PictureSJI students pledging to reduce their trash
At @1.5 tonnes per head/year, the average resident in Singapore produces more trash per head than the average resident in the USA! A number of students at SJI were not surprised. Singapore has become an even more "disposable society" than the USA, with the  "if its old, chuck it" attitude. There are very few charity shops in Singapore as many residents are suspicious of other people's stuff and a number feel the cost of the items are only a little cheaper than the new items. Additionally few knew about freecycle or trashnothing. Perhaps schools in Singapore can look at freecycling school uniforms from fast growing kids!

It has been estimated that Singapore's only landfill site (Pulau
Semakau) will be completely full by 2035 and Singaporean residents do not appear to be slowing down their disposable attitude. Singapore currently manages its waste stream through recycling and incineration. Incineration reduces the trash to 10% of its volume and then the ash is landfilled. If incinerators do not burn at high enough temperature, dioxins and furans are formed from burning plastic and rubber waste (can cause cancer and respiratory problems).

Singapore also has a "haze" problem that residents indirectly support by purchasing products such as soaps, fast food, chocolate, biscuits, etc that contain palm oil. A number of these companies are not scrupulous about where they source their palm oil from and have been found to import palm oil through the destruction of Indonesian rain forests (Nestle is an example of a company that Greenpeace have urged to stop supporting the destruction of rainforests to palm oil). The very same destruction that is causing "the lung killing haze" continually encountered in Singapore,

It was fantastic to meet the change makers who want the "buck to stop here".

PictureHanding over the pledge tyre who is waiting to be named :-)
The vision is for Singapore to be a zero trash society:
- that reuses and repairs "stuff" at home
- and what cannot be reused or repaired is then upcycled or recycled and in turn is again reused

...Thus reducing the poisons we release back into our environment; our demand on resources and our impact on our precious rain forest resources. Some will go for the baby steps provided with the B.Y.O attitude, and others in the school will guide the way to help their home, school and society become totally sustainable.

The dream is possible with a bit of determined effort....just as a "gal" drags a tyre in a marathon.

Thank you to Martin, Frances and Clare, the brilliant teachers who have supported this cause and will continue to guide the change makers to be more sustainable.

My leg is nearly healed after 2.5 weeks of hobbling around. I am quietly amused by my whole antics of slow walking/hobbling in an effort to keep my leg working, in the hope that it is dynamically stretching the tightened muscles and unravelling the twisted tendons and ligaments that took place in the last 60 miles of the Ultrarace 100. Resting is not really my thing!

3 months ago, the Ultrarace 100, sparkled and enticed me to join even though Rory (RD) refused my tyre entry. This event started at mid-day and would be held on one of the longest days in the year, 28 June. This meant I would not have to get up early and the night part would be relatively short.  It was a perfect event to enter as a training run to kill a couple of demons in my head, if I was going to re-attempt the 135 miler (Arrowhead). However there are two parts to every event. First there is the training to get to the start line and second there is the completion of the event. So far I've failed only one event for the latter and none for the former....but there is always a first time for everything.

After Ridgeway 40 (11 May), I completed a second 40 miler the following weekend in just under 8 hours sans tyre. Still feeling strong my target for the 100 miler was to finish the event within 24 hours. 

Four weeks before the event a past back strain came to haunt me as I dragged piles of rubble around (more building work!). Unable to run for 2 weeks due to chronic back pain, I considered cancelling the event.....after all everyone around was nagging me.........that is until I attended my local church.

With the church's vision for a church centre to be a cornerstone in the town and their appeal for funds, I got excited. Perhaps the vicar had put the thought in my head, perhaps God or perhaps I just needed a little more purpose. As I left the church, I did a u-ee (u-turn) and declared to the vicar that I would dedicate my next run to help them raise funds (see Errr.... no I did not tell him I had a bad back.

Two weeks before the event: Still unable to run, I downgraded my time estimation to completing the event within 30 hours and sheepishly announced to those around what I was planning to do.

"Roll the eyes and shaker the head."

