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Welcome to my blog which I hope to develop with some interesting material on ultra running both on the trails and road including reports on races and interesting training runs, views on kit and equipment as well as anything else I find of interest. I love running for adventure, opportunity and well being. Enjoy!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Day average - and a long way to go (by Jamie A)

05.45: I'm deeply asleep (as we didn't finish jobs and get to bed until midnight) but am becoming conscious of sturing in the van beneath me. As I slowly wake, the pleasantness of the dream is replaced by the realities of the relentless day ahead. I secretly wish that Jez will hit the snooze button and drift back to sleep, but his motivation (incomprehensible to most of us mortals) to get up and run two marathons back-to-back, day-after-day, makes the lie-in a hopeless fantasy. I pull back the curtain, the only privacy I have between me and the boys, and see that Jez is already up and in his running clothes. The day has begun.

06:00: I'm out of bed and am preparing Jez's breakfast. I'm following advice from nutritionist extrodinaire, Dr Lake, who has encouraged a disciplined regime of carbs, protein and fat. Jez wants toast, mushrooms, eggs and bacon today, as he does most days. I've now got the process of making this down to almost perfect efficiency. As Jez re-enters our tiny mobile abode his food is slid onto the table and he gobbles it all up. The early wake up, stood in front of a greasy and cramped stove is worth it when I see how pleased he is to start the day on a full stomach. Mark and I grab an opportunity to eat breakfast whilst Jez puts his kit together and looks after his feet (which I am sure must be partially machine as they are pummelled for 12 hours a day in wet trainers and seem to be nothing short of immaculate). 

07:00: Jez leaves the van with a smile and starts the day. His chirpyiness completely bemuses me - he is about to run 70km, for 12 hours, through mud and head-height grass, in wet shoes and he has done it every day for two weeks - how can he still be smiling?! We agree our first rendezvous point in 10km. Mark and I let out a deep breath as we equate 10km to an hour and realise that we can sit and have a cup of tea. This is the second tea of the day. Mark makes us all a tea immediately upon waking - i will miss this service when the expedition is over. We don't relax whilst we have the second tea, we have the day's complex logistics to plan, maps and iPads are everywhere. We pack up the van, following or well honed 10 point process. We set off to meet Jez at the 10km point, the path hits an estuary and Jez needs Mark to help him across.

09:00: We arrive at the estuary 30mins ahead of Jez - Mark in his impressive Nissan Sunny and me in the van. The van is called Sheila. Mark scurries around to get the two kayaks ready. When Jez runs up the path Mark is standing ready. I hand Jez a cold coke, and 400g bar of Cadbury's milk chocolate. Jez downs the coke in one, and stuffs half of the chocolate into his mouth in one go, with the carefree lack of guilt that can only come from knowing he can not hope to eat as many calories in a day as he is burning. Mark and Jez disappear into the estuary. I'm now alone and have a race against the clock to be that the exit point in time.

10:00: I swap from the van to the Nissan. It's a serious downgrade that I don't enjoy. I jump on a car ferry, cross the harbour, and drive down unsealed roads for 30mins, with a cloud of dust behind me. These roads are the thorn in my side, the dust goes everywhere. I arrive at the kayak exit, it's in a Mauori reserve. The exit point is photogenic and I know the photography crew will like it. I lay out the support gear under the shade of a tree: coke, sparkling water, chocolate, sandwiches, medical kit, change of clothes, sweets, new shoes, etc. I then set myself up for the perfect photo of Jez and Mark coming up the river with the decaying boats in the background. Mark calls, they are out of the river and wondering where I am. I chose the wrong exit point, they are 100m down the coast. I'm gutted. I pack up everything in a rush, and rush to meet them. The photography crew are not happy. They had been waiting with the crane and camera set up for 2 hours. I worry I have let Jez down.
12:00: Mark and I have loaded the kayaks onto the roof of the Nissan, driven back down the unsealed road, crossed on the car ferry, dropped me back at the van, then done the whole thing in reverse. We are conscious that the longer this takes, the longer Jez will be running without backup. Mark speeds off in the Nissan to meet Jez with the freshly stocked support bag. I find a countdown (supermarket) on the sat nav and rush around with the trolley trying to get everything that Jez has requested within just a few minutes. Other shoppers wonder what this POM is doing shopping in such a rush, and watch in bemusement. I am embarrassed at the counter when the check out lady sees a trolley full of butter, crisps, sweets, isotonic drinks, and all full fat. I think how different this shop is to my calm meandering at home, finding all of the 'light' products at Waitrose on Tower Bridge. I miss home. I miss my friends, above all I miss my the relationship that I only just started before coming out here. No time to day dream, I need to get to Jez ASAP. I rush to the van, throw in the $200NZ of shopping, whilst wondering if I spent too much.  I rush off to the 30km point as agreed. It's 40mins drive along a very windy road which the camper van doesnt enjoy. The fridge bursts open around a bend and makes a mess everywhere. I'm sleepy. I drink a red bull to stay awake. Jez texts "All well, hungry, cheese on toast would be great matey".

