13 miles (on the road) starting in Rimbik
3 days in and we'd now covered over 70 miles.. all on trail, mostly at altitude and with a lot of serious hills thrown in for good measure, so you'd think that 13 miles on the road today would be a piece of cake?! Well you'd be wrong.
The startline today was like a scene from a battlefield. A lot of groaning and shuffling and trying to loosen our limbs in preparation for today's short 13 miles. Remember gorgeous Georgia? she'd done amazingly well, winning the women's marathon yesterday and had consistently performed so well in the previous 2 days, but she hobbled to the startline with her knees heavily taped, hardly able to walk and with tears in her eyes. She was clearly in a lot of pain and some previous ITB problems had come back to haunt her. She started, but within just half a mile made the sensible decision to pull out of the race altogether. Really sad for her. But just goes to show that this race can take anyone down, even those at the very top. I have no doubt that she'll be back one day though and will probably win the whole thing overall.
We came across a local man who was carrying what seemed like the contents of his house on his head, he indicated to us to stop and we exchanged 'Namaskar' in greeting. He grasped our hands and nodded his head and smiled in what seemed like admiration.. although it could have been disbelief. I still have no idea what he said, but there was something about his touch and the look in his eyes that was very moving and powerful. He seemed to be blessing us or wishing us good luck.
The uphill was easier, apart from the pain in my hip which hadn't gone away and a new pain in a tendon on the top of my foot. 13 miles only took us 3 hours today.. which flashed by in what felt like minutes. No stunning views of mountains, but a nice straightforward trot, and just what we needed. Mr Pandey knew what he was doing when he designed this race. A mile further and I think my legs might have fallen off. The weird swelling had gone now too which was a relief. See.. running really does fix everything!.
Anyway, the finish line was pure joy and our merry band of Richard, Zoe, Karen and myself finished together hand in hand to the cheers of a group of very cute local children. A bus trip back to Rimbik - our second night in the lovely guest house - and an afternoon of exploring the market in Rimbik, and ice cream (yes in rural India) and some relaxation.
But the day was far from over. Tonight we had the infamous (some would say 'dreaded') 'cultural exchange programme' to prepare for. In turn we had to stand up and do a song, dance or some sort of performance typical of our home Country. Thankfully we were allowed to do it with our fellow runners to reduce the embarrassment factor. Unfortunately for Karen (New Zealand), Saahil (India) and Juan (El Salvador) however, they didn't have any fellow runners from their Country. Luckily for Saahil, being a Hollywood actor and all, he'd done a fair bit of acting training, so sang a beautiful rendition of Air Supply's 'All Out of Love' (which had everyone still humming on the run the following day). The Americans sang, Karen sang a lovely children's love song, Juan told us about the meaning behind the flag of El Salvador, the South Africans played a practical joke, the Germans did a military style song, the Indian staff played flutes and danced and we Brits managed ... wait for it.. a human pyramid competition. Typical of many drunken weddings, post rugby drinking sessions and rowing regattas. According to Rhiannon. Thankfully she let us keep our clothes on (not sure what sort of weddings she's used to) and no-one got injured.. which of course with only 17 miles left tomorrow, was my biggest fear! The evening ended with lots of traditional indian dancing and everyone got up and joined in - for those who could walk anyway. The 2 doctors surprised us all with a rendition of 'Moonlight' on a wooden flute and a spot of breakdancing. It was one of the most surreal, random and moving nights of my life.
But by now I could hardly walk. My legs were so sore and I had to take the stairs sideways. I had a throbbing blister which looked infected and every tendon and muscle ached. At least I didn't look like Quasimodo anymore. But.. like every night so far, I went to bed wondering how the hell I was going to run 17 miles tomorrow. And this time I really did mean it...
1. My RAB microlight alpine feather jacket proved to be my new best friend. It is perfect in every way. Packs down small, is light, warm and just gorgeous. Can even be worn to sleep
in at altitude!
2. I did not pack light for this trip. There was so much kit to take, but the Osprey Sojourn 80 rolling bag swallowed it all up with ease. With both wheels and a ruck sack harness, it was perfect for a woman travelling alone.