After that awful failed attempt due to heat exhaustion -back in the Jurassic coast in June, (that was my 3rd attempt on a 100 miller) I was starting to get really fed up about not being able to complete this distance. As soon as I came back home, researched another 100 miler this year that’s how I - signed up for the WW100, doubled my training efforts … again! and decided to give it another go this year.
Weeks before I had been tracking the weather of course, and it looked like the story was about to be repeated. The race will be on during one of the hottest days of the year, but this time I was going to be ready. Lots of pre-race hydration, my packing was very well thought out with lots of salty treats, salt tablets, and sugary bits. My running kit was well planned too, bought a lighter hydration vest, got a white hat, and light sleeveless top. I was going to give myself the best chance and give a good fight this time.
The adventure started on Thursday morning when the A-team ( Andy , Chato ) and I, made plans to drive down to Marlborough a 6 hours drive down south of England. We arrived to a very beautiful town, full of local pubs , and restaurants. Arrived late evening, grabbed dinner, and off to bed.
Friday was all about resting, hydrating, had a bit of a walk around the town, off to bed early, and alarm set for 6 AM
RACE DAY – Of course, I was awake even before the alarm went on, it was so hard to sleep, due to the nerves but also because it was already so hot, sticky, humid and uncomfortable. Normal race prep, coffee, and this time I added a cold freezing shower, trying to get my core temperature as low as possible. Toilet break as always, right on time. And the dreadful walk to the start line.
Pick up race number, tacker, and timing chip, waited for last-minute briefing and the nerves kicked in. I am a crier at a start line, is the nerves, the anxiety, the countdown for what you know , it will be a long long day, not knowing what unexpected curve balls will bring but one thing is sure, it will be VERY painful.
3..2…1 Magically, nerves are gone the moment it starts….. all disappears, the start was a busy one, with 50 Km, 50 Mile and 100 Mile runners starting at the same time.
150 Registered runners… only 105 started ( the heat wave had already taken people down before it even started)
39 for the 50 kms- 40 for the 50 Miles- 27 for the 100 Miles
The first KMs went easy, I was a fresh morning, and I started moving well. As the day progressed the sun started to come out and you could really start feeling the humidity building up. I kept drinking and eating just as planned even though the least I wanted was a warm Soreen I just kept chucking it in with a gulp of water.
One of my favorite parts of the whole route was Cherhill , seeing one of the white horses and climbing up to see it up close. By this time the sun was on full beam, and we were all struggling.
If there is something I love about trail running, is the community, as I turned the corner, there was this car with the booth open, offering ice lollies and a bucket full of ice. Of course accepted that lollie, took as much ice as possible, wrapped it with my bandana, and tied it to my neck.
BEST FEELING VIBES – and in the middle of a scorching day , I felt I was invencible as the ice kept melting and dripping into my back and shoulders.
Next stop was also one of my favourites, the Avebury Stones! Such a magical place. I need to go back at some point, such an iconic place. Very busy with lots of tourists visiting the site.
Next stretch and I can finally get to see the crew, it was a slow slow section, the heat was starting to take a toll, lots of grass and steady uphills, I arrived to the CP one hour late according to plan. My mind started to doubt if I could really keep going. But it was in that moment were I made a pact with myself. We were not going to retire, if the organisers didn’t cut me off, I was going to keep moving, no matter what.
Took a bit of time to scare those demons away, changed my clothes for dry ones, grabbed my headtorch, and got ready for the night section.
The next section was flat, through the canal path, as the night fell , we navigated through the canal, e got some cheers from people along the canal that may know what we were doing. Also got some scary encounters with dogs coming out from their house boats, barking and gruelling at me aggressively, I had to yell twice to the house boat owners to please come out and grab the dog as I needed to pass by.
Not a great start , night sections always make me a bit concerned. Especially when meeting a party boat full of drunk men along the route, asking where I was going, I kept going, earphones on and turning around once in a while.
As the path got quiet I felt relaxed again, I could feel spider webs on my legs on every step and kept whipping them with my hand towel ( best investment and decision to bring it ) .
At this point I knew there were 4 ladies behind me, I was hoping they could get to me fast so we could team up and tackle the night section. I really really dislike navigating alone on unknown routes.
To make it to the next CP we had to cross this really overgrown field. Every time it was time to pass high grass or deep weed, I could feel my legs being bitten by the bad weed and thorny plans. My brain was starting to get tired, and cranky, I did not want to fight thorns and stingy weed!
It was a short section and found the road path, which would take me to the next CP. The wonderful volunteers prepared me some food, soup ( 2 cups) and a hot dog ( which sorry, I discovered I couldn’t eat any dry food anymore) at this point I was 30 min -ish to cut off. They said the group of 4 ladies behind me was 15 min away, I was really tempted to wait for them , but the volunteer told me the next section was mostly roads and easily navigated, I thought I could keep going, again, with the hope they could get to me down the road.
