Category Archives: Events

Chat

#75 Nice-Cannes Marathon: Part 2: The Observational Run

Two days of campaigning, running around with participants has been a great warm up to run day….and by the way, you can run marathons with zero sleep.

Article on the day: https://www.20minutes.fr/planete/2365107-20181104-nice-pourquoi-singapourienne-bouclera-marathon-nice-cannes-tractant-pneu-10kg

Chasing the Rabbit

bunny dogs

I would start at 06:30 am to ensure I finished within the organisations’ end time of 2pm (officially the marathon started at 08:00 and ended at 14:00). An early start makes me feel like the rabbit on the track. Uncle would accompany me for some of it, except was continually stopped by police so had to find alternative routes.

Instructions: “Stay on the bicycle path until the lead runners have over taken you”

How much distance could I make before the lead runners caught me?

Route Map

It was expected that the lead runners would overtake at about 10km. Except my competitive nature meant I was going to push myself to see if I could make 15km. Storming along the course, I ran right past the small turn off (highlighted in the above route map).

The signs changed from 11km to a 16km mark on the bend. Maybe there was a loop back? Uncle tried to call me back, instead I went over to the check point that was in front of the 16km mark by about 50m. They were directing me towards Cannes, confused about me as I was about their location.

Uncle showed me the map…. This rabbit had to go backwards, retrace her steps and talk her way back to the turn-off point after the 11km mark (the police lady was very kind). I had lost 15-20 minutes and it would be another 20 minutes before the lead runners would run past. I got to 13km when I was caught 😦

LEad pack

C’est tant pis. Une autre temps.

nephew daughter

JJ’s nephew caught me at about 22km and JJ’s daughter at about 25km

After that so many people thanked me for the planet and for their children and grand-children….so many people motivated me on.

running1

On the first steep hill, one man helped me pull Teera-Wates up. And after that many more would offer to help me with this burden.

Collaboration makes light work of the burden of waste.

Between 30-35 km, there were more hills. Natalie came to pull the rope as did another gentleman when she was tiring to help me along. (I did tell them everything was good but that sleepless night must have been showing on my face).

Did the Runners Bin It to keep the course safe and clean?

There were many awesome runners who diverted to put their rubbish in the bins, but there were times when there was a carpet of litter on the floor (especially sponges), one had to tread carefully to ensure you didn’t trip up.

At times the wind blew and angry howl, throwing plates of food and cups on the floor. Cups that had been dropped on the floor were sucked into mini vortexes to be tossed into the bushes or on the beach.

RUNNERS YOU CAN BIN IT! …Les coureurs mettent toujours vos déchets à la poubelle!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Finale

Running End

Completed in 7 hours and 27 seconds and collected medal and t-shirt without packaging + a small food bag with a bottle of water…..well I skipped the food bag and bottle.

And finally a quick look to see if participants understood what the bin colours meant….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

…and now to write a list of recommendations to the organisation and then onwards to the Singapore Marathon to ensure participants Bin It right!

Articles after the marathon: https://www.nicematin.com/course-pedestre/elle-court-le-marathon-nice-cannes-en-tractant-un-pneu-de-10kg-et-le-boucle-en-7h-274479?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1541339007

http://www.leparisien.fr/environnement/elle-court-le-marathon-de-nice-en-tractant-un-pneu-04-11-2018-7934673.php

https://fr.news.yahoo.com/nice-pourquoi-singapourienne-bouclera-t-103102615.html

Mentioned in the 6pm news that night.

So let’s hope I have managed to inspire a nation to focus on the burden of society’s waste…and how all stakeholders (the organisation, sponsors, and the participants) can be part of the action to reduce the environmental impact of our disposable convenience.

 

 

Advertisements
Chat

Le French Blog Post

Je viens de Singapour et je parle Anglais. Je dois être prêt à parler Français parce que je vais rejoindre le marathon de Nice.  J’ai donc appris de YouTube et J’utilise Google pour traduire. Oh merd! Pas le temps d’apprendre

Voici un article pour commencer

https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/provence-alpes-cote-d-azur/decouvrez-cette-coureuse-du-marathon-alpes-maritimes-qui-fera-course-tractant-pneu-10-kg-1559926.html

 

Chat

Marathons #73 and #74: Plym Trail Marathon

Plym Trail Marathon.JPG

Tyre: Freeus-Blod
Event Type:
 Tarmac path that goes along the Plym Trail cycle path. This is a small friendly event and options for a 1/2 marathon or full marathon distances.
Sustainability: The RDs have said the events will be cupless next year 🙂
Start Time: 09:30
Weather: @18 degs C by mid-day
During: Checkpoints every 3-3.5 miles stocked with jelly babies + gels + crisps + peanuts + water to refill
At the End: Medal + small goody bag with food, water
Website: https://www.firstandlastrunning.com/

After a restless night car camping and waiting to take off, we were greeted by a couple of wild horses in the village. Had not expected the FirstAndLastRunning’s website pictures would be real! It is real and something to ease off the urgh of sleep deprivation + prowling pervs.

Davey pulled up and greeted us with an early morning welcome sending out more mega-watts of positive energy to the world.

Both Davey and Lesley are 100 marathon clubbers , so they know how to ensure all runners needs are satisfied.

Whilst in the “waiting lounge” (the Village Hall) captain Davey announced that next year the FirstAndLastRunning events will be cupless! Hooray was the response from participants who were there and was pleasantly surprised no one quipped about it.

Time for me to get on the run way and control tower Davey directing that everything was clear for take off. With a final description of the flight path, was soon taking off from Clearbrook Village, up past that dodgy car park, cruising along a high path for a couple of hundred metres. We then flew back past the village, and onwards down towards Plymouth for 6 miles to a turn around point at the end of a path and the entrance to a furniture making factory on one side and a railway track that a steam train uses on the other side. The flight path then returns back up to Clearbrook village and is repeated along this 6 mile track. It is in Dartmoor, so you can expect to view beautiful scenery at a good altitude above flat ground.

Here is a tour with Free-us Blod for part of that route.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Despite the small numbers, still met folk from a previous marathon and a fellow Fetchie. Other memories of this run was the man who put his hands on his hips and asked with indignation “what do you think you are doing?”, the lady who exclaimed “goodness gracious me…what?” My response “Sorry lah, am foreign. Please be forgiving me.”

Thought I would only be doing day 1 due to a lack of training beforehand, but Uncle persuaded me to do day 2 as it had taken us 6 hours to reach Clearbrook and as he says we should make the most of it. I just needed to be able to move my legs.

The route was pretty clear of runners’ trash. Of course did my duty as last runner and picked up trash – 6 gel tabs and 2 gel packets picked up for an estimated 60 runners.

At the end, there was a final education time to a group of cyclists to teach them about disposable plastic and why thinking zero waste really is the way forward. Loved the line by a Nigerian guy

“Why are you pulling the tyre with a plastic bucket? Is it a metaphor to show us that we are going backwards with disposable plastic?”

Day 1 landed in 7:43:51.

Marathon Recovery tip: If you find you’re stiff when you get up, this might be due to dehydration. Ensure you drink lots of water (for me at least 2 litres) after the marathon and more the day after. It’ll ensure you can get off your seat!

Day 1 Night

Airplane seats suck when they are on a slant. Just seem to constantly slide down and the legs / body can never be comfortable. Yes – we stuck to car camping that night and again pretended we were in business class. We were joined by a fellow runner who simply pulled up and went to sleep. Think I might have had perhaps half an hour of sleep at 6am. Oh well I’ve trained for zero sleep running.

Day 2: 

This morning, water poured from the skies, thoroughly soaking the ground and continued to pour down for hours after. Today’s animal greetings were from a bunch of sheep that had gathered round the cars. The awesome Davey gave another energised send off. Despite the lack of sleep, zero breakfast, and a miserable day, one could only smile being in the country.

It was wet but warm with waterproofs on. Puddles had formed and in parts water was streaming on the ground which tends to slow down the tyre. Free-us Blod happily scooped up the water. But it was just great to be in the open, breathing clean air and fantastic to be active than sitting on my butt for days programming on “trivial” important company stuff to improve their processes.

Day 2’s route is the same as Day 1.

It would only be after about 3-4 hours when the rain eased off and besides the hard core runners out there, saw very few people unlike day 1 when the sunshine and warm day had lots of bystanders out and about.

As the last runner back, again did my duty to spot & pick up any runners’ litter. Perhaps due to the wet day, I did not see any gel tabs or gel packets this time on the return journey to the village. Great job runners!

Overall really enjoyed this run despite the lack of sleep. It’s always fun to see the same runners multiple times as well as to have the space to enjoy the views.

Day 2 landed in 7:40:00, 3 minutes faster than the previous day!

Thank you to:

  • Davey and Lesley for letting me participate in this event. I enjoyed the route despite the ups and downs
  • Uncle for marshaling the turn around point and Richard for the mid-point.
  • To all the other runners for their encouragement

Also thank you Davey for pledging to go cupless next year, and to reduce the single-use packaging.

Some final animals whilst crossing Dartmoor

Chat

Preamble to Marathons #73 to #74 – Creep Alert

LookDownOnVillage

Looking Down at Clearbrook Village and Dartmoor

At times, am not the most organised person and tried to find accommodation close to the Plym Trail Marathon. There was no room at any inn, and was repeatedly told “it’s bank holiday weekend”. Easy decision – camp out – which have done before. There was a car park at the top of Clearbrook Village that had a scenic view of Dartmoor and a gorgeous full moon was floating in the clear sky, lighting up Dartmoor. It was really spectacular and reminded me of Arrowhead 135. Being in a remote location on the edge of wilderness is always magically. I was to be slapped out of Alice in Wonderland mode.

