Just give me five minutes…
Are you sure?
I’ve never been as sure of anything in my life…
That last line was improvised, it was probably something more like urrrgggh-a- urrraaagh…
It was now 5.30 on Saturday morning and after 60 miles I had decided that I wanted to sleep. Right here. Right now. Beside the deer (and the funny cow with the big shaved arse) on the side of the trail. I should add that I had also felt the compulsion to boke. This was not a good mix.
He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
– Douglas Adams
When I initially set forth my cunning plans for running 100 miles around Gosford, I have to admit it all seemed like it’d be straight forward. Sure I’ll just turn up and run, then head home for my tea. No bother.
It wasn’t until I consulted with my planning and logistics device (Stace) that I realised there was going to be a lot more to this… the device produced a list of things unlike anything I would ever have possibly conceived, and for a change the device was completely right! It reminded me of things such as contacting local media, sourcing leaflets, getting a banner, sun cream, oh the list goes on.
Most importantly, I was running this for Unique and the Joelmeister. What they needed just as much as money was a wee bit of exposure so peeps could start to understand what this whole chromosome deletion thing is all about so apart from just running the thing I had to make sure people knew about it!
I also called on my trusty musketeers, Rolo, Willie & Ash to man the official Gisford 100 aid station. Gisford may look like a spelling mistake here, but its not, if you pronounce it like this, I think it sounds quite exotic and more like this story is set in the outback rather than Mullabrack…but I digress! Back to the musketeers! The work these lads put in was ridiculous, all I can say is I owe them quite a lot after this. I may even get their names tattooed on my body somewhere… I’m sure Willie wouldn’t mind if I gave him a miss though? Could be an awkward conversation in the tattoo parlour…
To be fair, Tattoos probably aren’t an option after these hundred miles. The support I received was just incredible, I wouldn’t have the room for all the names! I had guys get in touch and donate that I hadn’t seen since high school, I had people I went to primary school with coming out to run with me in the middle of the night, I had friends from the ultra running scene coming across the country at ridiculous times to run with me, and also the random visits just to give me a hug from people during the 24 hours were more than tattoo worthy.
I’m giving half the story away here but it was these random acts of support, generosity, friendship and kindness that completed the Gosford 100 for me. The boost I received from all these people can’t really be written in a silly wee blog. Just know I love you all. And would most likely kiss you given half the chance.
So a wee breakdown of what happened beginning on that fateful Friday evening. The 5th July 2013. Yes I’m only starting now, what are gonna do about it big lad?
We got over to Gosford about an hour before I was due to start running to setup the aid station where I’d be doing all me eating during the run. I say we, but as I’m an athlete, I decided to watch on as the musketeers & one of the musketeers father’s erected the gazebo and a tent. Aforementioned musketeers were much better at aid station/support duties than erecting. Rolo’s dad sorted it out in no time. A few of my fans then assembled before the off, the amount of which blew my mind, a mixture of old buds and family that really put a spring in this Heffers step & after a few hugs and kisses I was off! Just like that.
I have to say this was a really strange feeling, I was buzzing at the fact everyone was there and this was it, the big run had started but it was so flippin’ weird all of a sudden being 200 metres into a 100 mile run round Gosford on my own. I knew some guys would be along in later laps to run with me but right now and for the first 14 miles it was just me and my new acquaintances – hideous doubts.
These miles ticked by fairly incident free and I had started to get into a bit of a rythym by the time the first group of lads were joining me, although my rhythm was too quick! 2 laps in 2 hours, should really have been 2 hours 20 minutes. That’ll probably bite me fairly hard in the back end come the later miles…
I’ll try my best to remember everyone that ran with me on these laps but I know on this one we had Willie (Gas-Powered) Diffin, Rolo (Some boy) Roulston, Nige (Ridiculously large calfed) Hanson & Mark (The Master) Vallely. Like buses these lads, none for 14 miles and then 4 at once!
A memory I have of this lap is of trying my best to keep myself reined in.
One aspect I hadn’t fully considered was that unlike a normal ultra, I would be the only person out here feeling the pain of the miles physically and mentally. Yeah, the guys with me were a massive help but that bit of empathy you get from fellow racers who are also in bits during a race would be gone , I’d have to just dig in and get ‘er done…not that I wouldn’t be bending these lads ears with my woes like! But I certainly wouldn’t be running up hills like some of these boys would, I had to preserve and protect…still a long way to go for this fiend of the forest I thought.
So at the end of this lap I decided to try a different pair of shoes, the trail was extremely hard and dry and my normal inov8s were just too hard. I could have ran for a while longer in them but the impact after 50 miles would have sucked! The change was good but what I changed to was not! I ended up in road shoes on the next lap and these same shoes would stay on my feet until the finish. On lap 3 (21 miles) Declan joined the party, he’s training for the Lakeland 100 at the end of July so used this to run 35 miles of training. It was great to have that consistency on the laps too, some fella I tell ye!
