Day 2 started off pretty much as day 1 did with the added feeling of being hit by a bus and I felt very emotional when I woke up. I have no idea if this was down to what I had already achieved in day 1 (have I mentioned I’ve done an ultra 😉) or because I was doing it all over again and I was beyond tired. I had huge, huge concerns for my knee, it had really started to play me up on the running parts of yesterday and I just wasn’t sure how far it would get me. I was carrying painkillers and got the knee taped up before we began so I was good to go.
Starting at Steeple our first check point was in Maylandsea, a short 4.1 miles on fresh 😳 legs (my legs where anything but fresh!). We went straight in with the run walk, I wasn’t gonna be able to keep up much running today and I was so thankful that my buddy’s were happy to go with this. The weather was looking good for us although a little chilly to start with it was bright which was a relief after the horrendous rain we’d had the evening before. We set off with a positive attitude and a lot of runners / walkers in sight, before we knew it we were at Maylandsea. We had a high five and hug from our support crew Dan and John, a quick selfie and kept moving forwards.
It was key for us to just concentrate on a stage at a time throughout this second day and I have to say Maylandsea to Maldon was a really tough leg for me. It was here I first started to feel a bit low and I could easily have had a little cry, but I knew I was with “pull yourself together” Jo and she’d made it clear there’d be no tears on her watch 🙄. As we approached Maldon I could see the white boat and I immediately felt better, it was right there we were so close now and I knew we’d have support waiting for us. I could have got emotional as we approached the boating lake but we’d had to stop and have a little look at which way we should be going so this was a good distraction. We had the lovely Natasha and Hayley from work there to buzz us in, I could see Dan and John ready and waiting for us. Jo also had an additional support crew for her here which is always a huge pick me up. We took our time to refuel, have a little sit down and catch up before we moved on, I really needed that stop.
Our next stretch takes us to The View at Osea Leisure Heybridge, we know this leg very well – it’s a lovely part of the Saltmarsh route and I know my family will be supporting me at the next checkpoint. It’s 4.9 miles long and I think we all felt out spirits rise as we left Maldon with some A-mazing singing from Jo to get us going 😂 guess the tune!!! Not a f*cking clue mate. I haven’t even watched shooting stars but we had a huge laugh at this and it was exactly what we needed. This section was the busiest part of the whole of Saltmarsh with many walkers along the sea wall which broke it up a bit seeing some cute puppy dogs along the way. Before long I could see The View in the distance, I was so ready to change my socks as my feet had become uncomfortable and soggy. My family were with Dan and John waiting for our arrival and it was great to see them here and have a quick chat, it also gave Jo the chance to get 5 cakes in her before we moved on.
Osea Leisure to Goldhanger Creek, a mere 2.1 miles this’ll be easy right? Piece of p*ss (right Jo?), well it wasn’t – it was just as tough as the previous 4.9 mile stretch. I was starting to struggle to get myself running again even though we were still run / walking there was definitely more walking and talking going on. I could feel that I was starting to lag behind a little and my toes were becoming really uncomfortable, but then we saw Zoe and Bob ahead who had arrived to cheer us through Goldhanger. Bob gave it his all to gear us up and get us moving but it wasn’t the time for it so we just did our best to ‘rush’ into check point 10. Time to refuel on yet more flapjack and Jo paid some attention to her blistered feet as it turned out we were all starting to struggle with foot issues and blistering. Although it was suggested I taped my toes up here I decided against it which turned out to be quite a mistake (yes Zoe, you told me so).
When I did this next stage in training I’d done it alone and I’d found it tough so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but I did not realise just how hard it would be. Bradwell would not leave us alone, it was mocking us constantly throughout the day always there in the distance, Tina’s game of I spy with my little eye something beginning with B just took it that step too far.
I needed a wee break, or just a break I wasn’t sure which, a little area of beach was pointed out to me so I gingerly made my way down the slope which really did not feel as sheltered as I was hoping for but I whipped my pants down and hoped for the best. Nope, I couldn’t go I knew Jo and Tina were nearby and that lead to stage fright so I had to find a more sheltered tree a few minutes later. As I found out a couple of miles on, stage fright is not something neither Tina or Jo suffer with – this is an image I will never get out of my head and although it took Shergar a good hour to get those shorts undone once she’d started there was no stopping her!!! 😂 such a funny moment, it was just a shame it hurt so much to laugh! The stiles here were a huge mission, I was getting stiff and my knee wasn’t too impressed with the action required to get over them – I’m sure it was a great look. To break this stretch up a little Jo gave her Mum a ring, “yes, I agree Mum it is ridiculous but they made me do it 😫” – the lies!!! With about 3-4 miles to go Jo and Tina thought they could see someone who looked just like John running towards us, I thought they were starting to lose the plot, that guy was running far too quickly to have been John (sorry 😜) but it turns out it was John 😀 he’d run along to meet us and keep us company through the last part of that mammoth stage. By this point there was far more walking than running but we were still attempting a run/walk strategy and my feet, they were becoming unbearable. I was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with Jo and Tina but luckily I had John supporting me, I really wasn’t great company as I tend to go rather quiet when I’m struggling so I do appreciate him sticking with me. I ended up doing the odd jog/shuffle to catch up with the power walkers (how did they walk so fast?!) although I did manage to hang on to them as we approached the check point. Here I just had to have a seat and take my socks off to see the damage to my toes and do all I could to prevent anymore pain. Dan had the lovely job of whacking some plasters over an already popped blister 🤢 and I am unbelievably grateful for the help I had from Rebecca, who had the nasty job of taping my toenail down with micropore tape and covering my toes in Vaseline. I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry at this point but I managed a roll and some more flapjack 😉 along with some painkillers.
Knowing there was just one stage left was all I could focus on to keep myself moving, if I’d given up here not only would it have completely broke my heart but I would have had to come back and do this all over again and I’m just not sure I could do that! Did I want to do another 8.5 miles to Saltcott-Cum-Virley, no – believe me I didn’t but I did want to complete this challenge and there was no way I was going to walk (hobble) away from it at this point. It took us the best part of a mile to start walking without it looking like we’d soiled ourselves and that was the end of any more running, it was walking from here on in. I was pleased the pace had slowed down from all of us as I was no longer able to keep up with the speed walking which had previously taken place. My patched up toes managed to hold on and what felt like 6 hours later I can hear Jo (who had by this point found a second wind and picked up some speed) “it’s Boris, is that Boris?!” Sorry Phill but you didn’t get a mention 😬. There was light at the end of the very, very long tunnel. Phill reliably informs us “just 10 minutes to go” and half an hour later we walk through the 4th “last gate” before crossing the field and reaching the road. I can hear the support at the finish, I can see the blue arch and I can just about muster up the energy to hold hands and jog across the line together with a big smile (grimace) on my face!
- Reaching Maldon to our amazing support crew and the marshals smiling faces 😊
- The pub singing & many laughs we enjoyed throughout the day – look there’s Bradwell 😂
- Seeing my family at Osea View, even if Thomas wouldn’t hug me 🙄
- Support from Bob, Zoe, Rebecca and friends along the way 👭👫👬
- John running to meet us towards Tollesbury 🏃🏻
- Running through the finish arch hand in hand 🏃🏽♀️🏃🏼♀️🏃🏻♀️
Lessons learnt from day 2
- Blisters hurt. A lot. 😟
- The Saltmarsh organisers lie, it’s not 75 miles – it’s about 78 🤦🏻♀️
- I enjoy a good hug 🤗
- Keep away from kids when you’ve got sore toes, they will stand on them 😡
- I can complete two ultras in two days 😀