It’s hard to summarise such a big race in one story, but I guess the first 24 hours provides a glimpse: a non-stop ‘Ramsay Round’ in distance and ascent (87km, 8,900m) but in torrential rain and 100kph winds – extreme enough weather to quite literally drown moles (we know, we saw one) – just to reach Bourg St.Pierre, the second of four official aid stations. We devoured dinner and nestled gratefully into our bunks, setting the alarm for 5 hours hence and instantly falling into the sleep of the dead. Exactly one hour later a hand grabs my ankle, shakes hard and says “you’ve had enough sleep now, we need your bunks for the next runners”… and off into the night we continued, stumbling, utterly unable to comprehend what had just happened, but somehow accepting it and pushing on. At least the rain had stopped, our legs were feeling OK and the stars were out.
We completed in 5.5 days, averaging 2.5 hours sleep/night, and virtually all of the rest of the time we were moving. Spookily Willie Gibson recounted our entire race to me after we returned – “you were going strong for the first couple of days in around 3/4th place (out of 103 teams), one of you got sick and you dropped to 39th, the sick guy struggled on for 36 hours where you were hovering around the low 20’s, he then dropped out and you pulled back to finish in 13th overall” – and all of this gleaned entirely from watching our online GPS tracker.
Sincerest thanks to my superb team-mates Jason Hubert and Mick James, to various imaginary friends that accompanied me during the fourth night without sleep, to ProPlus and most importantly to the organisers, the volunteers, fellow competitors and friends that sent supportive texts during the race for a truly life-enhancing and life-affirming experience. More details to follow in the journal and possibly a winter talk too if you’re (un)lucky.