CarParkAboveVillage

With a Full Moon on a clear night, this car park has a spectacular view

There were 3 other cars in the car park. One car had moved to be closer to another car and then the other car left. I went out to survey the area for a good camping spot. The other car re-parked closer to where we were parked. Thinking it might be another runner, I went to speak to driver in the car. He was a white male in the driving seat, maybe in his early 20s, alone. From here on, I refer to him as “Perv”.

Me: “Hi – you camping here to run tomorrow?”

Perv: “Oh is there a run?”

Me:  “Yeah.”

Perv: “Are you camping”

Me: “Yeah – thought we’d camp here in this awesome place. You camping too?”

Perv: “No. Am going to be in my car. Out here for the night.”

Me: Confused – “It is a perfect night to watch the moon…”

Perv: “Yes it is”

My spidey senses were tingling and I returned to the car slightly unnerved by the tone of his voice and told Uncle (aka Mr RF) who was in the driving seat. Uncle asked me for my thoughts and I brushed them aside wanting to believe the best. I put warmer clothes on as there was a chill in the air, which made me think about nature’s call. I got out of the car again and this time so did the Perv, who walked in the same direction I was going. He was just a couple of metres ahead of me and turned round to ask “Are you camping?”

Me: “Oh yes” I responded a little confused.

Perv continued to walk towards the bushes and I u-turned to return to the car. As I began to tell Uncle my concerns, the man also returned to his car. At this point we noted that cars were coming into the car park, pausing for a moment where we were and then leaving.

As we were parked right in front of the view of the full moon, I asked Uncle to move the car to the right hand side. Perv also relocated his car next to ours.

Me to Uncle: “Nature is calling, but I need you to watch me as I head for that bush and watch that guy because I think he will get out of his car as well.”

As I headed towards the bushes, the man also got out of his car and walked this time towards my track in my direction. Uncle jumped out of the car and demanded “Where are you going?”. The man was caught off guard and fumbled over his words. Perhaps he thought we were 2 females in the car and thought I was the second female when I had put on warmer clothes. Although I was now hidden behind the bush, I could only hear Uncle’s voice. Perv seemed to mumble.

Uncle asserted again “What is in your hand?”

Perv mumbled something and then returned to his car and drove away. Uncle later on told me he went to look at the man’s licence plate, and the man quickly drove off away from the car park. Who knows what would have happened if Uncle had not intervened.

Feeling unsettled, we decided to relocate ourselves in the village parked up next to the village hall and car camped with the doors locked…..urgh…..was just like being in an airline seat. We told ourselves it was like being in the Premium option, but all the same. Somehow had to rest for the marathon the next day……

I later heard that the car park is a popular “dogging” site (new slang term for me)

Dogging Definition

Gratitude: There are nasty sex predators in this world and have encountered them whilst growing up in this world from molesters, potential rapists and stalkers. This incident reminded me of all of them from 8 years old until now…..now I needed to let those memories pass on by so that I could rest. Tomorrow was a new day.

Am thankful to my mother who made me learn a martial art when I was 11 years old. Am thankful to the police I have spoken to in the past who taught me to be observant in all surroundings. Am thankful to Uncle for confronting the man. Am thankful to God for always keeping me safe.

Next post: Plym Trail Marathon

 

Chat

#72 – Ladybower Trail Marathon: The Gamble

Title with cards

Tyre: Freeus-Blod
Event Type:
 Multi-terrain marathon that goes along around the Ladybower reservoir with parts that can be quite exposed to the sun. This is a small friendly event with a couple of hundred doing 1/2 marathon or full marathon distances.
Sustainability: It is a cupless event in a beautiful area around a part of the peak district so BYOB.
Start Time: 09:30
Weather: @25-28 degs C by mid-day
During: Checkpoints every 5 miles stocked with fruit, jelly babies + gels + water + isotonic to refill
At the End: Medal + t-shirt + water
Website: http://www.peakrunners.co.uk/ladybower-trail-marathon.html

The Gamble

When oi was a wee lass, me mother taught us how to play card games & then as a family used to play contract bridge. I used to play with my father & at times we’d take a gamble on contracts. My father likes to recall the time when we played together in the Pesta Sukan bridge competition in Singapore against one of the top Singaporean pairs. We somehow found ourselves in a risky 7NT contract and got lucky. This event reminded me of that game. With a relatively good hand, I started the bidding conservatively with 1NT (One No Trump playing Standard American). David (RD) responded positively and helped make the cards “look nice”. So I booked the accommodation, organised how to get to the destination, the calf was feeling great…..and parked ourselves in a safe 3NT contract. But as things go, sometimes the opposition will interfere to snatch a contract away.

A key family member (affectionately known as “Pa”) passed on to his “next journey” on the Wednesday on the week of the event. His funeral was scheduled on the Tuesday after the weekend of the marthon…..in New Zealand. From the UK, this would be a 30 hour journey and Kenny Rogers has started to sing a song.

I counted my cards and contemplated my next actions. This marathon was on the Saturday, in the Peak District, about 3-4 hours away from Heathrow. A 30 hour journey plus the time travel would see me 2 days into the future. The latest I could leave would be the Saturday evening of the event, for a Monday evening arrival.

…and Kenny sings: “If you’re gonna play the game, girl
You gotta learn to play it right”….

Ahh the choices:

A. Let the opposition steal the contract: that is let the organiser know that I cannot attend and focus on organising myself to leave with plenty of time or,

B. Check for Aces: that is see if the RD would allow an early marathon start, book an evening flight  for the Saturday evening and then the rest would be up to me + a bit of luck.

Organiser checked, flight checked…..though a top card was questionable, the calculation was possible if everything aligned correctly. I put myself in 7NT (the best contract possible with the highest amount of points to collect).

Yes a flight was booked for 9:30pm on Saturday evening, RD kindly gave me the green light to start the event two hours early at 07:30am. It would be down to me to play the cards well.

Here’s the algorithm:

Completion times at the last 2 events were Sundown 7 hours 58 minutes one month ago and Glorious Gargrave 8 hours 7 minutes one week ago. David was allowing me a special 07:30am start.

Airport at 7:30pm latest = 4 hour journey time to airport + 30 minutes shower/change + 20 minutes faff after the marathon + x unknown time to complete marathon.

Thus x = 7 hours 30 minutes worst case roughly knocking off at least half an hour from the last 2 events.

Of course Freeus-Blod would be coming along – am still trying to complete 100 marathons / ultras with a tyre! Just needed to focus on the event instead of stopping to yabber to passer-bys, and reach 13.5 miles at least by 11:00am.

And Kenny sings…..”You gotta know when to hold them, know when to fold them”…

The course is in the Peak District….nice undulations and somewhere along, there is a steep hill to climb to admire the views.

Route

Route is undulating with a hill to climb at about mile 14-15

At 07:30am RD flagged me off.

At about 10:00am the cards were unfolding nicely and the 10 mile check point had been reached. The volunteers were lovely and encouraging. By 10:30am a tall runner loped along, his t-shirt thoroughly soaked. He was the lead runner and had overtaken me at what I thought was about 11.5 miles.

…and the song continues – “Know when to walk away, know when to run”

I needed to push on… that’s what Salt N Pepa tell me…

Coming round at the bottom of the lake, a couple of cyclists held a gate open for me to pass through, and stopped me to ask what Freeus-Blod was doing. We chatted for a couple of minutes, they gave me some money for EarthWatch, we talked some more, took some photos and then I hurried on (thank you to the man and woman cyclist) towards a road, which was a 2 mile entrance towards the Lady Bower car park where I had registered earlier on.

Another lady stopped me to have a chat. Had a quick conversation to find out she was walking to a pub to meet her daughter to later cheer her son who was in the event. Of course she asked for a ride….Freeus was in no mood to entertain the thought. Time was ticking on and the tricks were being taken, but it didn’t seem enough. Arrowhead 135 had shown me how the mind can distort time and distance, so the confidence was a little low.

Back to Kenny…
“You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done”

Mind Torture

Having not reviewed the route prior to the event, had thought this was a double loop, hence the mid-point (13 miles) should be from whence we started. The clock struck 11am, the sun was beating down and the mind told me “how about adding another 15 minutes more?”. 15 minutes went by and the mind told me “it would be sensible to quit when you get to the next check point to ensure time to get to the airport”.

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser

By 11:35am a check point appeared diverting us away from heading onwards to the “Start” point. Am ready to throw in the towel except the marshal tells me “It is mile 14 and you’re doing really well”. Am confused but a voice in my head dares me to continue reminding me the RD had earlier told me that at mile 15 there is a steep hill to the edge….and at this check point there is a steep hill! A triple check with everyone and the head said “get on that hill”.

Freeus jumped on me shoulder, for a ride. In fact she stayed on for most of that section as she clung on to so many rocks and roots sticking out of the ground. There are some glorious panoramic views of the Peaks at the top but there is no time to take pretty pictures.

As we leave that section and returned to a couple of miles into the route of the first lap, another group of runners stopped to have a chat, estimating that we are at mile 17 at 12:15pm

I wanted to believe the possibility, but didn’t want to disappoint myself, so the demon voice told me “you’re a foolish idiot, Uncle will be mad at you and it’s probably only mile 16 you need to quit”.

