I felt as if I were leaving home—a home I both loved and hated. A home where I couldn't bear to stay and couldn't bear to leave. And there is always so little fuss at the end of these races!
I need to ponder this six day race before I can write properly. In some ways it was easier than a 48 hour race—for a start, I got to sleep—and in other ways much, much harder.
But this bit can't wait—because when I am running, it is so hard to communicate how much I appreciate everything that others are doing for me. Thank you to:
- my wonderful crew, Carol Russell and Chris Knowles. Both of you are phenomenal runners with a strong history of crewing and I'd recommend you for any crew duties. There is no way this sport is an individual one, and you guys made the perfect team. No way would I swap you. (But I'll add Ruth once she's available—and she gets a special side mention for lending me her husband for a week!)
- my brilliant friend and future dietitian, Mandy Noble, who not only wrote my nutrition plan but also answered every question my crew sent during the six days, and kept checking up on me when she didn't hear news. I think it's the combination of being an elite ultra runner, a scientist, and a mum—wrapped together with passion and intelligence—that makes you so good at what you do. Your nutrition plan worked so perfectly that aside from the shin pain, I had no muscle soreness the whole time. The massage therapist was amazed.
- the medical team: Rebecca, Michael (whom my crew hassled at all hours), Jens (who never signed up for the gig, but saw we needed help and stepped in), and Susan. One word for your work: wow. You all worked so hard to keep the runners on track (literally) and it's no coincidence that many runners attributed their final results to your awesome work. And I'm not using 'awesome' lightly—on more than one occasion, you worked miracles for me.
- my old and new friends at the course—you all had a kind word for me when I was struggling through severe shin pain. It's a special kind of friendship that forms at these events, and it's the reason why even if you're crew-less, you're still part of a team—we get each other through these races. I can't speak for everyone, but I believe I speak for most of us when I say there is no pleasure in this game without seeing our friends reach their potentials. The usual suspects were all there—crazy bastards like Billy and Barry L and Kevin—and the wonderful SARRC guys, especially Barry M and Matt, who are like long-lost brothers for me. Special mention to Karen B for the laughs, Sarah for keeping me honest, Dave for the heckling and banter about our relative positions—you certainly pushed me to a higher total—and to Vlastik and John, who freely shared their knowledge and experience with less experienced runners. (And I stole John's wear–a–towel idea. Brilliant!)
- a super special mention goes out to Annabel and Karen C who have been my race sisters for several events now, and are always so supportive, kind and gracious, no matter what they're going through (e.g. horrendous shin pain or the world's nastiest sunburn)—two absolutely beautiful women who don't mind getting a little feral when it's called for. Another special mention to Cassie, who should've been there—we missed your smiles and your determination.
- those of you who kept in touch throughout the race. I'm sorry I couldn't respond to everything on Facebook, but my crew gave me a rundown and it gave me a real lift. Extra special thanks to those of you who took the time to call or send a text message—I loved reading them before nap time.
- everyone else at the venue—other runners' crews; the race staff, who took excellent care of us; the randoms who came along to see the freak show (some of whom kept coming back to check up on us); the council security guard for not locking the toilet block; and everyone else that I've probably forgotten.
- my parents, who think I'm totally mad, but still picked my whole team up from the airport late at night. Love you guys!
That's enough for now, and I apologise to those whom I failed to mention. It is definitely my failure, because you were all so wonderful and made a significant contribution to my achievement.