Sunday, 20 September 2015

WTF happened? How Not To Run The UTMB

It was meant to be a jog in the mountains. Piece of piss. I even toyed with the idea of a comedy costume. So what led me to dropping out barely 10 miles in? Why the withdrawal from the rest of the year’s races? It’s taken a while to work it out.

I’d been on a sloth & kebab diet after the Thames Ring, but I thought I could hoof it round on basic fitness. I even treated myself to a campsite with showers and everything.  After the TR I was on a high and low. High that I’d managed to get a podium place, and low that hammering out a 4 day race left me mentally drained. While the feet and muscles healed pretty quickly, the headology batteries were just flat.

On the day I got the kit together and wandered over to the iconic start/finish where I met a bunch of familiar faces, we shot the breeze and cooked slowly as we waited for 200 decibels from an iconic Greek composer. Thanks. I knew I was at the wrong start line. Headology fail once again. Then we set off and the crowds were amazing. Craning for a view with cameras and phones capturing the moment all the way down, funneling the runners into an ever smaller gap. I felt a little like the new steer at the rodeo. They even had a helicopter overhead for the Australians.

Eventually we broke out of the Cham Corral and made off for the hills, hitting the first ascent pretty gently. Poles were out and a lot of hiking and sweating ensued then over the top and on to my nemesis – the descent. I made like the sugar plum fairy and tip-toed down while the less reckless and less scared hammered past on both sides. It was so much fun I stopped half-way down as we passed a couple of farmhouses and asked if they had any beer. They didn’t, so onwards and downwards it was.

As the race had started at 6pm it quickly started to get dark as we entered a patch of woodland and I clicked on the torch. As more people skipped past in the gloom I decided to take to the side of the path to save them from having to jostle past like a big-city marathon until eventually we got to a patch of road where I could run without shoulder-barges and could hear cheering and music from the town below.

Entering the first checkpoint I was 1:15 under the cut-off, but I just didn’t want to do it any more. I did a comedy sprint and dip for the line, then went and sat out of the way watching people go past. Runners were struggling through for their A race of the year and I was sitting watching them.  Surreal really. I’d just switched off from wanting to run any more. I'd reached that Forest Gump moment.

I walked over to the timekeepers and told them I wanted to quit, found the bus back to Cham and hit the bars pretty hard the next day. For anyone that was around then, I apologise. So with a bail, a hangover and a few brief ‘had to be done’ conversations at the campsite, I took myself off home and withdrew from the ultra scene for a bit.

So if fishing for shrimp is out, what do you do next? Well I have a hankering for the sub-continent and Nepal seems to be the perfect fit, and given that I have a contract break in Nov it’s perfect weather for getting mountains out of the system. I might have the chance of some charity stuff too, what’s not to like.

So next, Nepal.. then.. ?

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