Ahh yes Queen…..

Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you no man ask for
Under pressure that brings a building down
Splits a family in two

…and then Pa popped into my head cheerily smiling, telling me “You nutter but you’ll do good. Go for it.”

The point about a bridge contract is you create a plan of play at the start and adapt as the cards unveil themselves.

Another cyclist stopped to have a chat. He and family were heading to the lakes for a swim. With the clear blue sky and strong sun, that sounded a dream. But “allons-y”, I had to go and the cyclist pressed a 5 pound note in my hand for my cause (EarthWatch).  A feeling of guilt rushed over me for moving on so quickly but I couldn’t let Pa down.

Some distance on, a runner is limping and stretching at the side of the road. I stopped to check he is okay and if he needed any water. This is his first marathon and he is now at the furthest distance, thinking it is mile 18-19. I get him going for a short while, but the ticking clock in my head urged me to keep moving. We get to the next check point at mile 20. Yummy melon and oranges were being served up – perfect for the hot day but no time to chat.

I assumed the next check point would be at mile 23. Again the demon brain told me “You’re so selfish jeopardising family for your own selfish ego….”. Yes I am imperfect and embrace my imperfections.

There aren’t many cards left and with the heat bearing down, am starting to believe have played the wrong card. My mind reflects on Arrowhead135 when the space, time and distance were all out of sync…. my demon brain tells me “You’ll never make it. You probably have 3 more miles and you won’t make it to the airport”. It is nearly 14:30 and having to cover 3 more miles would mean about another hour.

As another runner passes, I panickingly ask “Do you know how many more miles it is to the end?”

Runner: “About one!”

We turned a corner to a downhill slope all the way to the end.

The finish line is crossed in 7:07. Made it back home to have a shower and caught flight. Contract completed.

Many thank yous to Dave and Amanda (RDs) for your very kind generosity. Always to the volunteers to where very encouraging all the way and to the various cyclists who kindly pressed money into my hand £14.30 to EarthWatch.

Well stocked check points, loved the reusing of bottles to make up isotonic and appreciated the fruit offerings. Way better than jelly babies.

Would definitely recommend this marathon event.

Next write up: Plym Trail Marathon

 

Chat

Cheltenham Challenge: Boldy Going Where Non-Ultra Running Events Are Scared To Go

What if every event in the world – whether it is a cycling, running, music, an outdoor festival never generated any rubbish and all it took was for organisers to stand their ground and enabled participants to raise their level of responsibility? And what would the effect be on participant’s times if they were forced to go cupless?

Imagine there’s no event rubbish
It’s easy if you try
No cups or gels to pick up
No rubbish on the ground

Imagine all the runners
Bringing their own bottle
Woo hoo hoo

Oh they say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
Yeah Cheltenham Challenge has gone cupless
And hope more events will do so

….Cheltenham Challenge knows that Zero Waste events are possible. Not repurposed or recycled waste, but ZERO WASTE.

Who knows what happens to the words we speak and the visions we share with others? Who would have thought a conversation in 2014 with the water sponsors and thereafter an email to the Cheltenham Challenge organisers once a year to encourage them to re-examine their waste would really have turned into anything…..4 years on:

Reuse Reduce Recycle

Reflections

Many ultra events have been going cupless for the last couple of years. On the otherhand, the non-ultra running events (such as 5K, 10K, half and full marathons) have been too scared about upsetting runners to ask them bring their own bottle (BYOB) to reduce the amount of single use plastic generated by the event. Additionally the water sponsors can provide water containers that are not single use!

Becos We always done it

There are a number of facts that are constantly being waved in front of organisations that many events refuse to acknowledge:

  • The inadequate recycling of single-use plastic in any country (29% of plastic is recycled in the UK with some portion of that going outside of the UK to process).
  • Not all runners’ rubbish is actually picked up such as wrappers and gel packets tossed into the grass, drain and bushes.  No running event can guarantee all the litter is picked up even when employing professional cleaners due to the irresponsible tossing of rubbish by runners.
  • There is a huge issue with plastic in our oceans. Many major marathons are close to waterways and rivers. It has been observed that “running tossers” have chucked their rubbish into the water ways, or the winds have blown their rubbish into the water ways.

The World Wildlife Fund released that 1 million birds + 100,000 marine life die a year from plastic consumption. There has not been an account for land based animals, but it has been noted the deer in Richmond Park have been consuming the gel packets from cyclist. See report here: http://www.frp.org.uk/pdf/news/1397_Press_release_Ride_London_2016_monitoring_v5.pdf. Similarly cows & sheep (for trail runs), squirrels and other animals can consume gel packets tossed into the grass by runners.

  • A good proportion of “serious” runners are irresponsible and will continue to be so as they feel it is their right to toss their rubbish on the course, regardless of where it lands as the pursuit of a PB (Personal Best Time) is far more important  because that’s what events are all about…..They do not care about the safety of the runners behind them.

We always done it this way

Setting The Benchmark

This year I had the privilege to be involved and see Cheltenham Challenge develop a cupless event. Of course a small portion of “serious runners” were disgruntled but the organisers stood their ground, working hard to ensure the first cupless event for 1,600 participants would be a success.

Environmental Statement

 

The team at Cheltenham Challenge delivered what has to be the cleanest and safest event, I have seen so far that is not an ultra marathon. A very well executed event that hosted 1,600 participants running 5K, 10K and 21km events.

Normally an event village is a trash festival with rubbish left by participants. On this occasion the event village at the end had about 10 disposable cups left around, mainly on tables that came from a coffee stall, + presumably two accidentally dropped gel packets…….and that was it! The area was surprisingly clean!

It’s All About the Trash

As the event’s Waste Reduction Ambassador, thought I’d do a bit of plogging in the 5K event to observe how the hydration points operated. The event had provided some emergency paper cups in case there were still unprepared runners.  I picked up some general public plastic trash along the route + 2 paper cups after the last check point. The hydration points I saw were extremely well run.

Following the 1/2 marathoners, the tail runners picked up 1 small carrier bag of runners’ rubbish.

Last year, 2 large black bin bags of rubbish was picked up by the tail runner + 2 white transit vans of rubbish was collected by the end of the event. Noticeably  the event village was littered with trash in 2017.

What Was in the Bins?

At the end of the event, the large water containers will be refilled by the sponsors of the water and the rest of the waste will be sorted by PrintWaste and recycled. Any waste that cannot be recycled will be sent to the energy recovery furnace. If the cardboard boxes were removed, the waste generated from this event would fill less than one 660 litre bin. The majority of the waste came from the stall that sold coffee, tea and cakes. Next year, hope to see them using reusable cups and separating their coffee grounds / non-plastic tea bags into an organics container that someone can take away to use in their compost!

Some comments from 1/2 marathoners I spoke with

  • I thought it might be uncomfortable to carry a bottle, but it was all fine. In fact I didn’t even notice it (runner who carried his water bottle on a belt)
  • We always carry bottles in events
  • It was really easy, and the marshals were on hand to help fill my bottle
  • It’s a no brainer
  • I could drink when I wanted to, great initiative

Speed Comparison: 2016 vs 2017 vs 2018

The final part is did stopping to fill water cause the 1/2 Marathoners to have a worst time than previous? (Check previous results here). So here participants raised their game, took responsibility for carrying their own hydration device for water and produced the fastest set of times since 2013!

So whoop whoop and a brilliant start to Cheltenham Challenge’s journey to developing a zero waste event where the fastest set of times were generated and everyone still had fun and sufficient hydration!

Cheltenham Challenge would be happy to help other organised events go cupless to move events away from using the traditional old fashion waste generating methods!

…And if you’re looking for a PB, perhaps you should consider BYOB

Becos We always done it- caveman

Chat

Sundown Marathon – The Green Ambassadors Are Back!

Background

Once upon a time there was a lady who in 2006 campaigned in Singapore for more responsibility towards waste generation. Some stuff was done: the formal introduction of recycling for each household in 2008……and not much more. So she decided to take matters into her own hand starting with the Singapore Marathon in 2017 and found a bunch of people who wanted the same thing.

https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2017/12/05/a-glowing-feeling-of-change/

We Are Back

Through contact with the Public Hygiene Council, we are now collaborating with the Sundown Marathon four weeks before the event to do much more. The totally supportive organisers have been raising awareness a couple of weeks before the event:

SignUp

With a week to go, we went out to engage participants to agree to Bin It

Photo credits to MJ Photography

With one day to go, the Green Ambassadors are getting geared up to get out there to see if we can create a clean safe run with 25,000 participants being educated to look at the bin colour to understand what can be binned. #NoMoreRunningTossers #BinItRight #SafeRunsForAll

BinIt

Change is happening for safer, more sustainable runs that is part of the circular economy. So what the initiatives we’ve got going will ensure

  • 5000 of the 30000 Plastic bottles + bottle caps to repurposed by Playeum
  • Cans, rest of plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, paper cups to be sold by cleaning company for recycling
  • Wooden pallets will be picked up by another company who will reuse them
  • About 1.2 tonnes of Banana skins to community gardens for composting
  • Cooked food waste for bio-digesting
  • And hopefully a cleaner safer run for all without having to run through other runners’ trash and potentially slipping on cups/bottles as well as having gel wrappers stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

By using nudges to:

  • Remind runners to Bin it
  • Fun questions to encourage the participants to use their recycleables to vote
  • Volunteer runners with signage amongst the pack to remind runners to Bin It
  • Volunteer trash directors to direct participants to put their trash into the right bin

It’s gonna be a fun packed night at the Sundown Marathon.