Okay so I had 2 weeks to sort myself out and if God wanted me to do this event, my body would be ready on the day. I had a plan to continue with my daily pseudo-pilates and secondly get my buddy Sharon to attempt to clear my knotted back as well as the stiff neck that had been niggling me for a number of weeks. Her first attempt to ease the back had me giggling with pain as she discovered a very tender spot on my glutes, however after her manipulation, I managed a slow 10 mile run 2 days after. The weekend before the event, I slow jogged a 5K and then had Sharon attack my back and neck a second and final time to remove any further tension. The rest of the training plan was to simply eat to put on some weight and ask some church members to pray for me the week before the event! 

Four days before the event: Everything was coming together. Me back feeling was better, that girly thing came a week early...but sniff sniff. My nose was runny, had a slight headache and the throat was feeling a little discomfort. I was coming down with a cold. As long as it didn't affect the chest, I would be okay. My touch rugby buddy Kate reminded me to gargle with Listerine. I did for the next 2 days. I was adamant this cold would last 3 days.
Event day: Just a sniffle left of the cold and a slight tension in the lower back - no show stoppers. I had made it to the start line as fit as I could be: very little running in the last 4 weeks and lots of eating. ***lots of imaginary fanfare sound effects + yahoos*** The plan was to keep everything easy and enjoy the sunset and sunrise.

The weather: The day was cloudy and cool at 18 degrees C. The early morning drizzle had died out by about 10am. Rain was forecasted to fall at about 6pm. The next day would be hot and sunny.

The Start: Having walked off in the wrong direction to the registration building/startline which was only 5 minutes away from the hotel I stayed overnight in,  I was anxious. I was anxious about getting lost and I was anxious about being itchy and clawing my skin apart in the slightly humid conditions (I suffer from eczema). To circumvent the latter, I had a whole anti-histamine before starting which was a bad idea. 

Two experienced ultra runners who had done this event assured me it would be hard to get lost on this route. As a newbie (well I've only completed a 40 mile event as my longest and failed the 135 mile event) I thought I'd pick their brains further and followed their advice to reduce my bag of surplus weight of extra water, food and clothes. After all each checkpoint is only a training run away (every 10 miles).

Final Kit: Small running backpack; spare long sleeve (parkrun jacket); a couple of cereal bars + one gel; one 750 litre bottle of water; pair of sandals; small towel (to wipe the sweat away and hopefully reduce the eczema itch); head torch; plasters; ankle brace; string (in case I needed to tie anything - like if my shoes fell apart!); small tube of sun cream; small tube of moisturising lotion; toothbrush with toothpaste, rain jacket, emergency blanket.

The last thing I needed to do was to flush out the system of negative thoughts, however I hadn't really thought to do so. I knew I could complete 100 miles, I already had the mental capability. The questionable part was in what state I would leave my physical being.

Anyhow it's late, I've got to go to bed, then work and do all the normal shenanigans normal people do.

In the meantime, I'd like to suggest that future running events have a pen, paper and bucket for you to write down any final negative thoughts as you wait because you arrived ridiculously early for registration. The bucket should be placed at the start line, so you can throw your negativity into the bucket to leave it at the start.

Good night and be with you all again next week for part 2 if I haven't bored you already :-)
Signing the New Holland East Coast Pledge
The New Holland pledge

1. To reduce consumption - reduce purchasing stuff
Think about reusing and repairing things before you decide to throw it away. Perhaps Freecycle/Freegle or some type of share organisation will have the item you are looking for.

2. To reduce trash
...By reducing trash that you bring home by applying the simple principle of "Bring Your Own" (BYO)
a) BYO take away containers to restaurants/take out shops
b) BYO thermal mug to the coffee shops (it also is so much nicer than polystyrene cups)
c) BYO bag to the shops

Also think about using Freecycle/Freegle or some type of share organisation to move on the items you no longer want. In the UK broken vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers go very quickly! Let someone else fix it and make some spare cash.

Recycle as a last resort and not as a first resort.

