There is so much I would like to say about this trip, so I thought I’d break this race recap into three parts and spread it out over three blog posts, haha, so will be essentially dragging this one out (and especially considering our crap to non-existent internet here at the moment – there’s a good chance this one could easily be drawn out for a good few weeks!).
So, this post will cover Day 1 of this 3 day challenge: 42.195km through beautiful Kaili:
I’d woken up bright and earlyish (after finally getting to the hotel room about half 11 the previous night) to the sound of constant, heavy rain. Oh dear. After signing away my luggage (that was to be transported while we were running, to the next hotel and town), I set about some last minute preparations (coffee! And race bibbing etc) before strolling down the mountain to the starting line. I pretty much got saturated from there on, and spent the whole race, all four hours and four minutes of it drenched and quite cold. Oh well, a minor negative, because: yay! 4:04 was my time for day 1: I had beaten my own humble marathon pb (previous pb was 4:35) by a good half an hour! Oh, and you know, finished my first day of a 3 day challenge, running over 100km on Thunder Mountain, injury free - but very sore and stiff at the end of it. Especially my right knee. That felt very strange.
For most of the race, I was running with a team of sorts, there was about 4 of us and sometimes some would be behind and sometimes ahead. The team dropped down to just three for a good while, and I was so trying to keep up with those other two guys (very strong runners, and a good laugh too - one of whom I'd met at the 50km event back in June, so it was great to see him again) but as the 35km marker came and went, my pace was noticeably slowing and I just couldn't keep up with them. I assured them I was fine, and not injured (just slow!), and told them to go ahead and I'll catch them at the finish line (which I did - they both got a sub-4 time! Awesome!).
Those last 7 kilometres were hard, let me tell you! Previously passed runners were passing me back now, as I shuffled onwards, telling myself 'this will soon pass'. Which it did. Before I knew it, I was running down the last stretch of kilometre and into the town to finish, passing by hundreds of school children and locals shouting 'ja yo!', 'come on!' and 'fighting' along with hundreds of outstretched hands ready to high-five and slap me as I went past. Phew, I had done it! Finished my 3rd ever marathon, and finished in my best time yet. Not bad, considering the rain and rubbish weather, and all the hills - on Day 1 the route took in many long hills that just kept on giving, especially three out and back turn off sections. Ouch.
Due to the less than perfect weather conditions, I sadly didn't take too many photos on Day 1, but here are a few to give you an idea of what went down.
Stay tuned for Day 2's recap, coming up in the next post. Thank you for all your wonderfully motivating and inspiring and lovely messages too! These helped no end too, so thanks a lot!!