Chat

Arrowhead 135, 3/4: The Hare, the Tortoise and the Moon

The story of the hare and tortoise is a thread that runs in my life. I am normally ready ahead of time and then unexplained distractions occur, making me late. It irritates me because my time clock and the earth’s time are not in sync.

Mel Georges with Lynn and Sarah, 11:10am:  With being ahead of the cut off time, I went into the “hare super chill mode”. In a cabin at Mel Geroges, Lynn and Sarah had decided to leave the event but were in positive spirits helping me dry stuff. So I lay down, sucking on the tube from my water bladder to rehydrate, noting that only a litre had been drunk over the 36 miles.

Eyes closed, listening to the creaks and groans of the cabin, time melted away. In this sweet meditative mode, I heard Bill Bradley’s booming voice pass by the window.  I thought to myself “good for him, he is on his way onto the next stage”, unaware that he was quitting due to frostbite.  It was fortunate to have heard him as it reminded me to get going. You can watch his VLog here.

Alas the girly works had started. Yah boo. But don’t feel sorry for me, because sometimes it is a secret weapon women have as it can make us stronger! (….and sometimes evil to those close to us ;p )

For women only: Have found using a menstrual cup brilliant and have cut up a microfiber pad to have a reusable liner. Hence no more trashy waste from girly time and brilliant for long expeditions.

Both Lynn and Sarah were trying to get me going, but “lala land” had returned, expecting time to be ‘hold’. I re-organised my kit, ensuring dry socks were ready to change into at Ski Pulk and drank a cup of coffee.

Ski Pulk is a tee-pee tent and the third checkpoint, about 40 miles from Mel Georges. All participants should have checked in by 10am the next day or it is a DNF (Did Not Finish)

With Lynn now anxious for me, I finally headed back out onto the trail at 2:45pm.  It was snowing outside, and the snowflakes playfully greeted me with the Viennese Waltz. Mesmerised by their gracefulness, Lynn’s truck thankfully drove past me to  point me in the right direction.

Although feeling lucid, the karaoke ultra in “Race to the Kings” taught me the brain’s sharpness reduces dramatically as time goes on. Sleep deprivation causes disruptions in the harmonious running of the brain and causes temporary dementia and illogical decisions.  Forgetfulness and corrupt synaptic connections are common.

Within a couple of hundreds of metres from Mel Georges there is a sign that points to International Falls to the left and Tower to the right.

I paused looking at the sign, goofy pondering to return to International Falls with the snowflakes singing “left” until a gust of wind blew them in my face. An internal switch flicked on. My shoes had not been done up, snow had got in, the bungee cords had been left loose on my sled, and it was 2:45 pm on the clock when I headed out!  Nearly 5 hours at Mel Georges doing mostly nothing and destroying the buffer time that had been built up. The last person would have checked out of Mel Georges at 1pm at the latest.  The snow giggled, “you’ll never make it”

“I surely will”

The BPR sticker was blazing on my sled but the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland took over from the “hare brain”.  My mental self slapped me!  “Stop arsing around and get moving”.

My short regret turned to urgency. The snowfall changed its tune to tango, twisting and twirling with a sharp invigoration and then cross-overed to a Riverdance to fill the sled with a pointless weight:

A couple of inches of soft fresh snow already lined the previously hard packed trail, hiding any other tracks, creating greater resistance and thus more effort in pulling the sled.  Ignoring the discomfort of the blisters, ignoring the snow flakes on the face….I had to move to make up time.

At Play on the Dragon’s Back

I was at the first shelter, 3 miles from Mel Georges in 40 minutes,  Then a glorious sight appeared: a large downward slope of over 200 metres. Luge brain in gear, jumped on my sled and paddled with my poles until I had taken off.

Despite the slower terrain, the sled picked up speed, my feet steering along the twisted trail, finishing part way up the next hill.  Woo hoo for the Arrowhead hills – best parts for a bit of wild speed.

The next hill was a steep climb and the weight of environmental peace and reducing trash weighed heavy on my sled (Bisaniiwewin).  I turned round to walk backwards up: Pinky blew kisses, Princess Suma waved at me and Sharkey laughed as my thoughts turned to “gee it would be bad if I slipped or accidental unclipped the carabineer that joined the sled’s rope to my harness”.

StraightTrail

Bisaniiwewin keeping the fluffy team safe: Princess Suma penguin of peace, Pinky smiling lovingly, Sharkey laughing at the madness

Up on the top of the this hill, I surveyed the track below noting a sharp right hand bend a 100 metres down, and put my Bobsled head on…

I pushed my sled, jumped on and sped down and……oh crapsy doo……a snowmobiler appeared out from the right hand bend.  The snowmobile stopped dead and I steered myself sharply into a snowy bank. Fortunately, he was riding cautiously and the gang, that was following him in a domino effect, all in turn stopped one after another.

“Sorry – my fault. So sorry ….Good afternoon to you all. I’m from England….. where Prince Harry is getting married to an American actress….Am in that crazy Arrowhead race and am late” I said in my best English accent, embarrassed about my recklessness.  The front snowmobiler waved, signalling all okay. “Thank you” I called back hurrying on.

Before sliding down a slope on a track shared with snowmobiles, remember a golden rule: check, look and listen before heading down the slope.

Back to Rabbit Mode

Quickly moving on, footprints appeared that had a dusting of snow. Detective interpretation was: they were fresh meaning a participant was close by. Sure enough within 30 minutes John Taylor was in sight.  We were surprised to see each other and after a quick chitchat about why we were at this point….he got the “I’m late” song

“Well we’re late. Gotta make up time. I’ll see you up the next lot of hills as am slow up them. I’m late, am late, am late!”

I hurried on ahead, grooming the snow covered trail for John as the snowstorm continued. Crossed a road, onto the next part of the trail and soon observed a faint set of footprints and sled tracks that looked about a couple of hours old. The wind now behind me, pushed me along and the distance between John and myself rapidly lengthened and would soon lose sight of him.

3.5 hours from Mel Georges, met Todd, an awesome snowmobile volunteer:

I apologised for my tardiness but Todd responded

“You’re going well. You’ve got 5 more miles to the Highway 53 crossing”

“What does that mean?” I responded

“Highway 53 means you’ve gone 23 miles”

I thanked Todd for the information and soldiered on. My head spinning on the calculations and then uncertainty. Surely that can’t be right? That means about 17 miles in 3.5 hours. Was sure had been moving at 3-3.5 miles an hour, which should translate to 10 miles completed. Decided to reframe & degrade the distance quoted to mean there were 10 miles to highway 53 to help the personal time expectations.

The Threesome Dawdle

My left calf was now aching, the same calf I had pulled in July 2017 and had healed in September 2017. It felt strained. I returned to applying the “Pose” technique: straightening up, which seemed a small struggle as the back around the kidney area also ached, and took smaller lighter steps. With the better posture, the pain eased off and my fluffy team encouraged me onwards.

I recalculated and reconciled that if 17 miles in 3.5 hours had been completed, and the last “check in check out” time at Ski Pulk was 10am that would leave about 15 hours for 23 miles.  Surely that was doable which could mean slowing down the pace to manage the calf. I “minced” to Highway 53 as darkness crept in.

The Night of the Blood Red Super Moon

The moon was being held hostage by the clouds, weakening its illumination cast upon the trail, though still bright enough to see the trail without a headlamp. Upon crossing Highway 53, I stopped to eat the cheese sandwich the Mel Georges volunteers had made for me. It was just “divine” (thank you Mel Georges volunteers). Soon a light appeared.  It was John. He had caught up and was marching with a consistent strong pace.

Quick friendly chat and he went on ahead. Soon his red blinkie joined another red blinkie. It was Jennifer. She was tired and was glad to see some others to overcome the “walking in my sleep” feeling. It was good to see her as well. The last time we had met was in 2012 where we both had to bail some ways after Gateway and converted to volunteers.

Time whispered the illusion of distance

All of us went into a kind of “dilly dally la la holiday time” mode.  Each of us constantly stopped along the trail for whatever reason, but we roughly moved as a group, frog leaping each other.  About 1.5 hours later Jennifer who was generally in front stopped for a caffeine drink to try to free her brain from sludge mode. We had a casual chat as if time didn’t matter.

She looked at her wrist: “We’ve gone about 2 miles from Highway 53”

“Really?” I didn’t believe her as had thought that we must have at least been going 3 miles an hour.

“Yeah that’s what my GPS says”

“Impossible!” I thought, but recalculated what this meant….

“Okay I’m going to keep moving. You will catch up as am slow going up the hills and my calf hurts”

I chased on after John, knowing that once she got her mojo back, she would certainly catch up.

Starvation & Dehydration

Up to this point had 5 dough balls, 100g of nuts, 2 cereal bars, soup at Gateway and 2 cheese sandwiches at Mel Georges + soup + the sandwich earlier on. Drunk about 2.5 litres of electrolyte from the start to Mel Georges + one coffee at Gateway & one coffee at Mel Georges.

I was feeling quite ravenous and greedily ate a bag of nuts, drank a whole lot of electrolyte, then threw up.

“Well that ain’t good” I thought.

Tried to drink again, but perhaps too soon, and threw it back out.

