I have just come back from a weekend of exciting trail running in Helvellyn in the Lake District that I was privileged to be shortlisted for, along with 100 other runners, by The Trail Team 2014.
We all stand a chance to WIN a 3 day training camp in the Alps as well as £1250 worth of kit from Berghaus. GULP!
That would be something, no more being wet and cold in the winter with some decent all weather lightweight gear …
"Everyone attending the Trail Team weekend had a story."
I always believe everyone has a story; we just need to pause to listen more, take an interest more, just like sometimes we need to pause to take in a view more instead of just running past...
I was lucky enough to be sharing a room with a lady called Lotty (and two equally lovely ladies). I was rattling on about my back, moaning how crippling the long 10 hour car journey to get there had been. They all patiently listened to me. I became aware of what a bore I was sounding. Stop whinging I thought, who doesn’t get back ache at some point in their life? Somehow, the conversation led on to hospital experiences.
Lotty, with her nimble ability to climb up to the top bunk in our room, had told us she hadn’t long started trail running. She was acting very modest. The conversation led on to the lack of support in the NHS for rehabilitation. We all agreed it was crazy that patients only get 15-20 minutes of physiotherapy, something Lotty seemed to know a lot about because she worked for the NHS, but when she casually announced how she had suffered from a stroke only a few years ago, there was a stunned silence.
We all looked at her, and I was aware that I was staring at her trying to spot for lingering signs or left over side effects.... and that is the trouble, we always want visual evidence.
When someone has made a recovery we don’t think about the sacrifices they are still making just because they don’t carry with them a stick, or walk with a limp. In Lotty’s case, she could no longer ride her mountain bike, her first passion, without feeling she was putting herself at risk because her balance had still not fully returned.
Yet, here she was, through her own determination, running on trails because it was the next best thing, it was humbling. Everyone here had a story. I wish I had had more time to hear them all as well as run with these amazing people up the steep mountain climbs.
Quick Random Tip: Michelle, my other roommate, had brought with her, an ULTRA BOX! What a brilliant idea, it was a shoe box filled with goodies you need for Ultras, such as a massage ball and those emergency items us women always need. I am definitely going to make myself one of those and fill it with micropore tape, iodine, superglue, spare batteries, for my head torch, recovery drinks, torq gels, the list goes on. What would you put in your ultra box?
As if making new friends wasn’t enough in itself, we met representatives of Berghaus and Torq, and also were incredibly lucky to meet with running legends Steve Birkinshaw (winner of last year’s Dragon Back race) and Helene Whitaker (outright winner of the first Dragon Back race in the Welsh Mountains in 1992) who both gave us a captivating talk of their experiences.
We also watched the video of last year's race and had a chance to win a Berghaus Vapour Storm jacket, a LED Lenser headtorch or 'LIKE THE WIND' magazine. The magazine is full of all sorts of brilliant running stories guaranteed to inspire and entertain you. I had come across it before at the Trail Ferret Trail Camp Weekend and loved it.
"It was like Christmas for runners."
Of course, now I have sent my registration to the Dragon Back Race (oops!).
And yes, I only ever race in hot countries, so it is with a bit of luck I had a chance to test out Berghaus’ Award Winning vaporlight smock (weighs 86kg) that had been developed for Berghaus Athlete, Philippe Gatta for his 40 day 1700km trek along the Great Himalayan Trail, so I have some idea of the sort of clothing I will need to invest in.
We were also given Torq gels and bars to try out. Ben from Torq shared with us his immense knowledge on nutrition and suggested that thanks to the development of Torq gels that use a 2:1maltodextrin:fructrose mix, you could take up to 90g of carbohydrates an hour which is equivalent to 3 gels, without getting an upset tummy, and so preventing fatigue.
Be interesting to try this out the next time I do a run over 3 hours, besides the apple crumble flavour is ‘to run for!'. Tastes really just like apple crumble!
I broke my back in December, 2008, but earlier that year I had completed the Marathon Des Sables. The training for this is what I believe saved me from permanent paralysis, so there has always been in the back of my mind a wish to one day do the Marathon Des Sables again but return stronger than before, to prove myself capable, a minor bit of unfinished business to see if I can come in the top 100 at least. I just needed the time to be right to enter it.
And sure enough …
It was on first day of the Trail Team weekend. A few of us had opted to be part of a photo shoot for the organisers. Whilst I was waiting to be called to run past the camera (this is harder than is sounds) there was a tap on my shoulder.
Out of all the hundreds of people that could have been at this weekend, was someone called Graham Kelly who remembered me from the 2008, MDS. Someone who knew me from before my accident.
“Ever thought about doing the MDS again?”
“Well, you know who is going to be doing it with me then”, I replied.
His smile said it all. Well, all I needed was a sign...