This section was mostly road through towns and country roads, the roads were quiet and kept moving, slow but moving. Arrived at the next checkpoint, was welcomed with a “hurry up you have 30 min” . Hold on a minute, I am waiting on the 4 ladies behind me to catch me so I'm not alone, that’s when the news was revealed… I was the last one on the course. They have stopped at the last CP.
OH no…. my heart broke a little, and as they rushed me to keep moving, I asked them for a soup, coffee , packed a couple of snacks and get going. I was “excited “ to leave this CP as I knew the sun will come up soon.
I was starting to feel pretty tired and if I was moving slow, I just became way slower.. mostly walking.. until I realized I wasn’t going to make the next CP on time. My energy was low and did not want to fight a cutoff that I wasn’t going to make.
I decided to call the organizer, Richard, to let him know that I was 20 min late for the cut-off, and I guess I was out, I checked and an Uber is £35 from here so I'll just go home. So patiently Richard checked my tacker and said - well, if you keep moving you can make the finish within the cut off. I wasn’t very keen in finishing but I told him I’ll make it to the next checkpoint and I’ll decide. I thought at least I might get a ride back.
As I walked the sky started to wake up, and witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises.
Alone, tired, in deep pain, trying to do something epic. With the sun out, me being solar powered, I regained strength . I got to the CP, refilled as fast as I could and I went off. I have failed 3 times, I thought just get to the next one at 142 km , at least if they cut you off there, this will be your longest distance and that alone is a win at this point.
With that on mind, I pushed on to the next leg. With new strength and energy that the morning gives you I decided to give it a go, I knew there was no time for any navigation mistakes as I was cutting it really tight on that finisher cut off of 32 hrs.
But yep I got a bit rerouted, and went through a very overgrown section, with no path, falling, tripping, my legs getting scratched, took a tumble and lost my hat… when suddenly I turned around to discover the path was just 3 steps to my right. What a waste of time and energy, I thought! I was mad sooo mad !
All beaten up, I got to final checkpoint, Andy not knowing what was going on with timings, smiley walked to me with a morning breakfast and coffee, I had to break his heart and started to rush him to fill my water bottles while I changed my top as I was soo chaffed, grabbed a couple of energy bars and gels.
The volunteer rushing me, saying you can't stop much if you really want to finish you have an ETA 31:45 ( cut off is 32 hrs) you really have to run this last section and I knew there was a bit of a climb involved.
Panic set in I had 3 hrs ish and with 15 kms to go with a bit of elevation, I was going to fight till the end, I ran, or “tried” … I kept looking at my watch and kept tripping and getting anxious. Until I decided that I was going to stop looking at the watch, I was going to do my absolute best, there were 10 km to go. I kept telling myself: -I've done 10 Kms 1000000 million times, I can do this, just this is the most important 10 km of your life - no mistakes, just focus and concentrate.
I was going to do my best, so just in case I arrived at the finish and looked at my time and it was 32:02 I knew I gave it my all and I wouldn’t be disappointed with myself.
Full of fear and adrenaline I still managed to get de lost , aghhh – I don’t have time for this ! – The route was on the other side of a barbed-wired fence, without thinking twice, I stepped and jumped the barbed-wired, my leg got stuck and I just pulled it, did a tumble Rambo turn and I was on my feet. Found a lovely lady in her backyard, asked her how to get to the tarmac, she pointed and I ran. She kept screaming if I was all right, I was bleeding.. I screamed and waved back, I'm ok ,, I'm ok.
I prayed that mistake didn’t cost me the race, did cost the 31+ hrs I've invested on this.
Every time my watch beep I counted 9 km to go… beep… 8 km to go… beep, 7 km to go….
Until it was the last 3, those were THE longest 3 kms of my life I even looked at my watch a couple of times thinking, this thing is broken , isn’t moving anymore ! or what?
( beep) 2…. ( beep ) 1 … 700 mtr, 500 mtr… and the last turn… I see the field and the finish line… it was the moment of truth… people cheering…. Are they cheering because of pity that I didn’t make it on time or really cheering….
Took a deep breath and had a glance at the time 31: 25 …. I could feel my body relaxing and my brain in shock, tears started coming out. I did it, I F DID IT !!!
As I approached the finish, the tears turned into full-on cry , I can't believe it, like in the movies, I quick flash of everything I went through crossed my mind… and not only the last 31 hrs, but the last 5 years, the heartbreaks, the workouts, the runs, the struggles… 5 years and today is the day my dream came true I was holding my first 100-mile buckle.
Thank you, volunteers and organizers, what an amazing day , I am so glad I chose this to be my first finisher experience , I know I will remember it forever.
Great beginners route for the 50 km, 50 mile and even 100 miles. Can't miss this great experience, sign up at https://www.whitehorse.run/