Well the race of all races is over and I am a little dazed & unsure where to start. That being said I will attempt to summarise the magic of today and how I am feeling now that I have completed the Grandslam. Quick note there is the potential that I maybe gushy, emotional and a little dramatic in this blog – I am feeling the combination of a runners high on rocky sea legs. It 1:20am and 60s music is in the background whilst half the ship is up boozing and the other half are in their cabins fast asleep.
I firstly wanted to say a big hello to the students at Dawul Remote Community School, Doon Doon Station who have been following me. Thank you for your lovely messages and support!!
I was incredibly zonked last night and collapsed into bed very aware of my sore knee – which I think was a result of toight hamstrings. The Rickstar and I woke to the ding dong sound of the PA making the breakfast call. We stumbled out of bed and the buzz in the dining room was the presence of Orca Killer Whales out the window. The boat stopped for a few hours as we watched the Orcas and eventually humpback whales circling the boat. I did this viewing with Lady(Lucy) Tang and Devrim in the Captains Deck and I was given the honour of making my own announcement on the PA when the Orcas began to play/attack a penguin. This deferred our start time as we still had another hours journey to the Island. The boat arrived and the course team headed into the zodiacs around noon and we were given the initial briefing that we needed to be prepared to run until 9pm. I had been expecting a short day so was a little apprehensive about another long day until it clicked in my mind that this was the final stage of the RTP series. BIG DAY!!
Packing the gear and getting dressed for a day in the snow is a lengthy task. Hydropel, layers of clothing, zinc all over the face (which made me look a little grey), hair in pigtails, buff * 2, glacier goggles, gloves, ipod, boots for the zodiac crossing AND then preparing the drop bag. Once completed I went to the dining room where you were able to see the course team setting out the course. Gahhhhh!!!!! it looked pretty intense and it included some VERY sizeable hills & deep deep snow- in fact it took the course team over 25 minutes to mark one hill. Time was passing and I grabbed one of my spare freeze dried meals and chomped on that as it was approaching 2pm- not an ideal time to be starting a run.
We got onto the zodiacs at 2:30 and the race began at 2:55. I was conscious of not drinking too much water today as the only portable toilet was on shore, over 500metres away from the course and down a steep descent (I think everyone held on today). We were running at Dorian Bay which is a penguin colony and the give way to penguin rule was well enforced. Ryan Sandes appeared to blend in with the penguins in his black and white get up and they seemed to know they shouldn’t stop him. As we were running there was a guy on skis cruising around, it looked like such a hoot. As I made my way up the ridge one of the RTP called out to me as there was a mini avalanche over on the mountain to the right of me. It was not in anyway going to impact us but it was definitely worth turning my attention off my foot placement to have a look.
The first two laps of the course were the toughest. The first 10 runners were asked to line up because it would be very difficult to overtake before the snow was broken up & a path created. I was unable to run for the first lap as was everyone else except for a competitor who wore snow shoes! To be honest this stage was not really a runners course due to the snow and the constant hills. Maneuvering your way through the course required absolute focus and I took a few tumbles along the way.
I am unsure of how many laps I did today but I crossed the finish line hand in hand with two fabulous women- Diana Hogan Murphy & Mirjana Pellizzer and the ever steady David Pearse. We all started the day on the same mileage so for someone to take a definite lead they needed to make a ballsy move pretty early & keep with it. Surprisingly I was feeling pretty strong up the hills today and there were a few moments when I was tempted to give it a crack and see if I could create a lead. However my experience from this past year is that the finish line is all the sweeter when you can cross it with the comrades you have shared the week with.
With two hours to go we had a little discussion and made the pact to finish the day together. I am in awe and amazement that I was able to keep up with these three machines & actually lead the pace for the majority of the day – especially as I feel they are in another league physically to me. RTP will find another way to differentiate us in the first, second and third placing – probably based on average lap times (which for the last two stages will be close if not exactly the same).
The finish line was quite surreal and it still hasn’t sunk in that I have finished the race. We dillie dallied around after the race and subsequently the cold weather picked up and we nearly got caught in some horrid weather going back in the zodiacs. Lucy Rivers, Simone Bishop, Ryano, Stan Lee, Jen Steinman, Sevan and I clung to each other as every bone in our body was frozen. I was unable to feel my feet and my hands were completely numb. Crazy again how quickly things can change out here. I arrived back to my cabin with Ricky already in bed trying desperately to get his body temperature back up. I stood in our wee little shower for over 20minutes – so happy we had this luxury. Over 3 hours later & the body isn’t feeling any pain but I’m sure I will be hobbling around in agony tomorrow.
We are now heading back to Ushuaia, which should take a few days- making one tourist stop tomorrow. We are also trying to beat a bad storm that is brewing.Thank you so much for everyone that has written to me. This has been a big year and I am so happy that I have completed it successfully. I read all of your comments twice today and they brought a tear to my eye both times!! Thanks to everyone who has donated to my chosen charity and another call out for those who are able to donate. The Royal Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust does amazing work for those suffering with cystic fibrosis and I am very proud to be running on their behalf.