“Okay body – fine do without for the moment.” Must be another corruption on the eating and drinking brain cells. It’s a common symptom for me when have had several days of sleep deprivation.  Bizarrely, found eating snow quite satisfying and the cold ice took away the slight rancid taste in the mouth. I filled my now empty 75 ml bottle 3 times with snow and let the ice melt in my mouth.

To Go or Not to Go That is the Question

Again I caught up with John, who seemed to be holding back, and we walked together for awhile.  This time we hung out for a longer duration. At one point, the wind dropped and the night was calm, feeling much warmer due to the cloud cover. This temporary calm was soon changed as the winds returned in a wild expanse, and I became a little desperate for a wee.  However, the thought of stopping to do my thing in the wind and cold produced the thought possibility of a frostbitten butt.  After all, had heard of a participant who managed to frost nip her “thingy” and heard about guys who have frostbitten their thingies when they had forgotten to zip up their trousers after a pee.

As the winds continued, I told John of my demise.

“We should be coming up to a hill shortly and it is more sheltered there” he reassured

As a distraction, I tried to think of other things and admired the wild expanse in the dim light.  We talked and walked and walked and talked……alas, a nagging urgency was in my head with whirring sirens.  The winds suddenly dropped. Red alert flashed across my forehead.

“Seems good right now John. Excuse me for a moment”.

“Sure I’ll carry on. I won’t look!”

I would have laughed but needed to get my trousers down – NOW! Except… whilst trying to navigate over the harness, under the food pouch, to find the belt buckle, then fumbling to release the buckle, it was too late. Noooo! Managed to get the trousers down for the bulk of the bodily fluids to drop on the snow. DANG – hit and miss!

As I thought about changing underwear, memories returned of having got my entire leg wet in the Arctic Ocean. Thus decided it would be best to keep all clothes on rather than try to change and get cold. Instead I placed a spare small towel on my underwear to keep the damp from my skin.  At least it was a number 1 and not a number 2, and being on the clothing near the warmest part of the body, the damp clothes would hopefully dry. Yes readers I was wet and I smelt bad! (Thank you so much to Rachel and Renata who dealt with my disgusting stuff at the end.)

A Magic Hill Moment:  I rejoined John going up the hill he had mentioned earlier. The wind had dropped and wondered if he could smell me! Once up the top of the hill, he excused himself to boil water at the shelter. I contemplated stopping with him, but he told me to continue on.

A little ways on, the moon pulled apart the clouds to light up a beautiful steep downward slope before me. So as Doctor Who would say “Allons-y”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IlJFNMAJ-k

Luge, skeleton, bob sleigh head on. I paddled my sled over the edge and woosh – down a big dipper, through a narrow passage, twisted right, up a small slope, then back down, then left then right again, over a bridge, onwards a little further……woo hoo.  “Indian Jones, eat your heart out”! Yup a big grin stretched across my face and was excited at the prospect of doing it all over again. (nearly 40 hours into the event)

More Food Rejections: Walking on, my tummy was really rumbling. Nevertheless, trying to eat anything was super hard. The mouth rejected any more dough balls so I scratched around in my pulka for other types of bars. My mouth refused the 4 different varieties I carried. The Power Bar was sickly sweet, the Cliff Bar was yucky, the Life bar nearly made me throw up and the harvest crunch wasn’t doing anything for me.  The stomach complained so I forced down a Cliff bar. The body was repulsed and threw it back out.  I dug out the sweets the Arrowhead organisation had put in our “goody” bag. The body accepted it and would have to suffice for now.

Shoulder Injury: I continued slowly, contemplating picking up the bits of salty dropped food along the route, like cheesy biscuits, however decided it might be a bad idea. Jennifer caught up with me. She was moving strong. No sign of John. We moved together for awhile. She couldn’t be bothered to ride the small slopes and so I followed her on a “run down a small slope” and “Bam”. I tripped over my own rope, hit the ground hard, landing on my right shoulder. Jen hadn’t seen it and continued on, just as I must have done previously when people disappeared behind me.

I lay there temporarily looking up at the moon, thinking “Romeo, Romeo, where forth are thy, oh Romeo?”  Did my brain really want Romeo to pick me up?  Haha no such luck and no point in feeling sorry for myself.  My right shoulder hurt and was unable to extend, so rolled over, got up and adjusted how I would use the arm.  No more running down slopes for me!

Back to reality: Jennifer was leading about 50-100m ahead as I would sometimes sight her blinkies.  As I prepared to ride another steep slope, a snowmobiler appeared. Todd had come out to check on us:

“You’ve got 8 more miles to complete in 5 hours”

My brain spun. Time had taken a leap forward. We all blew 10 hours in lala land for 15 miles.

Todd indicated Jennifer was just in front by 100 metres.  Acknowledging, I let him know that John had stopped to boil water and would be close behind after.  Todd suggested we three work as a team to get each other there.  I acknowledged to hold back for John and we would all get there.  I felt confident John would catch up at my current speed as he had done so before.  In the meantime, I had a hill to ride. I took off, trying to look super cool as Todd looked on.  It went spectacularly wrong as I crashed into the side of the slope.

Electric Blue shapes

Electric currents that ran on the ground when I blinked

About 5am – Electric Ground: Soon blinking caused the ground to spark with electric blue lines and hints of red. Abstract lines that seemed to outline the texture of the terrain.

Perhaps the changing moon was affecting me, or perhaps the amyloid beta waste that was building up from sleep deprivation was short-circuiting something in my head. I blinked at the trees around to see if the same phenomenon would happen – nothing. I blinked back at the snow covered ground and sure enough electric blue lines spread out in all directions.

Confusion: Jen wasn’t too far in front and had stopped to debate with another participant, Jim Wilson. Jim insisted we were going the wrong way, at the same time he talked about going round in circles.  We pondered, thought about it and decided he was confused. We asserted we were going in the right direction and he needed to turn around, otherwise he would be backtracking on himself and would surely meet John who was behind us. He decided to go with our rationale and u-turned back up the track he had come from.

Nature’s Magic: The moon’s super brightness begun to dim.  The lunar eclipse was happening and as it progressed, the route ahead darkened forcing me to use my head lamp for the first time.  Temperatures dropped with the fading light. I called out to Jen and Jim to let them know, but they had now disappeared. With a down jacket thrown back on & avenger mask back in position, I walked slowly, watching the sky transfixed as the reddish tinge was being replaced with the moon’s blue. An eerie hush came over the world which was broken each time with my bizarre blue electricity blinking striking across the ground.

As some time went by, John appeared:

“Thank you for waiting for me. You really shouldn’t have. I’ve completed this event several times already. So you should make sure you finish as it’s your first time.”

“That’s okay, we have time for all of us to finish. Anyway look up at the moon. The lunar eclipse is happening.”  I was more excited about sharing the magic wonder that was taking place before us.

John looked up to admire the eclipse taking place, which was partly a dull reddish orange orb in the sky and partly a blue moon, then we continued on together.

Race to Checkpoint 3: As dawn brightened the sky, Todd appeared checking to see his “children at play” were safe. I yabbered about hallucinations and lunar eclipses and laughing patiently reminded me:

“You’ve got 5 more miles and 3 hours to go”

Dang –time was being screwy.  This meant 3 miles had been covered in 2 hours.  Needed to stop gawping at nature’s wonders and get moving.

“Yeah we’ll get there” I reaffirmed to Todd.

We got moving at what I thought was a 3 mile an hour pace.  John moves at a consistent metronome pace whether uphill, downhill, or on the flat. He is a machine! Mine varies: slow uphill, ride downhill and can be whatever speed on the flat.

John tried to encourage me to go on ahead as I maintained staying just before or behind him. So he tried to throw a small stone at the dog (me – not Pinky).

“A team is only as fast as its slowest member.”

Brain didn’t process and responded “We’ll all get there”

As John continued to talk and share stories on the uphill, John would slow down for me as I crawled up.

“Sorry John. Can’t respond much on the up hills” as I slowly trudged up backwards, “but don’t wait for me, keep going cos I’ll catch up”.

John understood as time was tight.  We only needed to have each other in sight to encourage each other along. As John continued up and then disappeared over the brow of each hill, I would struggle up and see him half way down the hill…..reminding me of a song:

He frequently looked back for me.  On seeing me at the top, and me waiting for him to clear the hill, he would move aside, signal for me to come and watch the mad lady careering down on her “luge-mobile”.

With the sun out, a glorious bright day, I checked with John on the time. We had two more hours. I schemed and shared a plan:

“If time becomes really tight, and when we get to the bottom of Wakemeup Hill, am gonna leave my sled at the bottom, run up, check in and then out and come back for my sled”.

John tried to explain the illogicalness of that plan as the check in point is partly on the hill.  The plan seemed logical to me as am faster going up the hill without the sled.  John’s words re-entered my brain:

“I’ve completed this event several times….” as I thought about bolted.  “Will see you at Ski Pulk”

One last phenomena was in the sky; a vertical rainbow! A partial Sun Dog to welcome the year of the dog!

SunDog

Photo credit: http://mendonomasightings.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/horizontal-rainbow-in-sky-photo-of.html

Approximately 2.5 miles covered and landed at Ski Pulk at 08:57. Caught Jim on his way out and Jennifer sorting stuff out. John came in 20 minutes behind. The team all clocked in with some time to spare.

Over 53 hours awake and personally still had not experienced the sleepy monsters.

