I can't remember my name. I'm blinded by sweat running into my eyes, my legs feel like someone is playing a blow torch over my thighs, I'm panting like a steam train and I can't remember my own name.
It is only 20 minutes into day two of the RAB Mountain Marathon and I have no idea what I am doing here or why. I do vaguely recall that it was my wife's idea to take up the sport and that once (a billion years ago) I said I might like to do one of these mountain marathon thingies with her.
Day one started all right. Nice weather, brilliant scenery, an 8:30 am start in the Lake District after a wonderful full English Breakfast in a pretty and very hospitable B&B. Then came 6 hours of the most unbelievable physical effort. OK, if you know me then you know I am not an athelete. 210lbs of computer bound management. I run a bit, but 10km is my limit. I cycle a bit, but only 60km on road, 30km off road. Fit, but fat. And 45. And not cut out to run up mountains. We did a bit of that on Day 1. We ran, walked, climbed, slogged, scrambled and sweated until we both felt we were going to die. (Caroline is a bit fitter than me – 120lbs of marathon running ultra-fit competitive person in lycra). And we still came in last on points.
Last on points, into a field where 413 people were all camping in ultralight gear and EVERY single one had a smile on their faces, and were happy, friendly and helpful. Honestly, I have never ever in my whole life met a group of people who were better company to strangers. They may all be certifiably insane, but I'd like to shout out a huge “THANKS!” to the young medical student, the family-that-was-not-a-family, Sedger, Brian, Hayden, the two blokes for whom “romance is dead, at least in this tent”, the man who sold us milk and everyone in that little field by a stream. Amazing people, all of you.
We ate, slept (like dead things), woke up, cooked, and then set off.
The first clue should have been the name of the hill: Great Cockup. I might have guessed… 20 minutes later, I could not remember my name. But I did know that, in front of my 411 new friends, I was not going to give up. Not there, not ever. So we went on. We went over that hill, and on over many more hills. We ran for 5 more hours, with injuries, blisters, wet feet, sprained ankles, cut hands and more pain than I have experienced (Caroline said “childbirth was worse; just”).
By the way, is there some historic plot to give the Northern Lake District comedy names? Great Cockup, Little Cockup, Willy Knot, Burn Todd? Come on, they are all made up for tourists, surely?
We finished Day 2 with more points-per-hour than the first day, and even huger smiles. We still (probably) came last.
That is the price of entry to the most exclusive sports fraternity in the UK.
Mountain Marathoneers! I salute you all. At least now I can remember my name. See you next year?