The Manxies (Vinny Lynch, Jayne Farquhar, Louise Smith, Ed Walter, Jane Foster, Simon Cox and I) had a very successful weekend in what turned out to be an extremely hot and humid 24 hour event. Although the 27° temperatures and blistering sunshine (it reminded me of home....) were forecast, it was still a shock and we were all hot and bothered just putting the tent and gazebo up to use as our HQ.
At midday, we all set off with a mix of trepidation, enthusiasm and excitement. We did a few up and down loops (to make up the distance) and were then let loose on the 3966m (2.46 miles) laps of which 39 would make up the 100 miles.
Once we were out in the open and had lost the shade of the trees, it quickly became very apparent that this was not going to be pleasant due to the heat, which was gradually increasing, and the humidity which was creeping up too.
In a previous life, I came to Rotterdam fairly frequently and from memory, it was always cold, wet and windy. Even the locals seemed a bit bewildered by this current heatwave.
On the Parish Walk, you will see your support team at regular intervals and, depending on your needs, that could be every half mile or every mile for example. Here though, it was almost 2.5 miles between feeds. Half way around was a water/sponge/1st aid station which was very useful. As these feed/water stations were so far apart, we needed to ensure that we were on the ball with hydration and nutrition and took something at every opportunity.
From the off, Vinny got to the front with his usual determination. I chose to warm up for a loop before upping my pace a little and joining him after a mile or so.
We stayed together for about 20 miles at a fairly good pace until we became separated and Vin moved about 500 meters ahead of me.
The route went through a massive public park with numerous paths and roads, so the race route was marked by arrows in chalk indicating the way to go. Although we had traversed the route for about 15 laps, Vin took a wrong turn, got so far and doubled back and rejoined the correct path. I wasn't surprised as I had to stop him going the wrong way earlier. Anyway, we remained together until 50 miles when he visited the 1st aid tent for some attention to blisters. It turned out that he had a blood blister which meant they couldn't treat it and they pulled him from the race at that point which was very unfortunate.
I could feel a hot spot on each sole too but I had already applied Compedes (other blister plasters are available) and changed my shoes but it wasn't easing. At 60 miles I decided that a visit to the 1st aid tent was in order otherwise I was sure I wouldn't be able to finish.
The Dutch 1st aid guys were positively anti-blister plasters and said as much whilst happily ripping off the ones welded to my feet. This was highly unpleasant. They then taped the blistered area with adhesive tape of various widths to create a "second skin". I must admit I was dubious but the guy who meticulously applied said dressings was adamant that it would do the trick and I'd be fine. I lost nearly 40 minutes there but, as it turned out, it was worth it.
Getting going again was tough. My legs had seized and my feet were tender. My head wasn't much better as I set off somewhat gingerly.
In every event, long or short, you will experience mental low points. I have harped on about this in most posts and whilst sounding negative, it is simply a fact and something that has to be dealt with. To say I was low at this point was an understatement. My body felt wrecked, both feet were in bits, the humidity was rising, it was dark and I had lost all mental focus.
I chose to do a lap and see how the bandaged feet coped. It was slow until my seized legs got going again and I became accustomed to the discomfort of both feet. That lap blended into the next which blended into the next. At 70 miles however, I knew that my feet would hold out and that I would finish. Quite a bold thought with 30 miles to go but nevertheless, I was sure.
The remaining laps didn't get any easier but with each lap, there was one less to do and as that number decreased, my spirits lifted.
I was elated to finally cross the finish line and to become continental centurion number 400.
I know the others suffered just as much as I did and it was down to sheer bloody mindedness that Jane, Jayne, Ed and Louise overcame the hot and humid and frankly hideous conditions to become continental centurions.
None of us would have finishes but for the fantastic support given to us by Teri Waddington and Dale Farquhar and latterly Vin and Simon too. Great support is a necessity and they were brilliant!
Simon succumbed to sicknesses and unfortunately had to withdraw.
The dodgy ankle which I have been struggling with for a couple of months now was complaining after around 20 miles but lasted until it gave up at 99 miles and I hobbled to the line. Sore and swollen now though but it got the job done.
The Isle of Man was well represented at this event and the cameraderie which is always evident at walking events on the island was prevalent here.
During the event there weren't many pleasant moments and at the end I stated the famous "never again" phrase. Now that the pain and mental anguish are diminishing, hindsight indicates that "it wasn't that bad". Hmmm.
That will be the mind playing tricks again because I know it was hideous and I'm sure the others will back me up.
IoM walkers on tour did well again! Go us!
Before the start L-R Jock Waddington, Simon Cox, Jayne Farquhar, Ed Walter, Jane Foster, Louise Smith and Vinny Lynch.