The Ladybower 50: Part 2

Andy Luke
Tuesday, 9 October, 2012

The course proceeded to get a bit hillier and higher than the previous part we’d already ran.  All footpath and forest trail, it was nothing ridiculously steep but I had noticed from the start that all the other runners were walking uphill then running again from the top.  I continued to run past them at my steady pace but once on flat or downhill slopes they would catch me up again and overtake.   operation-ultra Once I’d reached the top of all 3 reservoirs I followed the route that brought us back down the other side of them on route to the start line again.  Just past the top on the other side, a tarmac road appeared.  Local buses used it to transport tourists up and down the popular walking routes.  There were a couple of lads parked up in a car as a water station but I was fine so I thanked them and continued.   The rest of the road back to the start line traced the edge of the reservoirs.  It was good running on a flat surface again and not having to worry about tripping over rocks or tree stumps.  The sun was well and truly out by this time and was relatively warm so things at this point were going well. Before long I recognised where I was and realised I wasn’t far from the start.  After the first hour of running I’d began fuelling on carb gels and slices of malt loaf and drinking Gatorade.  I was more than happy to see Dom when I reached the start line.  I took a few minutes to restock my supplies and have some pasta.   I was under 4 hours at this point and was fairly happy so I quickly got going again and started my second 15 mile lap of the reservoirs.  The first few miles seemed to pass by without any issues but I sensed something wasn’t right.  A bit further along one of the volunteer First Aider Gary Benson joined me on his bike.  He’d already spoken to me earlier when I’d voiced my concerns about my heart rate so I think he’d decided to keep an eye on me.  At this point it was still over 200 BPM and showed no sign of slowing.  By this point I’d adopted the strategy of walking uphill and running on the flats and downhills.  Gary parted my company and I was alone again at the start of the big loop.   It was about this point where I’d also started to walk on some of the flat parts of the course too.  I had plenty of fuel on board so I wasn’t sure what the problem was.  I drank the rest of my water in my bottle but then realised when placing it in my back pack that I had no liquids left.  I cursed myself but carried on knowing I was getting very dehydrated.  I didn’t see any other runners for ages after this which started to get me really worried.  I figured that I’d be able to ‘borrow’ some water from another competitor but it didn’t look like this was going to happen.  Then I remembered about the water station just past the top so I knuckled down and made my way there.  

Not a drop!

I approached the corner behind which lay the water station I’d been yearning for.  My heart dropped when I got round and saw the lads were not there.  My mouth was getting really dry now and I was reluctant to take on anymore carb gels or food as they generally need water to wash them down.  I pulled out a peanut butter and jam sandwich and carefully nibbled on it.  It seemed to take me forever to finish as I plodded on. The backs of my legs were seizing up the further I went.  I had to stop still a couple of times to stretch off just to see if I could get them going again.  Again, I was running a short while and then walking.  If anything, I felt like my walking was making more progress than the running as I had a strong march going most of the time whereas my run looked more like an old man shuffling.  
A guardian angel then appeared before my eyes.  It was Gary the First Aider.  I immediately asked if he had water which of course he did.  The water tasted so good and seemed to dislodge the sandwich that I’d eaten half an hour earlier.  I relaxed a bit.  Gary asked me how I was feeling.  I explained that my heart rate was still haywire and my legs hurt but I was otherwise OK.  He then drove up towards the top of the reservoirs promising to check on me on the way back.  Things weren’t getting any easier.  I was really struggling now.  I was trying to fight off the negative thoughts is my head which I won’t go into.  I’d try running and only manage five metres or so.  I couldn’t see the point in putting the effort in to get nowhere so I just kept on marching.


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