jobs properly and sort it.

Anyhoo, that made me think that if this is the worst of my problems then I don’t really have much to worry about do I? This made me feel much better. Thanks Orange for being useless.

[Moan over]

Rainer, Italu and Patrick went up ahead as usual and Alex seemed to be running in the front pack today too. It was great to see him having a better day.  I passed him around halfway while he was sat with his feet in ice water.

Lesley and David picked up the crewing brilliantly today. They have a license plate “WHYIMAN” which makes me laugh every time it passes me. They were incredibly kind to drive this way and help me out for these two days. They had a Union Jack flying and a parasol to shade me when I stopped, not that I stopped too much today.

Today felt like a funny one. There were no injuries or any concerns yet my legs just didn’t feel like moving along today. I don’t think I am eating enough when out there on the run. I assumed when I was going to do this I’ll have large meals when not running to replace lost energy but I simply don’t have the time or can be arsed.

I tried to keep a contant motion and didn’t go much slower than yesterday so I guess I should not consider this a “bad” day. The descent into Needles was tough though. We had to take a 6 mile section of interstate which was not too busy but listening to a lorry (sorry – “truck”) cruising along at 50mph and catching the rumble strips 3 meters away from you is a pant messing experience.

And talking of pant messing experiences I developed some chaffing today, funny how I had just commented to someone that I had not had any chaffing at all, I was being really good at lubing each day. However today with all the toiler stops I may have undone that and it hurt. That and the strong hot wind gushing up as we got closer to Needles.

From a distance Needles looks like an oasis in the desert, next to the Colorado river it looks lovely and green and peaceful. Close up it looks like that toilet from Trainspotting. It’s not a nice place.

I finished to the very welcome sight of Lesley and Dave waving the Union Jack as I strolled over the finish line in 8.45.

It was largely a good day with no more drop outs except that Markus had problems and ended up finishing way over the cut-off having had some stomach problems. He will stay in the race though as will anyone who comes in over a cut-off. It seems they are only “suggested” cut-off times J

Boring Stuff

Weight Before 83.5 After 82.5

Consumed During – Chicken sandwich, 4 gels, 6l gatoradem cliff bar, 6l water, nuts, 1 ham and cheese sandwich AFTER – Southern chicken breast and chips, 2 iced teas, lots of water, half a pizza.

Kit – Newtons, NF Long sleeved (getting pretty stinky now), socks, shades, nf hat, kooga pants, camelpack

Orange Update – See Moan

Injuries – Chaffing