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.