3. To stay active forever (minimum is 20 minutes a day) to combat stress, health issues, reduce dementia, and more. Activity creates a free happy drug - Endorphines! That's why active people are so happy :-)

The Expo had a village feel about it due to art and craft produced by the Garden Spot Villageres, foods from the Amish community, companies with clothing lines and companies from other marathons.

The Garden Spot Village marathon decided to try out the Hydro Pouch as a way to reduce the number of throw away cups on the course. I wonder what feedback has come back from its use. I decided to continue using my water bottle so that I could continue to carry a larger quantity of water on the course and by pass checkpoints/aid stations.

The pasta dinner was again excellent with a vegetarian option. Desserts came in the form of cheese cake, carrot cake, mousse and am sure there were some others. Just couldn't fit them all on my plate!!!

Where does your trash go? To a landfill site!
The Pasta Talk

Different messages were delivered that the audience could choose to go home with:
a) Dragging tyres is about putting life in perspective. b) Challenge yourself to keep your mind young.
c) We, as a technologically advanced society should be aiming towards zero waste! We, as a collective group can make a difference to our environmental impact to the world.

My challenge you is to reduce your outgoing household trash to one small bag a day or even zero trash and to move away from the "disposal society" we have become.

The amount of trash we produce is steadily increasing and the resources we have to supply our consumption is decreasing. As an alternative to oil, bio-diesel is being produced. However this means vast areas of rain forests are chopped down to make way for acres of crops like palm oil trees (in 2008 a Horizon report suggested 5 football fields a day were being slashed in Indonesia). Additionally our toxic plastic waste is making its way into the oceans creating vast plastic expanses (some estimate this to be the size of America), suffocating life and making its way back into our food cycle. Think Capt. Charles Moore explains this best.
Comparitive Figures of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)(Household waste) or when available SW (includes industrial waste) Produced

Currently it is estimated that the world produces 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste per year and it will increase. A search on the web has produced these figures below. It should be noted that China is a big importer of many developed nations "recycled" trash, including USA and UK. What ever cannot be recycled is landfilled there! With the introduction of packaged goods in China, China's MSW will only rapidly increase with more "throw away" plastic.
MSW=@250 million tonnes/year *
GDP=$15.09 trillion**
Population=313,914,040 ***
MSW/person=@796 tonnes/year
Total MSW recycled=34%
Plastic waste=31 million tonnes/year
Plastic recycled=8%

* - 2010 figure for only household waste
** World Bank - 2011 figure
***U.S. Census Bureau - 2012 figure

SW=@140 million tonnes/year*
GDP=$2.43 trillion**
SW/person=2,234 tonnes/year
Total recycled=@40%
Plastic waste=5 million tonnes/year***
(2.4 million is plastic packaging)
Plastic recycled=24%

* Environmental agency - 2010 figure for all waste
** World Bank - 2011 figure
*** British Plastic Federation

Note: To check how good your town is at recycling click here
MSW=@250 million tonnes/year*
GDP=$7.3 trillion**
MSW/person=@185 tonnes/year
Total MSW recycled=23%
Plastic waste=Unknown since they are global importers of the world's plastic waste

* Facts & Details - 2012 for only household waste
** World Bank - 2011 figure

SW=7.2 million tonnes/year*
GDP=$239.7 billion**
SW/person=1,400 tonnes/year
Total recycled=60%*
Plastic waste=0.7 million tonnes/year*
Plastic recycled=10%*

* nea - 2012 figures for all waste
** world bank - 2011 figure

Note: Singapore incinerates its waste, converting it into energy. The ashes are used to reclaim land!
So do we care to work collectively to change our consumption habits? I know Modesto and New Holland care. Hope to find out if this has progressed forward for each marathon's 10th anniversary!
Ecuder with some teachers and students at the end of class
Ecuder (new tyre) and TG had an opportunity to visit Modesto Gregori High School's Global Club. The global club's main goal is to help preserve their environment and educate people on how they can do this. 

Given 2 days to come up with a topic, Elvira, a senior who will be running her first marathon this Sunday, told TG she just had to talk about herself and what she is doing. Easy! Except Ecuder whispered something else to TG! 

