Friday, 23 July 2010

Trailwalker photos

Here are some photos I've got from the last weekend's race.

Pre race posing:

Checkpoints stuff

Coming into the finish


Done and looking like a mess. But happy.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Trailwalker 100 km

On Saturday we (being the all-girls team called Gurkha Girls) ran the 100 km race called the Trailwalker. The race took us along the trail called the South Downs from a a small town in Hampshire called Petersfield to outskirts of seaside city Brighton. The scenery surrounding this race was absolutely beautiful and there were many times when I slowed down and looked around thinking "This is so beautiful". The race is organised by Oxfam and the Gurkha Regiments (in which Shaun serves) with the aim to raise money for both Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust. The aim is to have a team of 4 who will start and finish the race together. Some teams just walk whilst the others are really competitive and run the whole way. This year there were around 320 teams taking part. Each team has a support vehicle which waits for its team at each of 10 checkpoints carrying team's food, spare clothes and anything else one might want.

Our team, the Gurkha Girls consisted of 3 wives and a fiance of Gurkha officers. Our support team consisted of Gurkha officers and soldiers who were not deployed to Afghanistan. And let me tell you we had THE BEST support crew anyone could want.
Our strategy was to walk the hills and run everything else. And we certainly stuck to that strategy. But don't think that the hills were easy. Some of them would send my heart rate into zone 5 just by walking up them. Some of them were brutal.

When the things got tough all we had to do is think of the hard jobs that our husbands do out in Afghanistan and that kept us going. We were doing well. When we started we said we would love sub-18 hour finish but would be happy with anything up to 20 hours. Half-way through the race we were on course for 15 hour finish. Our support crew and the volunteers at the checkpoints were impressed. They all expected us to be these housewives who would take 25-30 hours (30 hours is cut-off time) to finish. Noone expected us to go this quick. At about 70 km in a mixed team of two men and two women passed us and said "Are you the Gurkha Girls"? We said we were and they replied "We have heard about you at the checkpoints and have been trying to catch you for hours." That made us smile.

Because I had most experience in endurance racing I tried to keep the girls motivated, help, talk and do all the things I thought may be helpful. I have been told that apparently my favourite line is "It's not that bad". Apparently I would run up some inclines and the girls would be like "Technically, this is a hill. We should walk", to which my reply was "Come on, it's not that bad".

Just after 10 pm we were getting very close to the finish line. We could see the lights in the distance. We knew our support crew was there waiting for us. We crossed the finish line holding hands knowing that we have done it for Neil, Josh and Cpl Pun who lost their lives last week fighting for our country.

It took us 16 hours and 12 minutes to get to the finish line. We were 2nd female team and 24th team overall. Our support crew was thrilled. They have, by the time we saw them, already somehow sent the message to the guys in Afghanistan telling them how well we did. When we crossed the line and saw them they told us how much the guys in Afghanistan were proud of us. We burst into tears. What we did that day is nothing compared to what our husbands do every day. This was our way of saying thank you.

Thursday, 15 July 2010


I have been meaning to write this blog post for few days now and I had in my head a topic of writing about the ironman training and how great the rest week seems because the longest workout was 2 hours. But that just seems so trivial and irrelevant to me. On Tuesday life and the way I see life has changed forever.

On Tuesday we got news of three people from Shaun's unit being killed. Two officers and one soldier. I did not know the soldier but I did know the officers very well. I will not talk about how we found out and how we felt but what I will say is that in those moments the only people you actually want to spend time with are other spouses and girlfriends who are going through the same thing. Tuesday was hard. None of us have spoken to any of our other halves and I just felt helpless and numb. I didn't eat anything on Tuesday and could hardly sleep. Yesterday was not much better - I made it to work but I only stayed for couple of hours because all I did was staring at my computer screen doing absolutely nothing.

It is amazing how life changes in a second. You loose focus and nothing, apart from family and friends, seems important. Suddenly training and racing are totally irrelevant and reading blogs is the last thing on your mind. You start thinking how people are ignorant because they don't know what is going on. But it is no one's fault really and you can't blame anyone because why should people know any of that stuff. Why should they feel the way you feel? Until Tuesday morning I used to count the days until Shaun gets back home on R&R. I have stopped doing that. Now I just take each day as it comes.

I woke up this morning and thought that I would feel this day was a success if I stayed at work the whole day and not cry at all. It is mid-day and I am trying my hardest to make this a successful day. But I can't stop thinking about Josh and Neal and how young they were and how the whole life was still in front of them. We will miss you so much guys and the parties in the Officers' Mess will never be the same. We are so proud of you and everything you've done to keep us safe.

And even though you will be sorely missed you will never ever be forgotten. Jai 1RGR!!!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Well few things have changed since the last time I wrote. The main thing is that I am not NOT doing IM Louisville. I thought about it for a very long time and i have decided to do a local ironman distance race here in the UK called The Big Woody . The reason behind it is that Shaun will be in the UK for two weeks during that time and I realised that he probably did not want to be dragged half-way across the world to Kentucky to watch me race. I thought he would rather just relax and do things the easy way. And he kind of agreed. Of course he would have come with me and all that, but those two weeks are not about me, they are about him. And I am fine with not doing Louisville and am actually really looking forward to doing a local race. It will be fun.

So I am still training for ironman and on Saturday I had a 100 mile ride on the plan. My legs were really not happy about it. The first 20-30 miles they did not want to play at all. I found myself thinking things like "Angelina, you are sooo stupid. Why are you doing this? Why? You are not doing an ironman next year. It is far too long". But then the legs decided to join the play ans they started feeling better and by mile 80-90 I was riding thinking which ironman I should do next year. Is it that easy to change your mind!? And so before you know it I am signed up for a great race next year - it will be their 10th anniversary and promises to be amazing.