However there was still about 23-24 miles to the finish which closed at 19:00 that day and 10 hours to complete this final section. This is where the hallucinations really began!

Next Post: The Battle

Chat

Arrowhead 135, (2/4): The Taming of the Dragon

The Ice Dragon of Arrowhead breathes ice and snow over the North Minnesotan Plains sometimes down to -60 degs F.  In those types of temperatures, the Minnesotans hide in their warm houses, except for the 135Arrowheaders.  In 2014, it brought the temperatures down to -50 degs C striking down many 135Arrowheaders.  But there are those who can play and ride the dragon and come out unscathed. I wanted to be one of them.

Dragon Picture

Meet some of the Arrowhead Racers

The Voyageur motel is the place to be for this event. It is close to the start line and the owners Sandy and Jerald are soooooo accommodating.  Nothing is ever too much for them.  Additionally you will meet vet Arrowheaders who have tamed the beast and come out every year to give homage. At the beginning of the week, we hung out with Bill Bradley and Ray Sanchez who will one day have his own Pinky dog to bring on the trails.

Bill and Ray

Bill, Rachel, Ray with the animals

By Friday and Saturday there was a full house of Arrowhead racers – mostly vets and a couple of newbies.

VetArrowheaders.JPG

The animals went out with a bunch of vet Arrowheaders

Neighbouring our rooms was Judd with the wicked pointy mustashe and his biker gang. Parker was down the hall (first man unsupported in 41:02); and the lovely Lynn and Daryl Saari next door (Lynn hope that flu bug goes away soon).  Upstairs was Jason (who brought Bisaniiwewin the tyre from Wisconsin and really wanted to play but paid Ken to stop him doing it again!) and the very fit John Storkamp (first man through in 38 hours). All these hardcore Arrowhead legends under one roof.

As for newbies: met the laid back and calm Alex Stoltz with his son at the Voyageur Café on Friday evening whilst baking some dough for the journey. Alex asked for advice, but really wasn’t one to give advice as had never completed the course.  The best I could do was share my race plan.  Out on the trail, checking the start point were also newbies Jeff and Dan. I felt like a mom showing the boys where the registration and start points were.

Back of the pack

B.P.R = Back of the Pack Racer – “Embrace the Alternate Reality”

This year was going to be different. I actually had a plan, better gear, a lighter sled (about 20kgs = 40lbs), and a bunch of animal friends to keep me company. The plan was to finish in the middle of the pack about 55 hours. However, Judd must have had an inkling of my tardiness as he came over on Sunday night to sign Bisaniiwewin and gifted a BPR sticker.

For a bikers’ look at Arrowhead you can read the BPR gang’s report here

Sunday 10pm: I lay in bed remembering the magic of Rovaniemi, wandering in the winter forest, the aurora borelis shimmering in the night sky and the frozen moisture suspended in the air, twinkling like fairy lights when the headlamp illuminated them. In this event, the meteorologists promised a lunar eclipse and the “blood moon”…. I imagined howling to the moon.

Race Day

29 January 2018, 4am: Rachel’s alarm sounded. As she got up to prepare herself, I kept still on my spot on the floor. Sleep had been patchy and I wanted more, considering that had very little the night before. Renata stirred some moments later. “What’s the time I ask?”

“Five Ten” she replied

Dang, I shot up, as meant to get up at 5am, cleared my bedding and filled bottles with hot water from what Jerald had purposefully boiled for us, as well as from the bathroom tap. Breakfast was a glass of coconut milk and chia seeds.  Well Cliff Young survived on drinking milk in his ultra:

What’s in me Sled? A travel bag with one litre of boiling hot water, a spare empty naglene bottle, two down jackets – one is an emergency jacket; food for 3 days (didn’t want to bother about a kit or food drop at Mel Georges); stove + fuel + matches; spare base layers in case; spare googles; spare gloves; spare bungee cords, spare hat; spare knickers, girly stuff; spare goretex outer legs, first aid kit, bivvy bag + -40 below sleeping bag, one snow mobile tyre weighing approximately 8-9 kgs (17-20lbs) called Bisaniiwewin, one pink dog called Pinky, one shark called Sharkey and a penguin called Princess Suma.

What did I wear? Wearing 4 layers on my torso plus a 750 ml bottle in my jacket and a Nathan bladder + food + lights + gloves for all occasions (liner gloves + gloves + over gloves) + hand/toe warmers for just in case. On the legs was a base layer and a pair of walking trousers. On the feet a thick pair of woolly socks and a pair of running shoes covered with an overshoe. Hat on head + neoprene balaclava + wool buff.

6:15am: Renata helped us move our sleds out the door into the cold onto snowy grounds. Already the ice dragon had made its presence felt, gently cooling the previous week’s temperatures to -11 degs F (-24 degs C) and a dusting of small flakes gently fell from the skies.

Start to Gateway

As snowflakes danced, fireworks lit up the dull cold morning sky, marking the start of the event. The bikers were let loose, followed by the skiers and then the runners…..and I was there on the start line.  By the time we had started, the snow had stopped and the cold had begun to wrap itself round the body with hands slightly numb.  Big gloves were donned and jogged for at least 5K to warm up. Once the hands were warm, I stepped it down to a fast walk to regulate the body temperature. My North Pole buddy had always reminded me “You sweat you die” – Die of hypothermia if your clothes got wet.

Walking Zombie: After a mile, Rachel passed me. She is a strong, tough lady and was sure she’d be in the top 3 women. In fact, many people overtook me, as I slowed down.  Joe Lang slowed to converse with me. I grunted some responses trying to sync the brain to understand the conversation and the body to understand to keep moving.  As Joe chatted away, I wished for a cup of coffee to kick out the sludge in my head. When he finally sped on, I was thankful for the quiet and returned to closing my eyes for a one to two second walking nap.

The first 10 miles are pretty monotonous with long straight lines, nonetheless was thankful the terrain was like a frozen pavement underfoot. The trail was in the best condition compared to my previous two attempts and I speculated there would be a high number of people finishing this event compared to previous years.

After 10 miles, “eye of the tiger” Bill Bradley had caught up and we gave each other quick words of encouragement. My head was finally waking up.

Towards Gateway2

Bill and I would play leapfrog until Gateway, the first checkpoint.  Newbie Alex overtook me 10 miles from Gateway looking sturdy with every step he took.

Gateway: A Luxury Stop

17:59: At 36 miles, Gateway is checkpoint 1, a store and petrol station where we are encouraged to eat, drink and be merry. The new owners have embraced the Arrowhead event making this a luxury pit-stop with 3 types of homemade soup, multiple types of coffee, a free flow of hot water, and a “OMG from me”….shoe dryers and clothes drying facilities available.  There was a crazy merriment inside from the owners, employees, spectators, and racers. I could imagine a barn dance happening here, if it weren’t for the worn out bodies spread on the floor….

“Rachel! What’s up?” I was surprised to see her on the floor.  She was looking quite down, as she wrestled with her head.

“I’ve been here since 4pm, my stomach’s unwell and I’m bored….”  Renanta looked concerned.

“Ok rest and get something to eat. Get that mojo back” I tried to be positive for her.

Rachel forced some soup down, but I know how she was feeling, having experienced the same physical and mental attributes when mentally tired. Sometimes we just need time out to reconnect our physical, mental and spiritual selves with each other, other times we just need a reboot.

As Rachel was being well cared for, I went into “lala land” talking to other racers; catching up with Bonnie, singing my own songs whilst waiting for clothes to dry.  Lynn Saari came in, Bill followed after. He was looking anxious, wanting to get in and out to make time, and not be drawn in by negative emotions.  I considered going back out with him at 7pm, but my buddy Rachel was down.

I cajoled her and tried to lift her spirit to move on from the mental beating she was giving herself. Mike (an Arrowhead finisher and now volunteer) continued to encourage me to help her, so I patiently waited for her to get her head in order.

Facing the Ice Dragon

20:00 Rachel was ready to go….kind of reluctantly.  I was hopeful she could turn herself around and enjoy the moonlit trail, after all the trail after Gateway is more interesting with undulations and steepening hills. We headed out warm, with down jackets on + outer shell trousers, and closed down the Complaints Department.  We needed to move forward positively.  Rachel’s slow is my fast and knew I would struggle to keep her pace.  I encouraged her to keep moving at that pace as she sauntered on ahead. We both enjoy the solitude of oneself, so if she was now feeling right in herself, I was happy to let her work the trail at her own pace.  Nonetheless, I would catch up with her each time by riding the slopes.

“You should try it!” I said to her, once I had caught up with her.

Rachel was now moving at my speed and found a slope. “This one?”

“Yeah go for it”

She sat on her sled and sped off along the gentle slope.  I followed after.  As I caught up with her, she thanked me however slowed down further.

“Come on Rachel we can do this.”

She moved slightly ahead and then stopped at the side, signalling she was okay and for me to move on, she would catch up. I moved on, slowly, uncertain to stay or go, but if I hung around it would irritate. Sometimes we just need space to know what we must do. I continued hoping she would regain her composure, often looking back and soon the seemingly endless trail behind collapsed into a black void.  30 minutes and she had not appeared. I wondered if I should have stayed with her. It was too late now. She is a tough gal, having undertaken enough solo expeditions in the snow and ice…. and she is Swiss…..totally organised! She had excellent gear, so I knew she’d be safe. You can read her story here

An hour later I met Bill, he was going to bivy out and I wished him a restful sleep.  As I headed on into the night, enjoying the moonlit trail, the sound of snowmobiles would soon pierce the quiet. Eight times they passed me as they headed out and then back, each time towing someone out of the event. Sheep Ranch Road felt close by.