We met a proactive group of teens and a few teachers with a mission "to change the habits of adults stuck in their ways of apathy and excess". 

The Global Club's Commitment to Reduce
By the end of the talk, this group came up with 5 items they will be including in their movement. 

1. Turn Off Stuff: Their current movement is to "Be Energy Efficient" and encouraging teachers and colleagues to switch off the lights and their white goods before they leave the class.
2. BYO Bag: When going to the shops, they will commit to a policy of "Bring Your Own" bag.
3. More Sidewalks (walk/cycle): Currently there are no sideway access to the school which discourages students from either walking or using a bicycle to school. Perhaps more students would walk/cycle to school if sidewalks existed to the school. Currently there is a health and safety risk.
4. Reuse:
a) Water Bottles: To purchase less water bottles and instead use more robust water bottles
b) Clothes - e.g. Prom dress:  Apparently an awesome young lass came to the prom last year in a dress made from snickers wrappers. Will the young ladies in the class continue this tradition? Could part of the credentials to crowning a prom queen be her "frugal" qualities.
c) Art: To transform rubbish into art

This sounds like a case for integrating the Art, Home Economics and Industrial Technology departments together!

5. Reuse Food: There was an end of class discussion about how the school canteen's food waste could have been turned into fuel gas and compost. Unfortunately the proposal was over turned. However, TG was told there will be a movement towards worm compost bins. This sounds like the Agricultural department need to get involved. Additionally perhaps the Industrial Technology and Science departments can look at a project whereby students can create an anaerobic digester, after all there are so many resources on the web to discover how to do many things!

Go Modesto Gregori High School's Global Club! We will be watching you pioneer an innovative "sustainable living" program and hope you become an example for other schools to follow. You are a great example of "Being The Change".

The Global Club will be helping the marathoners on Sunday to recycle their waste. Let's hope marathoners show some responsibility!

Tring: Protecting Our Animals
Protecting Our Animals:
Resort World - Let the dolphins Go

The Singapore Marathon fills me with dread. The energy sapping humidity and the almost unbearable heat will cause many to suffer from dehydration and heat exhaustion, including myself. Unless the marathon is completed under 4 hours, a number will fall by the wayside, having underestimated the heat intensity as time ticks on towards 10:00 

But I had promised to run with a message for Acres to Resort World to please let the dolphins go. I support their call as Singapore is a progressive nation, and keeping intelligent species enclosed in a pool is like putting a sane human being in a padded cell and bringing them out for one's own amusement. If you let the dolphins go, it will be a day that will be remembered, sending a message to the rest of the world that we need to change our attitude to other species on this world. Come on Resort World - the world needs you to lead by example. Let the dolphins go.

Acres actively rescue and protect our local indigenous species. If you care about preserving the local biodiversity of Singapore please volunteer or to support the cause click here..

Discovering a Son:
Running for Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP)

As the marathon time was approaching, I dicovered I had a long lost son who tracked me down through the inter-web. Like any mother who discovers she has a child - it was a surprise.  After all - would I like him? Would he like me? ....and all those other concerns that goes through a mother's head. His tyre draging proved that he was coming from the same family. I could not reject him.

He still has much to learn to train his tyre. Of course,  I disapprove of him tying a chain around his ahlianchanel69 and bumping her up and down. She is looking a little worn out. However he has done his mum proud, completing the marathon in a great time of 7:20 and at the same time raising awareness for the BMDP.

He carried a burden for the event, entertaining all around and striving to give hope to the leukemia, lymphoma patients and others who need stem cell technologies to get them back into health. To be a donor click here or to support the cause click here

Avast me hearties, this is an event you all must try.  It throws at you moors and bogs with thigh deep mud crossings. I was just thankful I was not any shorter.

(To find the next time this event runs, click here)

Our eyes were treated to scenes of delight despite the dreary misty start. Into the Yorkshire moors, our feet were treated to slick mud following where smugglers trod.

As the sun broke through the clouds, a carnival of pirates and wenches abounded at CP2.