14:00: I pass Jez on the road. He is still smiling. We chat through the cab window briefly about the attractive Kiwi architecture of the beach houses. I rush to the agreed meeting point. Mark is already there and is laying out the support kit with an efficiency that only comes from having done this several hundred times in the past two weeks. I make up cheese on toast under the awkward gas grill. Jez will turn up soon, but we dont know when. It's hard to keep the cheese melted but not burnt and just right for when he turns up. He arrives a little later than expected, hot and tired. He eats the lunch quickly and again I feel rewarded for the crazy day so far. Three pieces of cheese on toast, half a bar of chocolate, crisps, a banana, fizzy water, rice pudding, and, of course, a cold coke, then he is off again. It's at this point, watching him run off and up the forest track, I am hit by an strong sense of admiration for his relentless drive and mental strength. 

15:00: I meet up with Jez at the agreed point at the summit in a local reserve. I'm ready to do a forest hike with him. It's hot and humid but I enjoy the descent. Jez's pace is comfortable as he can't risk an injury in the slippery mud. I enjoy or chat about school days and business challenges. We know each other so well after 20 years as close friends that conversation is always easy and meaningful, and silence equally comfortable. He is making good progress today.

16:00: Mark and I repeat the kayak logistics to get Jez across another water crossing. We drive 40km around the estuary whist Jez runs 10km to reach the same point. I am envious of the simplicity of his day compared to ours. Then I think about it a bit more and my envy subsides. I want to do some exercise today and try and figure out how I could fit it in, then i give up hope for such luxuries when I remember that there is a bag of sweaty and stinking clothing in the footwell behind me. I grab the map to find a camp site near by to do the washing. There is a lot to wash and I don't want it hanging around in the humid van.

18:00: I scour the map for a pleasant spot to spend the night. I wanted to stay in a camp ground as we can have hot showers, power and internet. But the nearest one is 10km away, and that is too far off the route. I find a picnic spot off the road and park up by a steam. I clean the van from top to bottom - this is a job that I do several times a day as our tiny home very quickly decends into anarchy unless it is carefully looked after. 

19:00: I grab the bike and cycle up the road for 10km until I see Jez. By now he is tired and counting the kms to the van. I give him a coke. He runs in silence as I cycle behind. I try to encourage him that the van isn't that far. I feel guilty that I parked further along than agreed to get a better spot.

19:45: Jez is visibly relived to be back and immediately takes off his shoes and jumps into the shower. After a brief panic I am pleased that I remembered to turn on the hot water. I start knocking up a spaghetti bologaise. It's quite a chore making this in the small kitchen. I'm really tired so go to my secret wine store at the back of the van, hidden beneath all of Jez's snacks. I pour a glass and enjoy it whilst I cook. By the time the bologaise is ready I feel a little light headed and start making jokes that, upon reading their responses, I realise are not on the same level of consciousness of Mark and Jez. I make a note to keep quiet. I serve Jez up with a super large portion of dinner and cover it in cheese.

20:30: We are tantalisingly close to the beach, but there are so many chores still to do. I am desperate to have a swim so I grab my towel, and escape from the van for 15minutes. The beach is empty and breathtakingly beautiful. I really enjoy these 15minutes of time to just have fun, and have some space - the first free time in the day.

21:00: After sharing the washing up with Mark, which is quite a challenge in a tiny sink, Jez asks for the day's photos. I run through what I took during the day, hoping there are a few that are good enough for the blog and the TNF website. I edit them, resize them and hand them to Jez on a memory stick.

21:30: All jobs finished. It's an early night tonight which I need. As I lie in bed, in a tight space above the cab with insufficient head height to sit upright, I feel a great sense of achievement as I look at the expedition notice board and see how much progress Jez is making. We are almost 1/4 of the way already and I have mixed emotions - i cant think if i am pleased to be a bit closer to going home, or sad that the expedition is going so quickly. I sneakily tether to Jez's iPhone hot spot so that I can use what'sapp and catch up a little with friends and a loved one. I check BBC news and, disillusioned, I realise why I promised myself to stop checking BBC news. Tomorrow is a long day. I look up and see the photo of the Dalai Lama I posted above the bed. I fall asleep with a smile.


Steven Morris said...

What a great post Jamie. Well done! Nicky is so impressed, which is not easy to do. Just ask Mark. Keep it up . You guys are doing a fantastic job in supporting Jez.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fascinating :)

daniel wastell said...

Jamie, keep your chin up your doing a great job! Not many people could do what you're doing everyday. On Sports Personality Of The Year all the athletes stated that they could not have succeded without the people behind the scenes like you. So remember that matey. Good luck and keep going, Dan

gem said...

Jamie such a fab and insightful post, brilliant. You and dad are amazing, I know Jez appreciates everything you are both doing so so much- the trip couldnt happen without you and your constant, unconditional support. love gem xx

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of hard work!
'Whatever joy there is in this world, all comes from desiring others to be happy. And whatever suffering there is in the world all comes from desiring myself to be happy'
Keep going- you'll be sad when the adventure's all over!

Jennie B said...

Jamie, Well done on the post! You and Mark are amazing in your appointed roles! All credit to you both for supporting Jez in his epic endeavour. We're proud of you all.

John Kynaston said...

Great support and thanks so much for taking the time to write it up. It's really interesting to see what goes into supporting a challenge like this.

Martin Yelling said...

Awesome Jamie. Thanks for sharing. Forget Jez, your job sounds much tougher! Your team effort is inspiring. Nice one.

Shirley Colquhoun said...

I enjoyed reading this. Of course I have never attempted any challenge so awesome as this one of Jez's, but it serves as a reminder to be truly grateful to all the support crews who have assisted me over the years. I know Jez will be supremely thankful to you and will value the time you are spending together, creating lifelong memories. Good luck to all of you, and congratulations to Jez.

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