It's the LAMM, the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon. Day 1. Between checkpoints 4 and 5 Duncan and I were faced with a route decision from hell. Like choosing between being hit by a speeding truck or being repeatedly, but slowly, reversed over by a SmartCar. The former choice was a brutal 700 metre ascent, a sledge-hammer blow to a dehydrated body under a cloudless June sky, the latter just meant going a long, long way. We bit the bullet and committed to being hit by the truck, at least once it's over, it's over.
For the first time ever, I started to feel bad. Not just tired, but empty. In past races, when ever I've felt low I've just munched some jelly babies, had a drink, told myself to man up and dug into my reserves. This time, it wasn't happening. My reserves were exhausted, long gone, nil. Infuriatingly, Duncan didn't seem to be too fussed and kept moving. "Why won't he stop?" I wanted to scream. I wanted to blub. I wanted to add my inevitable tears to my inevitable vomit. I wanted someone to make it all go away.
Hours later we hobble into the overnight camp, by now Duncan's pains have caught up with him, and together we shake and shuffle our way through the crowds to Chad and Konnie's tent. They look smug, rehydrated and refreshed, placed 2nd out of 33 teams in A class. We're 16th. Much better than I had expected, but it won't make the hollow feeling go away.
Never under-estimate the restorative powers of eating, drinking and sleeping. Bright and breezy next morning (actually, not breezy, as the latest fashion in midge nets testified), we were up and at it once more. Judicious use of wound dressings, climbing tape and compeed held our blistered feet together, and gamely we hobbled on. Somehow, the emptiness and apathy of the day before had been replaced by a sprightly spring in my step, much to Duncan's later dismay, and I felt high as a kite. Maybe it was from knowing that despite Saturday being a slow nightmare, we still made a fairly respectable place.
By the end Duncan was looking a bit ragged, having rubbed a hole through his compeed and back into his blister, but annoyingly for him I had racing fever. All I wanted was game over, so we just dug deeper, ran faster, and eventually, crossed the line in 13th position. Chad and Konnie had dropped to 4th place - still very good, but dissapointing for them, after Konnie's feet eroded into bloodied stumps. Rumour has it he was heard whimpering - for the first time, the mighty Pole was felled.
Holy Compeed: Duncan's bloodied stump.
Sexual heeling: Mr Rawlik's war wounds.
Our heros: (l-r) Duncan, Konnie and Chad during post-match analysis. Yes, Chad is wearing short shorts.