Behind the carnival scene, runners and walkers alike disappeared off towards a meandering river and a rocky path that would try to catch Red in their teeth.

The path would follow a scenic sticky muddy rocky tour.  Historic walls and caves for smugglers to follow. Perhaps this was a place to hide one's bounty?

1799 - what a year!

We wandered further, climbing banks and crossing bridges to finally see views of Yorkshire's coastline. As we passed through the final village, the fish and chip shop had a queue so long it snaked into town. Had to pull TG away from the drooling outside the shop.

And then we climbed a "Cardiac Arrest" hill. It was so steep TG was nearly crawling on the ground. The town saw pity and threw money into bucket and we raised £61 for Earthwatch. A very generous bounty.

Finally at the end, none of us escaped the muddy trails, not even Chamey who tried to stay well away from the ground.

Pies and chips were a welcome feast.
A certificate and badge to tell the end.
And a Smugglers Trod swag bag to take away our spoils.

This is a brilliant event and definitely worth doing even though it is about 1 and a bit miles shy of a marathon distance. Unfortunately can't count it as part of my 100, but this event is certainly one of my favourites and hope to be back in the area in the future.

Thank you George and your team of fantastic volunteers who really made the event so fun.

Thank you to everyone who donated.

TG thought she'd hang up her tyres for awhile to get into the building trade and has been sustaining injury after injury.
1. Back from using her back like a crane
2. Groin whilst straddling 2 roof joists to hand over a bucket
3. Back a couple more times as TG did not learn the golden rule the first or the second time - "DO NOT USE YOUR BACK LIKE A CRANE"

So her holiday from us ended when the Olympics began. It's excursion time!

Tyre Grandma had persuaded TG to take us out onto the streets of London to help enhance the Olympic Spirit of unity and peace. We were to boldly go where no other tyres had been dragged.

We were given a new lick of paint to shine out our message to the world. Unity and Peace.

We paraded through narrow streets, crashed into lamp posts. We could not hold on to our mission of keeping us in an Olympic formation.

Tyre Grandma and TG had to change our formation so that we could slide and glide through narrow passage ways.

...and finally to the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park. We rested our rubber whilst a group gathered to uphold thoughts of peace from every nation by reading messages of peace sent to TG and Tyre Grandma and Uncle Pete.

May we live more sustainably and learn to share our environment with other animals. Let there be unity and peace amongst mankind, unity and peace amongst all living things on planet earth!

It has been some time since I last posted. Somehow the hum drum of life has kept me struggling to keep up with this blog and runs. Was injured on the first run of the year, completed 2 in May and then "stuff" has been happening to push one's mind in different directions. It's not doing the marathons that is hard, it is the distractions in life that make the journey to completing the challenge hard.

As I struggle to find my inner peace, my buddy Tess says we have to take the Olympic tyres out to enhance the Olympic occasion with the thought of nations united in peace.

I tell her my mind is not right for the occasion, but really pointless to argue with a woman who has been to the North and South Pole, and up every high mountain on each continent on a mission for world peace.

So I need to give the Olympic tyres a lick of fresh paint so that we can pull them together as a symbol of "Pulling Together for Peace".  A message that was important to remember when ascending Kilimanjaro.

So mark this in your diaries all and come join in:

5th August 2012 at 12:00 (midday): Tess, Pete and myself will be meeting up at the back of Clapham Junction rail station to pull the Olympic tyres + peace tyre (Amani) along the River Thames
5th August 2012 at 14:00: we expect to arrive at the Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ. There we will be reading about 200+ peace messages and prayers from different countries.

If you would like a perspective on what peace others want or want to be part of the peace movement, come join us. Contact me on the Peace Message page or if you would like to be there but cannot get there then send us a Peace Message to be read as we pull for peace along the Thames.

Remember to bring a flag of a nation
Type of Race: Route description, self navigation
Course: It’s the Chiltern Hills so it was hilly at first and at the end but mostly flat
Route Description: Personally thought it was excellent.
Organisation and volunteers: Fantastic
Food: Biscuits and water at 5 CPs
Weather: Dry and hot (20s degrees celcius)
Start Time: 07:00
Location: Ruislip Fire Station

We had just arrived at the fire station, and a participant approached TG.
Participant:  So what’s your tyre’s name?
TG: Red
Participant:  But it’s orange!
TG: It’s all about primary colours.
Participant: Oh I get it…..