Regarding consistency, it was amazing to see the miles some of the guys put in. A few of the lads had never ran over 7 miles but every one that came out with me ran at least 10-14 miles. Wives, I will not be held responsible for new found addictions to running… They signed a disclaimer…
Now where am I, yes. All over the place. The shoe debacle could have ended up with a much more serious outcome actually as when I had ran 7 miles in the second pair, I felt a twinge in my left knee but Ash quickly got some ice on it and I was right as rain again…sort of. Secretly I ran about 14 miles more before the pain disappeared entirely. I was living in a silent panic!! If I didn’t change those shoes when I did, I’m certain I wouldn’t have made it to 50 mile!
Now we were into the night sections when we had Craig (drove down from Belfast at midnight!! My hero!) Quilty (I love the dark!) Stuarty (more muscular than the law allows) Geoff (The running Postman) and Jonny (flipping) Hagan. (Oh and Declan and the musketeers were still going strong!)
Speaking of Jonny, I originally thought he was a hallucination. I had went to primary school with him and to be honest we hadn’t seen much of each other since as he moved to England for about 10 years. So me and a few others are just minding our business during a fairly standard loop (predictive text just said mincing our business, much better I thought) when all of a sudden we hear a group shouting some of the best Norn Iron ‘yeeeeeeooooosssss’ I have ever heard!! There were about 12 of them and I tried to make out some of the faces but the only one I could see was Jonnys but I thought, ‘surely not’ that’s far too random at 2am in the forest. Had I imagined it? It was far too early for this hallucinating craic!
Anyway, we beat on up the trail buoyed by the bunch of hallions who turned out to be from our church and had seen the updates on Facebook and decided to come over to Gosford for the craic. I loved that. Everyone single one of ye’s are heroes! And it turns out Jonny had also been watching the oul bookface himself during the week and had decided to come out to support the madness. People don’t realise but it’s acts like this that make 100 mile finishes a reality.
Someday when I’m a millionaire, I will buy you all pancakes.
I’m just realising how many stories I have of this night, another one that almost brought a tear to my eye (lucky I’m too hard for that craic!) was Stevie Hartleys appearance in the middle of the night. He has organised a charity 5-a-side tournament every year in memory of a mate of his that died several years ago. Well he only arrived with the proceeds from it to give to Unique at about 1am on his way from the competition! Very humbling when people go to this effort… especially when he then did two laps in the astroturfs he’d been playing in that night! And people say I’m not wise…
So back to the running and all was going well. I hit the 50 mile Mark after 10 hours which was good going but probably a touch fast! Everyone seemed to really enjoy the night running even though a few were afraid of the green lady of Gosford. I actually find her mildly attractive if I’m honest.
I don’t tend to dwell too much on the details of the actual running when I write my reports but after 10 or so laps of the forest, you do start to think alot.
What I was generally thinking that my body was imminently going to fall to pieces.
It was around the point when the night runners had gone home and it was brightening up that the fear hit. My stomach turned and I just wanted to lie down. It’s hard to train for this, I had spent many nights running through Gosford before today but this tiredness was hard to recreate. I had run over 1000 miles in training for this, I’d completed a couple of ultras and a few marathons in the preceding 3 months to prepare. But nothing could pull me out of this hole…
Apart from the music of Bon Jovi.
Yes, that’s right. Bon Jovi saved my life. Not Barry White.
As I was lying on the ground begging for 5 minutes alone, Rolo offered to play some music. To the uninitiated, there are several things I would normally rather do than listen to a play list created by this man. Including eating my own face or peeling myself and jumping into a Bath of salt. He neglected to listen to my pleas and before we were subjected to Ant & Decs greatest hits, I chose oul Bon Jovi and we started running.
Three 30 year old men singing love ballads in the forest to one another as the sun came up.
A Beautiful thing.
From here in it was just about getting it done. Clive joined me for 4 laps and he paced me perfectly, having run his fair share of ultras, he knew the score.
It had become more of a walk run from about 70 miles in with each lap taking 1.5 hours on average now. I hope the fresh boys (Peter – the athlete ,Steve – howdy Neighbour, El Telfordo – I know your game & Andy ‘the daddy’ Mckitterick) that arrived didn’t find it too slow!
And as if from nowhere, we were on the final lap… The lads had decided to leave me for the very end of this lap to let me run it in. I thought this might be a contemplative time but instead it had become a sprint. No point in leaving anything in the legs wha!? Cutting down through that final wee stretch of trail that everyone loved so much I did start thinking of wee Joel and how this whole thing had somehow become much bigger than I could have expected, the awareness was now starting to get out there so hopefully this on its own will help Ash & Jill out.
Running past good old bareass and his gazelle type mates, I could see that there were quite a few assembled at the finish line, much more than I expected! So I bit my lip and just kept running. No time to lose my manliness here by doing something silly like crying. The shape I was in, the tears may have never ceased!
I finally got over the rise away from the farm and ran as hard as I could over that line. Busted.
So that was it. The Gosford100 (or Gisford depending where you’re from) was done. All the training and scary nights running round the forest on my own had been worth it. Just over 2.5k raised and still more coming in. And more importantly the awareness for wee Joels condition had been immense.
I really can’t thank people enough but the millionaire/pancake thing still stands…
That’s the most fun I’ve ever had running in circles.
Evans lesson for the day
Daddys head went a wee bit funny today. He thought he saw a big cow with a bare bum and some deer doing the ironing. If this ever happens to you. Just sing ‘Someday I’ll be Saturday Night’ by Bon Jovi. It will scare all the craziness away.