Monday, 8 August 2011

DOTH 2011

I was not going to blog about this one but when Tim asked me at the prize-giving if another report can be expected of how difficult it is to support Thomas, I thought I’d better set the record straight!

I had set him the “small task” of getting a “podium spot” considering in what great shape he was up to 2 weeks before the race. Then we went to Germany for one week for my parents’ Golden Wedding which turned out to be a physically and emotionally draining trip due to other family issues. The Golden Wedding itself went well though! So by the time we were back home Thomas had 1 week to recover and get ready for the Devil’s.

I had not mentioned a “podium spot” again and was just hoping he could get to his target of sub 6 hours, whatever the position. We drove up to Tyndrum on Friday after work, got into our B&B and met up with Marco & Debbie and Team Kynaston. We were hoping John would have an enjoyable race but it was not to be. When John asked Thomas what his goal was, a few Hmms and Ahas were heard when he said he was going for a sub 6 schedule. Well, he not only proved that that was realistic but in fact exceeded his own best expectations in the end! And that is amazing in itself as he usually knows very well what he can do and what his best result might be. He also had told me that Matt was the favourite and the one to beat.

After a fairly good night’s sleep we headed over to the start and before I knew it the race was on its way. Waiting in Bridge of Orchy did not take too long as Thomas arrived in the lead bang on his schedule. So I knew he must be feeling good and was excited seeing him in the lead closely followed by Paul Hart. I heard other people saying, bloody hell there is the first runner already, and felt quite proud that I was supporting him! (photo above by Suse Hutch)

I had to dash off quickly to Inverornan where he was storming down the hill. I had a brief chat with Bill, who had been airlifted out of Rowardennan during the Fling and is now back running up to 10M again and planning his next season of ultras already! Great recovery! Then I really had to speed to Victoria Bridge, jump out of the car, get the refill ready. I had to enrol a few innocent bystanders, Muriel on this occasion, as I was lacking 2 more hands to offer him a bit of solid food. Paul Hart overtook him here but further along on Rannoch Moor he was back in the lead.

On to Glencoe where Peter was joining me as 2nd support crew member. He had told him to be there for 8:15am. At 8:05 he was storming down the hill, 10min ahead of schedule with Peter arriving just in time to refill his bottle. Again 2 innocent bystanders were helping out (Thanks again! Also for the photos Suse.) Before we knew it he was through and we were running up to the car park to get to the bottom of the staircase in time. A speedy refill and refuel, no time for talking and on to Kinlochleven. It was getting rather warm, great for us but maybe not so great for the runners. We met Matt’s partner again who was fighting her own battle looking after his leaking water bladder (which we tried to repair with all sorts incl tape and Compeed) and driving a car that was slowly but surely overheating itself!

Before long Thomas came into sight, still leading though saying that Matt was closing in. It’s your day! Go for it! I shouted and off he went. But sure enough Matt was not far behind now and Paul seemed to stop for a bit longer at the car. We found out later that he dropped out here. On to Lundavra and Peter and I were keeping our hopes up that Thomas would still be going through first though we also thought it would be difficult.

We had just arrived at Lundavra when we spotted the first runner. But it was not Thomas. It was Matt. We cheered him on (“You are going fast!”) and whispered “Too fast”! and offered him water as his support was not there. But he was fine and looked strong. Thomas arrived only 3-4min after him. He was asking if anyone was behind him but we really did not know. So off he went after Matt. When we walked down to the car we saw Matt’s support running up and we told her she had missed him. She tried to speed after him and was out of sight, her car literally abandoned at the bottom of the hill, doors wide open, bonnet open, steam coming out … We had visions of her trying to catch Matt until Fort William, but luckily he spotted her and told her he did not need anything.

Then we arrived at the finish and waited for the winner! Could it be Thomas?

Then we saw Matt coming towards the finish crossing the line only 10min out of record pace. Well done! He is such a nice guy and great runner that our very slight disappointment could not last long. Congratulations to him!

Thomas followed only 3min later and was very happy crossing the finish line. The time is fantastic, much faster than he would have guessed himself and a fantastic 2nd place. I was very excited for him and very proud of him for such a great performance!

So how to sum up what might have been my last official WHW support duty for a while?

It was a delight to support him! He was on his best behaviour. In fact he had his best run ever and his best result ever. He was flying through the support “stops”. He took on his task of a podium spot and delivered! So no complaints from my side, apart from the small issue of 3 minutes … :-)