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Comrades 2011

Mike Halloran

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Mike Halloran, 12987
UK novice

I never managed to sleep on the plane over from the UK. I had felt incredibly tired the previous few days and was really worried at the thought of not having any energy for the race. On the morning I got up at 03:30 after an early night and felt physically much better and well rested.

However, I do remember standing in my pen “F” as it filled up, thinking – “what on earth am I doing here? I won’t even get half way” – I had got it into my head that reaching Drummond before the cut off was going to be impossible.

Well the start was really enjoyable and I became a bit more relaxed. I remembered all the advice about taking it slowly at first and kept my discipline, allowing people to stream past me in the dark and not worry about it.

My main goal was to finish and get a medal, full stop. I remember asking Nikki about this in one of my many, many emails to her . She advised that I  go for a sub-11, which would give me a bit of a buffer if things went wrong.

I remembered to do some walking, early doors, up Cowies. I eventually came across one of the buses. At the time I don’t know which one it is, but it does seem to be about the right pace for me. It turns out to be the sub-11 bus – how lucky is that! I stay with it, sometimes in it, sometimes just behind or even ahead. I occasionally fall off when I stop to get a stone out of my shoe or get some sustenance out of my bag. I keep them in sight, don’t panic and gradually catch them up again. I mainly walk Fields,  but at a good pace. Just around Arthurs Seat I get a massage on my left hamstring, which is a bit of a weak point for me. At this stage it’s not too bad, but prevention is better than cure.

Go past Arthurs Seat and pay my respects in the usual fashion. Anything for an edge. I can’t believe it when we hit Drummond at 10:33! Confidence starts to creep in, but I know that I must still keep disciplined and watch my speed and gait to avoid the dreaded hamstring cramps. The bus hits Inchanga and employs a run and walk strategy. We just seem to eat it up with little problem. The bus just goes on like a wave, receiving lots of cheers and support as it goes. It’s an amazing experience and it really helps me keep going.

Somewhere around the beginning of Harrison Flats I get my right leg massaged, which is wonderful and gives me a great boost. At Cato Ridge, someone offers me a deckchair to sit on whilst I get some gravel out of my shoe, they ask where I’m from and offer tips and advice and tell me I must do the down run one day. First things first. We go through Little Polly’s without any problems. At Polly Shortts, the bus driver pulls in for a pit stop. I carry on, walking at pace to the top. It takes its toll on both my hamstrings-luckily there is a massage station at the top! I get both legs done this time. I set off again just ahead of the bus and begin to pull away from it.

The dreaded hamstring cramps begin to make an appearance, so I slow down and change my gait, stop and stretch it out as best I can, then gently start again. As I’m running along the Toyota path someone shouts out “where are you from sir?” –“England, UK” I shout back. There is a big cheer, which really boosts my spirits, just what I needed. I then seem to fly down the palm lined avenue, into the stadium and belt round the track to the finish! 10:36:46 – Bronze medal.

I’m absolutely thrilled, it’s better than I had ever hoped for. I hook up with another British runner in the international tent and we discuss the day. Eventually to a huge cheer, in comes the sub-11 bus.

For me, the whole experience has been amazing. I have met, spoken to, emailed and texted so many people who have been selfless in offering their time, help and advice. But a very special thanks must go to Nikki for all her help, putting up with and replying to all my questions and queries.

Thanks very much indeed!

So, does anyone have any ideas on how to tackle the down run ………………………………

External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2011