I made it to pole last night. I think it's a sign of the depth of my addiction.....either that or just the depth of my stupidity, but I made it there. Ok, so maybe spinning round the pole twice was actually too much exertion, but hey, at least I could stand ;)
So, good day all. I hope everyone is having a fantastic Wednesday! I'm currently working my way through a lot of food, many episodes of Arrow and lots of sleep in an attempt to recover from what can only be described as the most amazing thing I've ever done in my life at the weekend.
I still can't really process the size of what we accomplished this weekend. We hiked, continuously, for nearly 30 hours. It's beyond my processing capabilities!
I've had loads of people asking what is was like? how did it feel? how did you do it? So here goes :D
The course took us 29 hours and 17 minutes to complete, we lost two team members along it (not literally) and we hiked in 28°C+ temperatures during the day. It was a slog at points, but it was all totally worth it - so let me tell you the full story :)
At 6am on Saturday, Snailstalkers set off from Queen Elizabeth Park. We'd gone to bed at around 10:30pm on Friday and had woken up at 3:30am on Saturday ready for Kenny, our support team lead, to take us down to the start line. Arriving at 5:00am there was enough time to set everything up, leave several things in the car that Kenny had to run back (I blame the distraction of the flapjacks personally) and get and eat plenty. Amber and Simon somehow managed to eat TWO sets of breakfast!
And of course, there were plenty of photos to take! You'll see George, my pink pony in several photos - he naturally had to be included so that I was continuing to #sweatpink for my SPA sisters ;)
From the start to checkpoint one was fairly simple, it was warm and everyone was sweaty, but we made good time for the stage and got into the swing of walking. Poor Tash had started the day feeling really poorly, but she made a good effort to get into the walk as best she could. We came into CP1 in 1:51. Nicely done team. Time to sit, eat, change socks and get moving!
Naturally he was gutted to have to come out, we'd all trained for so long, so hard that it seems like you lose a little bit of yourself when you have to withdraw, but it made sense and luckily we now had Simon to help out on the support team to give them an extra pair of hands!
In 28°C weather it's not just about drinking enough, we'd all had roughly 5 or 6 litres of water by 50km in but you also have to make sure that you're balancing electrolytes. As you drink more, you sweat, and as you sweat, you lose a lot of essential salts from your body. Most of the team ate those back through salty crisps, peanuts, squeezy cheese (mmmmm, cheeeeeeese) but Tash, having felt poorly to start hadn't eaten enough. At CP5 the paramedics told her she was not fit to continue.
The flame was for me and Amber to take on now.
Amber and I decided that at 50km, we would be finishing this event. So we continued. It was heartbreaking to leave Tash and Simon behind in that field, but we knew that we both had a darn good chance of making it for the team. We even managed to make some new friends and trade some Hula-Hoops for a Glo-stick. Seriously, the Hula-Hoops saved our lives :p
When you've been under constant physical strain for a long period of time, by this point we were 13 hours in, we were simply not interested in eating. Eating was only a means to an end and I know for both of us, every time we ate there was a slight nausea attached to it. Don't worry, SO not the case now ;)
When we met our support team at cp6, there had been a lot of wondering whether we'd make it, wondering whether we could eat any more and a LOT of emotional outbursts. Fatigue makes you do funny things and every time we saw supporters, Gurkha's, our support team or anyone who said anything nice there was a bit of blubbering. What can I say, it's an emotional roller-coaster and everyone is SO nice and SO supportive *hiccups* Ah you guys.
Between cp6 and 7, Amber didn't think she was going to make it. She told me she'd have to drop out at CP8. I told her to wait till we got there.
At CP8 there was a large bunny, who gave us stones that were painted by his children with one word to make us feel better. I got "strength" whilst Amber got "hope". Amber got up and left CP8 and carried on walking. What an utter star.
This is where my squeezy cheese came in. Squeezy cheese helped me......a small dollop every 10 minutes kept me salted and with something in my system to help me continue. Amber turned her nose up at the squeezy cheese. More for me ;)
There were several points where we sat down to adjust shoes/socks/go to the bushes (I don't recommend bush-weeing when you've been using your legs for 20+ hours fyi - it's almost impossible to squat which leads you to sit on whatever is on the floor. In my case, this was a nettle bush *sob*) and we almost nodded off right there on the trail. Luckily though, it was light, the sun was out and we could see other teams looking EXACTLY as we felt and pushing on through it. That was inspiration enough.
Just before CP9 I did consider stopping. I know, I know. It seems stupid, but I WAS delirious. Naturally when we got to the CP stopping wasn't an option. With 10k to go we had to do it, and we had to do it in time.
So, beyond-knackered, aching everywhere, hot, hungry and almost out of time we pushed through CP9 to complete the course with 43 minutes left. The last stage took us 2:26 minutes, we power walked the first part of the stage giving us enough time to comfortably stumble the last 6km.
It's strange psychology, but that last 10k could have been 100k for all it felt like - it seemed to take forever. The last 3km felt like the whole course all over again - it stretched out into eternity, until eventually, we could see it. We could see the end......WE HAD DONE IT!!
At the point of crossing that line though, there was so much noise, so much commotion, people shouting, cheering us on, us being announced as we crossed the line, cameras snapping. For two people who'd been awake a LONG time, it was overwhelming. I hope the people that came to support us at the finish line know how deeply thankful we both were for their support, for the cheering, for the celebration of our success. It felt amazing. Nothing I have experienced has felt like crossing that line and finally sitting down, knowing that we don't have to walk anymore!
So, the THANKS I have to say here!
HUGE thanks to the walkers - Amber, you really are amazing; Tash - your progress has been exceptional, just like you - don't be sad, you helped us make it; Simon - you rock, I saw how much it cost you.
MASSIVE thanks to our support: Kenny - thank you :D You were amazing, well done as support team lead; Lynn Reynolds - you stayed up way later than you ever thought and were still amazing, great job; And Amy Nightingale - you made all the difference at CP6, that bagel really helped and the green tea - great idea :D
And then thank you to everyone who has supported us and sponsored us! The list is still growing in sponsors, but you guys are amazing and you make the pain worth it :)
Like you've been in the gym for a long time. I'm surprised personally at how well my body accepted what I wanted it to do - at the end of the course I was tired, but I wasn't injured in any way and my feet are in very good shape. I have three blisters (most of them actually got popped inside the blister plasters inside my shoes on the course) and am otherwise un-achey. I have to admit to some mild-DOMS yesterday, which cleared up after my attempts to pole!
The biggest effect for me though, is the fatigue. Nothing that sleep and food won't deal with :D
So. In summary, that is how you can burn 15, 000 calories ;)
**If you haven't sponsored our team please consider doing it. We worked hard to achieve this and it was all for the good cause of the Gurkha trust and Oxfam. Thanks to Stenny, Dougie and Alia for their contributions over the past couple of days (love you guys :)).
A couple of quid would make all the difference and we'd be greatly appreciative of the support!!
I'd love to hear from any of you guys on the topic - I'm still working out how long it'll take me to find my groove!
Have any of you guys done similar events? What was your experience? How did you recover?