After the last marathon's conversation about colours, TG excused herself about needing to visit the loo (toilet). So Chamy and I (yes we do not go everywhere with TG, despite what people say) decided to play on a fire engine. Whilst Chamy climbed up, I got chatting to a cute fire truck tyre with a lovely rim.

TG had other ideas and so we were pulled off to listen to the RD (Nick) about healthy and safety on the course. Bucket was not too happy about the idea of having to cross two golf ranges and Nick's joke about bucket being used for target practice, left bucket feeling a little apprehensive.

It was time to hit the streets! As TG pulled us out of the fire station, bucket wanted to turn back.

Bucket:   TG, Ruislip is in London. This is going to have awful scenery and you’re tired. We should just quit now whilst we’re ahead
Red: Don’t know what you’re worried about. I’ll probably get hit first.
TG:  Errr - I’m the bigger object….anyway it’ll be good to see a new area of London. It's supposed to weave into the Chiltern Hills.

We headed onto the Hillingdon Trail and were all surprised about how country-fide it all looked.

Our fourth last hill was at the bottom of the last golf course. TG belted across as golfers fired away. Bucket became a quivering wreck and by the time we had completed, bucket was trying to hide in me.

Silly bucket!

Thank you to everyone who donated (£20). All your donations will go to Earthwatch.....and special thanks to the man who stopped his car and threw coins at us, at this point bucket was hiding.

This is an enjoyable marathon and a great way to explore another part of London :-)

This is the 27th Marathon, but only the second one for the year.

Type of Race: Route description, self navigation
Course: First 25 miles, mostly flat and some minor hills. Last 15 miles, there were quite a few steep hills. Ground was muddy from the last couple of rainy days.
Route Description: Personally thought it was excellent.
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent
Food: When there was some, very good. Carrot cake was divine at CP2
Weather: Dry and perfect (10 degrees celcius and overcast)
Start Time: 07:00
Location: Henley Upon Thames

Dear Organisers,

Please can I pull my tyre, Red at your event.

Yours truly

Dear Tyregirl

We don’t discriminate against people with dogs; so is the tyre obedient?



Of course Red is now obedient. Since her redesign and marriage to Landy, she has settled down and been fine on muddy grounds

4th May 2012: Final Preparation
The plan was to have a cheesy pasta dinner and then sleep early, but preparation continued. First with touching Red up with some fresh paint and then was sucked towards “the cloud”.  The internet has replaced television to providing an unlimited amount of information, entertainment and socializing.  My route preparation to the venue, took a diversion to replying to emails, chatting to friends on facebook, and browsing websites in my search for solar ventilation/heating.  My early night was midnight and a conversation in my head told me 5 hours sleep would be fine…..that is, if I had slept.  The engine in my head was still churning out thoughts and it was about 2am when I resorted to a tension technique in order to relax the body.

5th May 2012: It's All About the Food
I wrestle with early mornings but I did manage to get myself out of bed by 05:15, eat the rest of last night’s pasta and a sausage for breakfast and was out the door by 06:00 as planned.  Arrived at the venue by 06:35, tried to check in. My name was not there! Thankfully I had my event number and found myself....of course ...listed under “Tyre”.  After all this was Red's event. I was simply the "dragger".

I was anxious to get going, however my reins were held back.  I had to chill out with the other walkers and do a mass start at 07:00.  So I fubbled, that is fussed around with my gear and bumbled around and tried to get the morning’s abultion out of the way.  Guess no such thing when one has had carbohydrate, fat and protein for dinner and breakfast.

A carpet of bluebells in a "magic" woodland
07:00: Early morning chatter
Announcement: There is flooding on the banks of the Thames…
Mutterings: And there is still a hose pipe band!
Announcement: So there is a diversion at Goring. There will be a marshal to guide you.  You can see the new route on the map over there. So now if you are ready, tear off your “tear-off” strip off your event card into the “Start Time” box and have a great day!

