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