**Updated** Photos added
I'm tired and my feet hurt!
'Why is that?' I hear you ask. Well, I'll try to explain…
After going down to (near) Petersfield to register on the Friday evening, Mrs Pabs and I got to bed about midnight after preparing the next day's JJB lunch. We were then up at some unearthly hour to travel back down in time to complete the necessary team logistics and be ready for the start.
Along with my luvverly Jelly Baby Junkies team mates I started walking at 7am on Saturday morning and didn't stop, apart from pausing to eat, drink and ……, until I arrived at Brighton Racecourse the following day. It was tough, but profoundly worthwhile - I feel so proud of myself, and of the others too, including Rachpops and her sprint team - Are you lot on drugs or summat? It was the single most difficult thing I have ever done - I still don't know how this short fat n hairy 52 year old mentalista got round 100k/62.xx miles, but round I got!
The first couple of stages were pretty ok, apart from a few brief showers that meant donning and discarding waterproof clothing in response to getting wet/cold/dry/hot at various points - should have simply taken an umbrella I think. We saw Sir Nick at CP1 who then (nicely) pestered us for interviews and took some pics - see his blog for a video compilation ( I love his interview with the back of Rachpop's head...). Thanks for supporting us Nick - much appreciated.
My lovely wife was there at CP2 to re-supply us with sweets and socks, and then at CP3 to feed us with a smashing lunch. At this point we also met up with Phil K and family, who cheered us up no end - thanks Phil, will do the same for you next year…(?!!?)
18 miles were under our belt and we were all feeling pretty chipper…. Entirely predictably, things changed later…
CP4 saw us all partake of a 'proper' Cream Tea, complete with clotted cream, scones and lovely jam -What a treat! This was cheerily provided by slimmer of the year, the gorgeous Hat (once of FLM 2008 blog fame) and her husband.
CP5 saw us starting to feel the strain but Hat was there to feed us again, and it was great too, to see Rachpop's team support crew there as well.
Some of us were finding things a lot tougher by now but on we all soldiered, although beginning to string out and not talk quite so much. Somewhere before CP6 the other Realbuzzers passed us and we had a quick exchange of mutual encouragement and support before they moved off over the horizon! You guys rock, you too Rachpops!
No.1 Daughter (Emily) and her boyfriend James greeted us at CP6 where we also met up again with Phil K and his family. It was nearly dark by the time we arrived in dribs and drabs but the big map the Ghurkhas had put up at the check-in showed jut how far we had come, which put things in perspective, both on what we had achieved so far, but also that we had much less to do than we'd already done. I'm glad I didn't realise in that rather encouraging moment that, as far as I'm concerned anyway, we had only gone about 10% of the total pain journey thus far!
Head Lamps on guys!
This was going to be fun, walking in the dark over large flint and rock strewn mountain paths. So this is why they have the Ghurkha's organising this event?… It's quite like the Himalayas, or so it seemed to me at that point!! After a refreshingly flat gambol along the river bank the near-vertical aforementioned paths were rejoined, and our troubles really started.
Annie and Laura were struggling and needed to slow down a bit, whereas the only way I could deal physically and psychologically with the long upward hills and my own distress was to put my head down, shut the world out and put one foot in front of the other as fast as I felt able to - going downhill wasn't easy either, I needed to utilise my not inconsiderable weight in getting me down fast, and without braking any more than I had to, my knees would have seized up otherwise. Lou was feeling the same but had the disadvantage of not having any excess weight to help her!! We waited to re-gather at points but even that became difficult when the night turned very cold, and legs and brains/motivation started to seize up if not kept moving.
By the time we got to CP7 at Devil's Dyke we had managed to allow 30 minutes distance to creep in between our, by now, two mini-teams. Emily and James were now joined at the CP by Nick (Lou's uncle) and Ce who took over as support crew for the night - thanks guys, you were all fantastic! A pasta party(?) ensued before we went wearily onwards - a shortish leg, but a couple of killer hills either side of the A23 crossing.
CP8 at Jack and Jill was very cold and windy but the food was great - Lamb and mint sausages were part of the offering…. very welcome I can tell you. The next stage to CP9 was going to be make or break section - 8 long, long miles up and down the
Himalayas South Downs, past Ditchling Beacon, past and away from Brighton, and into the physical and mental unknown.
There was a sunrise along the way - I expect anyone else might have thought it beautiful - but by now I was in sensory shutdown mode and keeping my head down for some no nonsense mileage accumulating trances. It worked. I got there, just. This was my low point of the whole trip - poor old Lou had to quickly go into Nurse-mode and fire me a few diagnostic questions before she was satisfied she wouldn't need to call the ambulance/undertakers just yet. I probably felt worse than I let on, but Nick and Ce were fantastic at this point, cajoling and encouraging both of us. We were fed and watered and finally ready to go.
Annie and Laura hadn't arrived at the checkpoint by this time so we had a difficult decision to make. As far as I was concerned, it was wait, and seriously risk not finishing myself, or go, and accept that our split into two halves was permanent and regrettable, but essential. Lou felt similarly. We went.
There were two stages left, and only 8 miles, but effing hell, who put that bloody great mountain there, just a mile into the next leg? B*stard! One step at a time Lou - we got up and over it and then descended through some lovely valleys and corn fields - by this time I was beginning to loosen my sensory shutdown as I became more confident and increasingly relieved that I was going to finish.
CP10 appeared quicker than I had dared hope and then it was up the last hill (by now it didn't feel as high as it might have done a few miles back) and we could see Brighton again, and then the Racecourse! We thought we were within a few hundred yards but were brought back down to earth when a Ghurka, trying to encourage us, said that there was only ½ an hour to the end. ONLY!!!!?????? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Kinell!
After checking with JJB Pt II Lou and I decided to go across the line as a pair. After 100 gruelling, exciting, painful, exhilirating, horrible, enjoyable, terrible and profoundly satisfying kilometres we finally got to cross the finishing line at Brighton Racecourse at 10 O'clock on Sunday morning - some 27 hours after leaving the start.
The finish was fantastic. How I didn't end up blubbing wildly I'll never know. I had been on the verge of crying for about two miles from the finish but knew if I started I'd find it difficult to stop. I wanted to smile as I went over the line, and so I did - beaming from ear to ear - replacing the ear to ear grimace that I'd been wearing since CP7.
Mrs Pabs and assorted Real buzzers/support crews were there to cheer us in - it felt electric, and powerful. I felt wonderful. I would never had made it without all the JJB team members, and the support crew(s), nor without Lou's fantastic attitude and encouragement through those last stages. Thank you, every one of you.
So, that's why I'm tired and my feet hurt. Too much exercise and too little sleep - but it was all worth it!! I'm a trailwalker!