My brain cells are rarely awake in the morning and there is a dull sense of awareness. Morning conversations are generally avoided.

Chamey is bewildered!
Walker 1: You going to be pulling that tyre all the way?
TG: Yes
Walker 1: Does it have a name?
TG: It’s a “she” and her name is Red
Walker 1: But it looks orange.
TG: Her name is Red!
Walker 1: Why not Orange?
TG: You’re only looking at her superficially. What primary colours make orange?
Walker 1: Oh yeah, I get it.
TG: Anyway I have to do a short run as Red wants to get moving.

The walking mass were a couple of hundred metres ahead of me, so running really did not get me very far before I had slow down back to a walking pace to meet another inquisitive older walker.

Walker 2: Are you doing 40 miles with that?
TG: Yes I will be doing 40 miles with Red.
Walker 2: But she doesn’t look Red
TG: Yes I know. She likes the name Red
Walker 2: She is orange you know.
TG: Yes she doesn’t like being called orange.

I could not push forward as we were grouped together on a narrow street. I was trapped with this older gentleman.

Walker 2: You know it’s going to be all countryside on this route?
TG: Yes I know. I like small quiet marathons.
Walker 2: Well you’re not going to get any donations.
TG: Yes I’m not expecting any.
Walker 2: And there are lots of obstacles like roots and rocks and stiles….
TG: Yes I’m good with all of that. I’m a professional now. So how many marathons have you done?

Have found a question is always a good way of deflecting off negative conversations.

Walker 2: Oh I just did 50 miles last weekend, 40 this weekend, and will do another 50 next weekend… know you’re not going to get a lot of donations

Oh dear perhaps he has a little dementia? Or perhaps he was just adamant to make his opinion known.

TG: Wow that’s a lot of miles. What was last week’s marathon like?
Walker 2: It was a little wet and muddy. You know us walkers and runners won’t have any change on us because we want to be light.  See change makes us heavy.
TG: Notes will be fine….
Walker 2: I mean you are expecting change in your bucket, right?

My synaptic neurons were pulsating away to bewilderment. After a little more of the same conversation, the path widened enough for me to run ahead and find my own space.

Church after CP1
Where's the Banquet?
By 09:00 Red and I were motoring well, reaching CP1 (6.6 miles). Scoffed a piece of cake, and was soon out onwards to the next check point. The plan was to eat a cereal bar every 30 minutes, and then eat something heavier at the “lunch time” check points.  The LDWA events are known for having plenty of food, especially at lunch time check points.

Awesome carrot cake at CP2
11:30: CP2 (16.1 miles). Red and I were a mile ahead of ourselves, as had expected to roughly complete 3 miles an hour. There was some cake and chocolate bars. It was a bit early for lunch, though was sure the next check point would have a banquet of food as can normally be expected at an LDWA event.

The route description appeared easy to follow. This was a dangerous thought, for when fatigue crept in, concentration can go. Soon our route diversion began and I don’t think the group of us really listened to the instructions from the marshals.

Marshal: Turn right at the green bridge

I was distracted by a Welsh runner donating 50 pence, and then a passerby throwing £2 into the bucket. I had forgotten what was said and foolishly assumed that the four others ahead of me would get it right. They turned left and so did I. The route description no longer made sense, until another passerby corrected us. (phew).

Pfaffing cost @ 10 minutes.

Heading towards Goring and a diversion
13:00: CP3 (20.2 miles). There was one chocolate bar left and crumbs. Where was the banquet of sandwiches, cake, pastries....? My expectations had been demolished. The marshal was very apologetic. I would have to go onto my emergency ration of three scones. My mind wanted something more substantial though my body would have to accept it didn’t need anything more. After all I was not really staving. I’d already eaten 5 breakfast cereal bars, 3 pieces of cake and two chocolate bars.

My mind and body were wrestling, and the hills were now biting hard into the quads. I spaced out briefly.

