The race started at 6am Saturday morning and the weather was pretty horrific, rain, rain and more rain. No one wants to get wet at the start of a race whatever the distance but being soaked through in the first few miles an ultra is just awful.
Crewing for a runner means driving from checkpoint to checkpoint meeting up with your runner, making sure they have food and drink, dry kit, and generally look after them for a brief few minutes before sending them on their way.
The weather improved for a brief time during the afternoon but running for hours with wet feet takes it's toll and Lindley's feet were not in great shape, even with shoe and sock changes, but he continued on in good spirits. Drying, cleaning and vaselining feet is one of the less glamorous crewing jobs!!
The early evening saw more rain and thunder, the conditions were not great for the 100 or so runners that had started the race back in Birmingham. At 76 miles Lindley made the tough decision to pull out, not wanting to damage his feet further as he has some tough training ahead for Spartathlon in September.
The highlights for me and there were lots...
Crewing with Sue, Becky and Laura was fun, I learnt lots and how important they are to the runners.
Meeting so many incredible people, ultra runners whose names I knew, had followed their blogs, read their books and had inspired my own ultra running journey.
Watching the determination and willpower of the runners, this ultra running stuff really is as much a mental battle as a physical one.
The crews and volunteers were cheerful, happy to help anyone and welcoming of a newbie to all of this.
This weekend has inspired and excited me, the ultra runners I had looked up to are so down to earth, they have jobs, families and juggle their running with all of that like most of us do. The atmosphere at GUCR was amazing and extremely positive, it's a very low key event but these runners aren't on this journey for fame and fortune, it's not what it's about. These are ordinary people getting out and doing something amazing, pushing themselves beyond what is 'normal' and seemingly having fun a long the way. There were lots of smiles and laughs even when the runners were obviously hurting.
I'm probably going to ramble a bit now but there is lots going on in my head today. I've always been a believer in the saying 'everything happens for a reason' and also that people come into your life for a reason, (if my daughter is reading this she will be shaking her head and giving me one of those looks I get, we have to agree to disagree on this one!). Sometimes we don't know what that reason is, but taking part in Stort30 last year and meeting Lindley has been a major turning point in my running journey. I am truly excited about training hard and completing Challenge Running's Grand Slam this year. A whole new world of ultra running has been introduced to me and I'm excited to be a part of it both as a runner and I definitely want to do more crewing and volunteering.
Thank you to Lindley, Sue, Becky, Laura and everyone else I met for an awesome weekend xx
It's hard to sum up exactly how I'm feeling today but one thing is 100% certain is that next year I really hope that I am on the start line for Grand Union Canal Race to give that 145 mile journey my best shot...