There, just before Sheep Ranch Road, a shadowy figure was on the trail. As I closed in, it was one of the snowmobile volunteers. We chatted away and found out that Rachel had been picked up and was safe. I decided to forego saying hello, having stopped by this bus in the past to encourage someone to go on. The air would be “heavy” with weary racers beating themselves up in an almost unforgiving way.  There was nothing more to say or do but to let each reconcile their moments out on the trail.

I was in a happy place enjoying every pain free step amazed about the amount of light was projected onto the trail.

See here for great pictures and a fantastic report from Alex Elizabeth

It would be quiet from this time onwards and in the sky was a very weak shimmering green tinge. The full moon’s light was too strong for the aurora borealis and I would have to be satisfied with playing the music of War of the Worlds in my head and remembering the aurora at Rovaniemi.

I was surprised to catch up with Alex as had figured he should have been way ahead. He was with John Taylor, who after some minutes stopped to boil water.  Alex moved on slowly, always looking back, giving me time to to catch up with him and we hung out for a while. We again discussed plans and agreed to go through the night to Mel Georges. Once there we could reconsider the time to see how much “rest time” we could enjoy. He seemed serene and happy, and I was enjoying his company as we propelled ourselves down the small slopes. On one slope, he signaled for me to go ahead, I did and marched onwards, singing a song. After about 10 minutes, I realised he had not followed and was no longer behind. I called out – no one responded.

“Perhaps he stopped for a pee” I thought.

I walked slowly, looking back every so often and after 30 minutes soldiered on, deciding he must have stopped to rest.

I caught up with two women. One was strongly ascending the steepening hills, the other moving somewhat slower.  I chatted to the back lady briefly, a pretty dark haired lady, Kari, before catching up with her buddy in front. She was a shorter maybe blonde haired lady who decided to lay down on the snow whilst waiting for her buddy to get to the top. It seemed a strange thing to do, so I checked to see if she was okay. She indicated she was okay. I asked again to make sure & she signaled to me she was fine and for me to move on.

Along the spine of the dragon, temperatures were plummeting. John had earlier on told me it was about -30 degs F (-35 degs C). Am sure it was colder and a chill crept over the body, despite wearing the heavy duty over gloves and down jacket. Time to work a little harder to warm up before stopping to find the emergency down jacket in my sled. Perhaps tiredness was in my head, but an illogical brain connection had been made as I wasted time searching through a small hole that had unzipped in the bag. As my left hand cooled down, I gloved it back up with the over gloves, ran on the spot and then changed over to the warm right hand, removing the gloves down to the liner to rummage in the bag.

After a little “dig around”, felt the jacket stuck behind some other gear. The fool me continued trying to work the jacket out from behind gear and under the bungee cord strapping with the hand that was rapidly becoming cold and numb. It would have been easier to have unclipped the cords to make the task easier. By the time I had pulled out the emergency jacket, the two women had overtaken me and the fingers on my right hand had become frozen.

“Idiot! Fool me, fool me!” – I scolded myself as I recalled 2014 and had frostbite and quickly pulled the jacket on.

I could have put my hand on my neck or down my trousers but the synaptic nerves weren’t sparking. I was going to test my warming powers.

“Fool me, fool me, fool me” I again uttered. The ice dragon smiled whispering “I got you”

“No you haven’t buddy”

I flung my hand down hard several times: “C’mon babies be strong”

I moved quickly, as the ice dragon clenched my right hand….”I got you”

“No way buddy…” I punched the air several times and semi ran pushing hard up the hills and down. I soon reached the two women at the top of a hill. By now three fingers were just come back to life, and felt a little nipped. My little “pinky” finger was still rock hard.

“I couldn’t see you.” said the blonde haired lady. “Your reflectors are all covered”

“Yeah” I was a little confused. “I’ve got my emergency jacket on. Gotta warm up. It’s cold. It’s only temporary” as I continued to try to wake up my little finger in my glove by wrapping the other fingers around it.  No way did I want to sort out anything further at this moment in time.

Kari turned to me: “The snow mobiles won’t be coming out again until dawn or when we call them. It is the early morning so I wouldn’t worry.” I thanked her for her kindness.

Blinkies and reflectors are so the snowmobiles can see you and part of the mandatory gear.

There appeared to be a momentary pause, as they seemed to be waiting for me, so I took off down the hill and slightly crashed and they followed in pursuit, with a “wheee”. I smiled. Always fun to see tough people letting their hair down.

As we were together at the bottom of the hill, and to make light that I was still with them: “Just hanging out with you gals. Hope that’s okay” and thought had heard one of them respond “Yeah sure” or perhaps I had imagined it.

I hung with them, still trying to warm my little pinky and was grateful to ascend another glorious hill to force the body furnace to fire harder. This was the first of the big steep ones.  At the top, the little finger was finally free of the ice dragon. I looked up and mouthed thank you. It was alive, working well and not even nipped! This time I waited for the other two women to go down and followed them down, steering my sled on the twists and turns like a luge rider, finishing to the left of the blonde haired lady. She seemed somewhat annoyed with me:

“You know I really cannot see you! Your blinkers have turned over in your sled and your reflectors are hidden. It would be a shame if you were disqualified having got so far.”

I looked at my blinkers. “Ahh you’re right. Thanks”. I turned them back over and decided to hold back, pretending to get something from my sled. As they got up to go, Bisaniiwewin reminded me….so I whispered “Peace be with you sister” and let them move on ahead. She was right, I hadn’t thought much about the emergency down jacket covering my normal down jacket which had a reflective vest on, and perhaps I scared her when I slid in next to her…but well…. I sighed, ate and drank something, feeling a little disappointed….maybe I smell…speaking of which…

At Mel Gerorges

Bisaniiwewin: Pulling For Peace

I did a quick check of cheeks, ears, and nose. My nose had frozen solid under the balaclava. It had been constantly streaming on the way out of Gateway and should have taken that as a sign.

“No way are you getting this one either buddy. It’s mine”

I placed my gloved hand over my nose and got moving. After some minutes, it warmed back up and I pulled the wool neck gaiter over the nose to reduce the risk of further refreezing.

Soon I caught up with a woman and a man who had seemed so strong earlier on in the first leg towards Gateway. He seemed blurry eyed. They had tried to sleep but had felt cold and were feeling very tired.  I was kind of familiar with this part as had been picked up at this location in 2012 on my first attempt for being slow.

“We’re about 8 miles from Mel Georges and we’re still in excellent time. C’mon you can do it. Keep moving,”  I encouraged.

The dawn was coming and noticed they too had their reflectors covered up with their down jackets, then tried to remove the pettiness of the earlier comment out of my head.

As dawn broke, it became warm enough to take off the emergency outer jacket.  The gloominess of yesterday’s morning seemed to melt away.

Closing in on the lake, I stopped again to take my googles out of my sled ready to face the wind.  The woman, Bridget, had caught up with me, leaving her buddy about 100 metres behind.  He was moving slowly but steady.

We chatted a little, crossing the lake together and there was a calm over the lake with just a subtle light breeze and sometimes a wind behind us to push us along.  She shared with me her feet were hurting. I told her mine were too as I could feel the blisters bubbling under the forefoot on both feet.

Mel Georges – the R & R Checkpoint

09:51 Mel Georges. It turned out mine were blisters and her toes were frostbitten. Dang! I gave her a hug, acknowledging she will complete this event the next time.

Mel Georges is checkpoint 2 with hot cheese sandwiches, hot soup and a table of salty and sweet snacks. Upstairs there are beds for you to rest. Downstairs is a fire where you can try to dry your clothes.

Rachel and Renata came in to welcome me and I was happy to see Rachel safe. She lent me her “cold avenger” mask to protect my frost-nipped nose and then left to check out of their cabin to move onto Fortune Bay, the final stop.

As the blisters were being tended to by Bill the medic, Lynn turned up with Sarah: “Come on over and see us. We’ve got a cabin”

11:05 Blood blister was drained, covered with Compeed, applied a whole lot of Vaseline to my nose, and checked out of the crowded checkpoint, to head over to the cabin Lynn and co had rented.

I was happy to have escaped the talons of the dragon.  I got nipped but was not bitten and the dragon had let me play on those spiny hills. As for the nose, it must have been to celebrate the year of the dog.

Burnt Nose

16 Feb 2018 = Chinese New Year

Kindness brings so much more joy to those around as well as yourself. I am thankful and blessed to have met so many kind people in this event who have warmly welcomed me back each and every time. Lynn and Daryl certainly went over the top for me, which I will be eternally grateful to them.

72 miles completed and 63 miles to go. Time is going good but it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

Race Post Part 3: The Hare and the Tortoise

Chat

Arrowhead 135, (1/4): Connecting with My Fluffy Team

I had started this event as a girl and finished the event as a lady!

Some background

This is a 135 mile event that has to be completed within a 60 hour limit

You can run, bike or ski. Temperatures can go down to -50 degs C as it did in 2014 and bit my fingers.

It is held at the end of January as this typically has the worst weather and starts at International Falls, a town on the US/Canadian border. It should be known as Killer Frost Falls but not to put off visitors, it is called the Icebox of the Nation. The route is along a snowmobile trail, which is mostly along the Arrowhead Trail. It is very reasonably priced at $200 USD. You are expected to carry all your own survival gear and boil water if you have to. There are 3 checkpoints along the entire route and a snowmobile rescue will come out if you call for one.