I allowed my mind to be distracted with food illusions and found myself wandering back and forth in a woodland, trying to make sense of the route description. I was now lost. I asked a family where we were. They had no clue and I began to feel a sense of hopelessness. I’d have to call the organizers but they too would probably not know where I was, if I could not say where I was! I wandered around further and found a “godsend” sign post pointing me towards Stoke Row, the next checkpoint. I had been going in the opposite direction. Admittedly I was a little fed up, but really just needed another feed.

Pfaffing cost @ 1 hour

Michael led the way up hill
16:00: CP4 (25.8 miles). 3 hours to complete 5.7 miles meant I had spent my excess time. If we got lost one more time, it would be game over. The check points had a time limit and the next one closed at 17:15. We had 5 miles to complete however my head was a little distracted to complete the mathematics. Here there was a banquet of food! So thinking I had time, I slammed dunked some jam and cheese sarnies, followed by more cake and replenished my emergency supplies.

It was 16:15 when I departed, watched by the marshals peering out the village hall windows, shaking their heads as Red pulled away. My head was now in a better place, so my body felt better as we ran into the distance.

About mile 27, I did not see the stile and carried on up a hill. Again the route description was not making sense. I began to think about a DNF. It was so easy to do. I’d already DNFed once this year. No big deal to fail on another, or would that just be failure after failure.

Fortunately in the woodlands, there was a house and a resident for me to enquire and thus had to retrace my steps back down the hill to find a stile and Michael!

Pfaffing cost @ 15 minutes

Typical English countryside scenery
Michael had started at about 07:20 and was surviving on 2 hours sleep. He was steadily moving along but in no hurry. He looked tired but his head was stubborn. He became my energizing buddy. I knew there was no way we would make the next check point by the set time limit, however he was still hopeful that they would allow him to continue. He was tired though still positive so I tried to shut out my negative thoughts. At the pace we were going it would be approximately 21:00 when we would complete. That is one hour after the event closed. However Michael remained enthused in positiveness. Loved the attitude and so decided to pick up our pace! In order to make faster ground, I carried Red except on hills. We ran down hills and despite Michael’s initial cautiousness he was soon speeding down them hills with us! We were flying on endorphins.

17:55: CP5 (31.2 miles).  By this point we had caught up with a couple.

Marshal: Sorry guys but you are 40 minutes late at this checkpoint so am going to have to retire you. We can give you a ride back to Henley.
Michael: Well I would like to continue, if you all (the couple and me) want to continue
Marshal: This will be at your own risk. So if you fall over and break a leg.....we are not responsible
Michael: If we stick as a group, we’ll be fine

The couple were not going to continue. Everyone looked at me to confirm my intentions. It would be so easy to return with the couple, but no way was I going to let Michael and Red down! It was just under 9 miles to go even if there would be nothing for us at the end. No food, no welcoming committee, just a dark hall and the mere satisfaction of completing the event. This was now personal.

TG: Well we just need to food to keep us going.
Marshal: So happy to hear that. We have got loads! Here take what you need but remember you are on your own.

Armed with marmite and cheese sarnies in our pockets, ALLONS-Y, we went steaming ahead. 1 mile completed in 10 minutes. Michael and I looked at each other, perhaps the route description was a little generous, or we were really moving much faster than when we had first met. We were utilizing each other’s energy and fast walked together as if we were old friends, and ran down hills as if we were kids. It was great to have a buddy to check the route description.

18:45: CP6 (34.9 miles).  The check point marshals were just completing their pack up when we arrived. They were beaming because they could off load more food unto us and we were beaming back from hill racing adrenalin. We were packed us off with more food and a tin of rice pudding and fruit cocktail for Michael.

20:23: End (40 miles).  There were still walkers who had only arrived about 10-15 minutes before us. The organization had only begun packing up. We had made it and we were elated.

Red’s official time: 13 hours 23 minutes.

Thank you to the fantastic organisation and to the folks who donated. Your funds will be going to EarthWatch. AND, Michael it was a real luxury having you as a buddy! :-)

Next event 26th May