In my previous Blog Post I wrote about Paul’s 100 mile Ultra Marathon (you can read that here). This post continues with recollections from his epic run.
The L2M route took Paul and the other runners along stretches of the Pennine Trail towards the half way point in Didsbury Manchester before heading back out to the start point at Aintree in Liverpool.
As I said in my earlier post, I’m not a runner, but it seemed to me that Paul was in good shape and pretty much keeping to his ‘plan’ in the early stages.
The stops seemed to be working well and by the time we had reached the third stop I more or less had my routine sorted – which essentially involved unpacking, laying the stuff out, advising Paul on distances and timings etc then packing up and moving onto the next stop. In between times I kept the social media feed up to date and made frequent ‘phone calls to Paul and all was progressing well. By the time we had got to the Warrington stop there was plenty of family support waiting to meet him, which I know meant a lot to Paul. Sarah and the children were there with my wife and nephew Andy.
The children had made posters to hold up as Paul approached the Check Point and they thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of seeing Uncle Paul arrive.
Once he had made his stop and headed off, Andy stayed with me for the next few stops and in fact right until the early evening stop in Chorlton on the home leg, where the family support gathered again after all being there for him, along with one of his colleagues (Norma) at the Didsbury mid way point.
The mid way stop was much longer than others as it was a time for Paul to ‘re-fuel’ and generally get himself together before embarking on the return leg- we were all trying to get our heads around the fact that at this stage Paul had already almost ran two marathons!
Refreshed and ready Paul set off – along the way he had undertaken hat changes and footwear changes to take account of the changing conditions – and at that stage seemed set to continue at what (to me) seemed an incredibly impressive pace.
As the evening set in and the inevitable tiredness and fatigue started to hit Paul, the pace slowed. As the light started to go and before leaving Manchester the family were all with him at the return stop in Chorlton, after that it was a case of Paul heading off into the night on his own, needing to call on his experience and mental strength to continue.
Basically he ran, and ran and ran … and then ran some more.
There were undoubtedly some difficult moments for Paul, and at times and not unreasonably the pace dropped – for me it was simply a case of keeping awake and being in the right place at the right time, for Paul it was a case of one more step, and then one more and then another as the mileage covered increased and the mileage to the finish line got tantalizingly close – I can recall when we somewhere around the Mere area thinking he’s on the home straight now and not too far to go, before checking myself when I realised that actually the not too far was still just about another marathon distance!
I think it was around midnight when Paul teamed up with another runner, a terrific guy called Dave and together they supported each other through the early hours and onto the home straight and ultimately the finish.
To me it seemed that Paul was in really good shape as he and Dave arrived at the Spike Island stop and at that point I felt pretty confident that they would be making a really strong finish, but it wasn’t to be that straightforward
I don’t know what the technical term is – but they reached a point, perhaps their lowest point, when it took the most incredible determination and effort for them to keep moving – but they did, and even though their pace had slowed I was now very very certain they would finish, Paul’s wife, children and I brought forward a meeting point, just a mile or so in advance of the final Checkpoint and thankfully using Google Locations we were able to find them on the trail and make a suitable refreshment intervention that was to prove enough to see them to the finish.
The final stage wasn’t without incident though and around 6.5 miles from the finish they came across another runner who was on the ground and had needed to give up, they got her wrapped in a foil blanket and I ended up meeting up with them to collect her and take on to the finish line where she was fairly promptly whisked off to hospital in an ambulance, she wasn’t in great shape and I was gutted for her – 93 miles done and so close to completion.
Paul and Dave pushed on and the set of pictures below tell their own story of what by any measure was a fantastic achievement.
All in all it had been a decent weekend, Paul had achieved his dream of doing the Ultra, I’d learned a lot about how it all works and an insight into just what it takes and the Tameside charity OKE will benefit to the tune of £1,300 or so.
It wasn’t quite over though – as later that evening my wife and I called over to Paul’s to present him with a suitable cake to mark his incredible effort – so whilst Paul had been grafting on the trail, Pat had been creative in the kitchen – we finished the day off with a glass of fizz.
Quite simply, quite well done Paul.