Know how to use your gear and ensure you have the right gear for your own safety. The official website is here: http://www.arrowheadultra.com

I went hunting for the Ice Dragon 2012 and 2014. Both times the dragon kicked me off and in 2014 bit my fingers as a warning.

2012 attempt: http://tyregirl.com/the-adventures-of-tyre-girl/arrowhead-ultra-pulling-for-peace

2014 attempt: http://tyregirl.com/the-adventures-of-tyre-girl/arrowhead-ultra

2018 would be my 3rd attempt.

Many sprouted the “3rd time lucky” motto. I really dislike this phrase as it feels like you can keep trying and luck will somehow intervene on your 3rd attempt and miraculously make everything happen. How about 1st time lucky or 2nd time lucky or nth time lucky? Load of hash browns & fish fingers if you ask me. Am happy that I did fail the first two times. It taught me to be more respectful of the environment, and how to better equip myself in my mind, body and soul. Failure happens because we fail to prepare in areas that need strengthening. God likes proactive people. The Bible is littered with “proactive” people doing great things who have been both physically, mentally and spiritually prepared to go forward.

To prepare, I found a shorter event to complete in the form of Rovaniemi 150 (150 kilometres). In this event, Isaiah 40:29-31 and Matthew 14:22-33 whispered continually in my ear.

https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/65-rovaniemi-150-luck-angels-and-lsd/

So 150K completed, and now with my newfound confidence, I no longer wanted to hunt the dragon, but was ready to tame the great Ice Dragon of Arrowhead.

Arrowhead Preparations

9 December 2017 completed my last long run along the North Downs Way of 30 miles with my buddy Paddy. December and January are administrative months with the taxman thumping on my door, so training was limited to strengthening the Achilles and lower back with stair dips and back exercises respectively, interspersed with about 10 miles a week to keep the body going.  At the same time, I visualised the route to the first two Arrowhead checkpoints, seeing what I was doing, how I was feeling. In my mind, once I had got to the second checkpoint in good time, then I could play it by ear. Rome marathon taught me the power of visualisation.

17 January 2018: Finished personal tax, dumped winter gear onto sled and flew out to the US on the morning of 18 January.

I dropped in to visit my adopted US family that has been part of this learning journey on my last two attempts; who cared for me when I limped back to them. It was also to pick up important team members:

  • Bisaniiwewin (16-18 lb tyre) – Lynn, an Arrowhead finisher, had organised the tyre to be brought up by Jason – a dedicated athlete & Arrowhead multi-finisher.
  • Princess Suma – a peace penguin and daughter of an Emperor
  • Pinky – a fluffy dog full of love
  • Sharkey – to provide aggression to help me attack the route when needed
TeamMembers

Pinky and Sharkey in the picture; Princess Suma is absent as out playing in the snow

The plan was to go to International Falls the week before to get some R & R as the last two attempts, my very jetlagged brain hated starting at 7am. 2012/2014 taught me to arrive with plenty of time to keep the mental side calm. In 2014, I was still in the toilet when the start had kicked off.

22nd January 2018: A snow storm visited Minneapolis and all flights were cancelled to International Falls. Plans scuppered temporarily and instead a snow shoveling workout would have to be sufficient.

SnowShovelled Drive

Left: Shoveled Drive; Right: Snowstorm

23rd January 2018: More snow shoveling to get out of the drive. Managed to strain a muscle in the peck. So pathetic!

Arnica

Arnica to the rescue

You’re Going No Where

I laid my cardboard boxed sled next to the rope barrier that guided passengers to collect their boarding pass and informed a “check in” service lady that I was just leaving the sled to queue to get my pass. As I went to the back of the queue she calls out:

Check-in Lady1: “Are you checking that in?”

“Yes” I replied

Check-in Lady1: “Hmm, that is rather big and will be $200 USD to go through”

“Ok” I replied a little puzzled

Check-in Lady1: “Where are you going?”

“International Falls”

Check-in Lady1: “Hmm. Come on over, I’ll check you in”

I was grateful, but as I followed her to her counter another lady who was managing the Boarding Pass line calls out to me and tells me that I need to go pick up my boarding pass first.

Check-in Lady1: “It’s okay, I’ve got this”

Check-in Lady2 comes over to me, and wags her finger at me, annoyed that I was “jumping the queue”, telling me what I was doing was not right and what I should be doing.

I looked at her, trying to give her a puppy dog confused look (Pinky’s head was peering out of my coat at the time) and she wagged her finger further. After her tirade at me, I responded “Thank you for letting me know”. She then turned away and returned to the other passengers.

In the meantime, Check-in Lady1 had taken out her measuring tape, ummed and ahhed: “This isn’t going to fit in the hold. It’s a small plane. Look it is one inch too long! I am not going to check you in because we cannot guarantee this will get on with you. You need to go to Specials and send this some other way”

Anxious and confused, I borrowed a trolley and took the sled over to Specials, leaving it near the front and joined the queue. There were two service women on one side and two service men on the other. I wished to see a man as have been “unlucky” with the check in women at St Pauls in the past. I remember having baggage of 51.5 lbs and was told to take out 1.5lbs of gear or be charged an excess weight. 1.5lbs is about the weight of a pair of socks! One of the men called me over and I explained that the other lady would not check me in as she thought my sled would be too big for the hold. He asked to see the sled. I placed Pinky and Sharkey on the counter top, introduced them to him……and he greeted each one of them as I went to pull over the trolley with my sled to his counter.

BoxedSled.JPG

Check-in man: “Yup looks no problem”

Me: “Really?”

Check-in man: “Yup and when I sign it, it will be on that plane”

My anxiety dropped and we had a nice conversation about the Arrowhead event.

Check-in man: “Now have a great event and don’t get frostbite”

Me: “I love you sir. Thank you”

Yeah I went a bit mushy as I just experienced night and day and a good reminder that an event can start off negative, but just got to believe in the positives. A pat on the head to Pinky

Catch Up and Final Preps

I would catch up with the amazing Rachel and her equally wonderful and loving friend Renata at St Paul’s airport.

Meeting Rachel

Rachel had decided to see this dragon that I had chatted about when she was doing Rovaniemi 300 and I was doing Rovaniemi 150. Her friend Renata came to support her. We shared a room and the organisation of each of us couldn’t be more different:

  • Rachel was so well organised and ready to try out her gear
  • I was still sorting out stuff, deciding on what I should take on the trail. My kit exploded into piles of mess in the room and I couldn’t find a thing….but it had been a long day and bed reeled us in early.

24th – 28th January 2018

Being part of the “Last Minute” club, I was still sorting out gear, purchasing another set of lights and carabineers, sewing on reflective tape onto my harness and gluing the over boots onto my running shoes (as suggested by Ray Sanchez – another participant). The tireless Jerald and Sandy (owners of the Voyageur Motel) were soooo helpful having all the tools to help make all the last minute adjustments. So many more thank yous to them both and hope they can find good people to work in their motel.

At the same time, Bill Bradley, whose team had helped me get around when my fingers had been burned in 2014, was at the motel. He was doing his 7th attempt and had concerns. We concluded that with the right reasons for completing an event, the negative and disappointment that can be felt from fellow competitors who quit can be deflected…..and off I went to do some sled practice with Bill. Bill is like a big brother, who I want to help just as much as he cares for others (myself included).

Video of Sled Practice

The undertaking to organise this event is huge, and so offered my services to help out. We were given a special project to put fluorescent tape on the posts.

Preparing Posts

Yup – Pinky (Ray) staples the tape onto the post, Princess S (Bill) cuts the tape and Sharkey (Me) sticks the tape onto the posts.

During the week, Ray and Bill pitched in to help create the posts that would guide participants along parts of the route, and on Saturday we loaded and unloaded two trucks of gear to Baccus – the registration area. We would have happily done more, except we all still had to do last minute preparations. I was still sewing the reflective tape onto my harness to prepare for the 4 o’clock registration.  Jason also dropped by to present Bisaniiwewin…..the animals brought her in.

The Animals Bring Bisaniiwewin to Tyre Lady

GearCheck

Mandatory Gear Check

Saturday at 17:30 had organised a dinner date with Al – a Canadian who I had met on my last 2 attempts at Gateway and always got me food. I must have looked pathetic! He would be helping and supporting some other racers this time round and great for my Swiss buddies to meet someone new.

By Sunday, my gear was finally ready to do a test run with my entire entourage. I had made some minor changes to the Rovaniemi gear, carrying more food and an extra emergency down jacket for the extra cold. It roughly weighed 40lbs (about 20kgs).

TEsting the Trail

The team testing the trail

Rachel and I ran over to the Baccus for the pre-race briefing, and I hung around after for the pasta dinner to chat with Stephen and Erv the oldest man in the event at 75 young years. Great to see the dinner now uses ceramic plates instead of the single use plastic polystyrene in previous years. In the future, hope they get rid of the plastic cups for drinking, perhaps encourage the participants to Bring Their Own Cup as provided in the goody bag!

PastaDinner

Pasta Dinner on Reusable Dishes

The only part missing now was sleep. A sleepless night on Saturday night and a chopped up sleep on Sunday night.

The difference between quitting and finishing is having the right reasons for completing an event. Without those reasons, it is so easy to quit when the going gets tough.

Next post: The Taming of the Ice Dragon