Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Touch the Bird 300

November 2015 I thought Touch the Bird 24 was a brilliant idea, 24hours of running laps of the hill at Great Notley Country Park, it was great, had loads of support and raised lots of money for Moorfields Eye Hospital.

Fast forward to this year, I have joked since hat challenge that the hill is 'my hill' and one parkrun morning I found this at the top! (thanks Mark) it now hangs with my medals at home but it got me thinking, maybe it was time for another challenge...

So Touch the Bird 300 was born! I had completed 265 reps in 24 hours last time, surely an extra 35 wouldn't be much harder! I even planned a better time of year, July, the weather would be good, more hours of daylight etc etc...

On Saturday 29th July at 9am as parkrun started I began my first lap, the weather was as I had imagined, it was summer, the park would be full of people and it would all be lovely!

I was raising money for Bipolar UK this time as my son had been diagnosed the year before and it had turned our lives upside down. Someone said to me during the run that with the up, and the down and the level bit, the laps of the hill represented bipolar somewhat!

I had my friends Andreea and Dan as base camp support, and Mark, who also has bipolar and has been a great support to me, also was there much of the time and clocked up a lot of laps with me especially during the night. Thank you so much for being a great support crew, definitely wouldn't have got through it without you.

150 laps in...

As we got into the afternoon the rain started and my romantic ideas of watching the sunset over the hill disappeared. I had had about 40 people join me at different times to run some laps and I am so grateful for your support. We had some good discussions about mental health too which was great. A special mention to Netty, Joby, Jane, Michelle, Ian, Sandra, the Hawkins family who came back to the park more than once to support me, would be interesting to know how many laps we ran in total between us. Thank you to every single one of you that joined me, you had no reason to spend your weekend with the crazy lady on the hill but I am so glad you did.

Evening supporters!

During the night the rain continued and my feet were soaked, I changed into dry socks and trainers but the second pair were soon soaked too and my feet were beginning to feel a bit sore on the bottoms but it was bearable. I had a few bouts of feeling sick but know it's usually because I haven't eaten enough. Dan was brilliant at force feeding me!

I'm not sure what time it was but we were into Sunday, Dan suddenly said was that lightening, we dismissed it until the clap of thunder arrived. A thunder storm would possible halt the challenge for a while as being on a hill with a giant metal bird in a storm probably was a bit risky but for now we continued as it wasn't overhead. Fortunately the storm stayed far enough away that we could continue but the rain, oh the rain, it poured and poured!

 Touching the bird with it's pretty lights!

Finally the rain did stop and there was a hint of daylight, not the beautiful sunrise I had envisaged but always good to get rid of the head torch. I felt awful between about 4:30am and 7am I just wanted to sleep, I would do a couple of laps and then sit down and tell the guys to let me have two minutes, which they timed to the second and I had to wake up and do a another couple. I was so relieved when we finally go to 250 laps as I felt like I was never going to get there! I have to apologise to Mark, Andreea and Dan for being particularly stroppy during this stage! I think I retired from running at one point!
About seven my head gave up telling me I needed to sleep and with Ian and Joby arriving back at the park I knew I couldn't quit, I had to get through these last laps. As the morning went on more people arrived and my posse grew, I could finish this off!
The weather improved and I changed into my last pair of dry trainers and it helped a bit with the sore feet.

Finally at just before midday I was on lap 300, it was an amazing feeling to complete the challenge! I think I am done with the hill now! So you can all stop with the mutterings about 500 laps!

There were lots of funny moments during the challenge, Marks Klingon opera singing, and lots of other things, some of which need to stay on the hill! One that did make me laugh though was about 6am Sunday morning a dog ran towards us and Mark said oh look normal people are out now,I looked at him and said 'Mark that's a dog!'

One of the best messages was from Ronnie Staton, who said 'it's the same hill as the first lap and that was easy' That was a great one to keep me going up and down and up and down.

The final lap!
So just to finish with some thank yous to everyone who came out and supported me, all those that sent messages of support day and night, everyone that donated money I am almost at £900, the park rangers who let me use the park and have 24 hour access, the loos were great!! Everyone at Great Notley parkrun and junior parkrun.
Just a massive thank you to every one involved.

So what is next... well I have signed up to go back and get Robin Hood 100 finished!!

Happy running xxx

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