| Source: In the footsteps of Pheidipides. Spartathlon Club of the British Isles, newsletter 2009
As close as I have ever come to “never again”
By James Adams
HI All. I'm back in the UK and feeling much better that I did a few days ago. I've never felt so broken from a race.
Saturday night when I'd finished I really didn't see the point in what I had done, my legs were hurting so much, my brain was fried from 15 hours of making panic calculations about not finishing in time and I was pissing blood.
I was hoping that before now I'd have some sort of feeling of elation and satisfaction with finishing, instead I just feel battered, physically and mentally. It is hard to try and justify.
I knew it would be by far the hardest thing I'd ever done but did not expect it to be THAT hard. I had in my head a "plan" do break it 3 sections and do them in 8/10 and 12 hours. The first 50 went fine, passing in about 7.50 and feeling fine. The heat was intense but I was dealing with it well. I went on and headed towards the mountain at 100 miles.
One (of the many) difficult parts of this race is the constant slight up and downs. There are a few sizable hills and a mountain but other than that it is just rolling hills. There is no flat and no rest from having your quads and calves mashed with each incline. Towards 80 miles when it was dark I struggled to run downhill. There is a long descent before the mountain that smashed my quads and I got a nasty shin splint. The mountain itself was hard but I managed to get up it ok.
The descent was awful though, my quads and shin killing me and I went from about 45th to 80th in the space of about 5k. The remaining 50 miles were the same slight ups and downs. I managed to get into a run again and could just about handle slight downhill and slight ups. Somehow I got some sort of bladder problem which meant I was pissing every 5 minutes. It started raining and I got some nasty blisters.
The hardest thing about this race is the constant battle against time. I had built up quite a lead in the first 100 but that was getting eroded every mile as I staggered towards the finish. There is a content mental trauma of trying to calculate how fast you are going and then deciding whether it is enough. Sometimes you work it out that is fine, then 5 minutes later you think that you are way off. I'd never found something so hard.
10 miles from the end my shin felt broken and I had to walk. Luckily I'd had enough time, but if the race was 3 miles longer or if I started walking 5 miles sooner I would not have finished.
I've never seen so many people crying in a race, vomiting or in some cases just collapsing. At the end you are whisked away to the medical tent where you are almost expected to lose consciousness.
The finish however was pretty special. The best finish ever. I could go on about this at length; I'll save it for now.
Obviously I'm going to write about this one at length hopefully some of the good stuff will come flooding back as I do. Thanks for all your updates and comments guys. I really did enjoy reading them when I returned.
Thanks to Gemma for following the race and putting the updates up there and thanks also to Nick for carrying me around Sparta and Athens after the race.
Right now I'm still wondering whether this ultra marathon lark is really my thing. I won't be back next year, maybe in a few years. I think that is too much to put yourself through every 12 months.
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Toevoeging Martien Baars: naast dit korte verslag staan in de Newsletter van dit jaar ook de lange verslagen van Mike Woolley (gefinisht in 34:30:24), Peter Foxall (zijn 12e deelname en nu zijn 2e opgave) en Nick Lewis (opgave ). Plus nog twee lange verslagen van 2008, van de Canadees Darin Bently (toen gefinisht als 11 in 27:51:18) en Andy McMenemy (opgave).
Tevens heeft redacteur Peter Foxall weer het stuk van John Foden uit 1998/1999 herdrukt, The Changing Spartathlon, wat al eerder op UN verschenen is (http://www.ultraned.org/n_item/f1286.php ).
Als geïnteresseerden een exemplaar van de (digitale) Newsletter 2009 over de email willen ontvangen: neem svp contact op met foxallpeter <at> yahoo.com
Een mooi verslag is ook dat van de Amerikaanse Lisa Bliss: http://lisabliss.blogspot.com/2009/11/2009-spartathlon-race-report.html
(opgave in de Spartathlon van 2008 en gefinisht in die van 2009)