Crawley A.I.M. Charity 6 and 12 Hour Track

I awoke to heavy rain, at 5:40. Twenty minutes before my alarm was set.  After a breakfast of cereal bars and a banana, I checked out of the hotel and made the short walk to the K2 leisure centre with my rucksack. On arrival I found the track and registered.  I left my rucksack at the top of the bleachers where there was some cover to keep my spare clothes dry.  I then placed a water bottle and a bag of food at the outside of the track near the start line.

The race is run in aid of a charity that is building a school in Uganda, in a small fishing village. Timing was a manual affair and we were introduced to a lap counter who would write the time down every couple of minutes, as we past the start line.  I had a friend coming later to help out with this. We were introduced to James Zarei, who is a 2 time winner of the Spartathlon. A race I plan to do in 2016 as a 50th birthday present to myself. The race was started by James at 7 minutes past 7. Nothing significant in the time, it was just that we weren’t ready until then.

So we are running around a 400 meter track for 12 hours.  It went a bit like this. I ran for 2 minutes. Looked across to see my lap counter had seen me and then…. I ran for 2 minutes. I nodded at my lap counter.  I ran for 2 minutes…12 hours later a whistle (or horn, I don’t remember now) went and we stopped. That’s the short version!

The slightly longer version, with musings goes a bit like this; (Please note timings may be out of synch with real time. This all happened, but the order wasn’t stored in my brain.)We started in heavy rain, which lasted for about an hour.  Then the sun came out and it was a pleasant day for running.  I had a pacing plan and a target. I wanted to average 10 minute miles and complete 72 miles. 4 laps of a track is 1 mile, so the maths are easy.  Run laps in 2 and ½ minutes and you will do 10 minute miles.

So I ran my first lap. I looked at the clock and saw I had managed 1:50 ish.  I felt good so I carried on at this pace. so I started at 7:20 minutes per mile. Way to fast!  I was flying around the track and enjoying it.  After about an hour I thought I should try to slow to 2 minute laps. Ideally I wanted to run at about 2:15 to 2:20 to start with.  Knowing I would slow later, but I couldn’t get myself to slow down.  I am waiting for the lap sheet, which is being posted to me, so I can do some analysing. I think I had PB’s for a Marathon, 50 miles and 100km.

As the rain stopped I removed my raincoat and chucked it on the track side where my food was.  Then off came my long sleeve shirt.  After a couple of hours Mike turned up and took over my lap counting.  At about 4 hours I went to my rucksack and changed shirts.  For some reason around this time I got bloody nipples. This was pointed out by the Consani crew who offered to find me some plasters.  I hadn’t noticed!  I turned down the offer of plasters and then it started to hurt, so the next lap I slapped some Sudocrem on and that sorted it for the rest of the race.  

At 6 hours we completed the lap we were on and as we crossed the start line we turned around and finished the race running the wrong way around the track. 8 hours in I changed shirt again. My 3rd Centurion 100 mile finishers t-shirt.  Marco Consani decided to call me Mr Centurion from then on. 

At about 10 hours Mike said I was 1.5 miles behind 4th place. I could see he was running faster than me so knew I couldn’t catch him. All I had to do was stay in front of 6th, who was 3 miles behind and walking, although he did pick it up and cracked off a few fast laps near the end. That just meant I had to run a bit, again. Just before 12 hours we were given a stick with our race number on it. At 12 hours you stop and put the stick in the ground where your back heal is.

During the whole event I talked to all the 12 hour runners and this took away any potential boredom.  Not that I can get bored running.  I like to switch off and zone out. Running is my relaxation and unwinding tool.

With about 5 minutes to go we were informed Debbie Martin Consani was close to the British record, which she ran on to achieve with 129.171 km.  I felt so lucky to be able to witness this and to be on the same track.

A great event and an honour to run with some excellent athletes.

Lessons learnt:  Pacing and pacing!

111.642 km
5th (3rd Male)

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