Friday, 25 September 2015

Equinox Morph 2015

This is truly difficult to put into words although I will probably now ramble on and add quite a few. The essence of the event is a conglomerate of awesome kindness. If you took the 1300/1400 people involved in the event overall and asked them to run the country this nation would be filled with people holding doors open for others, allowing motorists to pull out in traffic, saying thank you and please, helping someone carry something heavy, treating everyone else with respect, saying good morning to each other and dishing out manhugs like sweets! I've said before that every 18-21 year old should be made to train for and complete an iron distance triathlon. As an alternative I would allow them to opt for Equinox as a solo. The amount you learn about yourself and others in the 24 hrs cannot be taught in any other arena. 

The stuff you witness and experience in the 24 hours is a world away from the daily shitty mind numbing grind that comes with being trapped in a job you hate, in a shit industry, where everyone is clambering over each other, its a world away from the motorist trying to kill you because he perceives his inability to overtake you on your bike as your fault and is prepared to end your life in momentary rage, its a world away from worry and stress and finances and sickness and illness!

Ironically being a solo is truly selfish. Concentrate on No 1 and just try to keep going is the key. The challenge for me is to see what I can do in 24 hours after last year slacking and stopping at about 10:30am. The will wasn't there to do just one more lap. This year I would crack on until the end.

Now, I am lucky, very lucky! I have a quite unbelievably awesome wife, Michelle, two cracking kids in Ellie and G Man and an extended family of Poppyfielders just about wherever I go. At Eqiunox Michelle, G Man and myself pitched the Team Poppyfields base on the back straight of the field on the Friday night. Soaked up some atmosphere while England knocked off Fiji and did a bit of mingling. I met some Outlaw pals including Dutchy who kindly said hello with a shoulder massage! His wife and kids looked set for some serious supporting and marshalling. I said hello to Glenn who I need to thank for most of the pics on here , Johnny and Laura who seemed remarkably chilled, Stewart Sale gearing up for some 'shot laps' in a relay team, Sarah who had won the Beer mile run, Lozza who was really looking forward to going solo for the first time and Kate who was back to defend her title. You wouldn't guess from the relaxed atmosphere that everyone was preparing for a 24 hour running race! After getting a snack (most fantastic burger ever from the exceptional Pop up Cafe) we ambled back to get some sleep. G Man asking on the way if I was famous because "everyone knows you are Sid".

After a night of extreme discomfort, lack of sleep, cold, howling dogs, singing sheep and crowing cockerels (do cockerels crow?) I was up at about 8.30am to a gorgeously sunny day. The next  few hours raced by as I pitched my solo tent, got my kit ready and looked after No 1. A kind solo let me use his car for my annual '90 mins 9 pairs of contact lenses' Morph vision prep and the rest of the time was spent meeting up with lovely kind people. Matt and Emma with the Pirate clan, Lena and Billy, Andy and his team pitched next to Team Poppyfields and just loads of well wishers for the 24 hours ahead as well as congratulations for the Outlaw BMX effort!

I tried (twice) for a lucky pre race poo. Body wasn't interested and once the Morphsuit was on I wasn't intending to go again for 24 hours! We listened to the briefing but really everyone by then just wanted to get cracking. Mich was taking the first lap for Team Poppyfields. She gave me the 'you've got this' hug and kiss and we were ready. Just before getting to the start a couple approached and asked if I was the BMX Bandit from Outlaw. I said I was and they asked if their lad could have his pic taken with me. The lad was wearing his 'Future Outlaw' T Shirt and had waited out in the rain to make sure I got the BMX back to t2 in time at Outlaw. What an ace lad! Of course I couldn't refuse.

I met Kaine and Bear in the starting pen and a few others. I moved towards the back with the intention of running 12 mins/mile. Took a moment to appreciate the fact it was 20 plus degrees under a scorching sun and I was in a Black Tuxedo Morphsuit!! Then we were off.

The run itself is a repeated 10.125km lap and it went a bit like this:-

Lap 1 - A steady pleasant plod round with Solo 59 Wolvo Paediatric medical man discussing all things Poppyfields and Childrens Hospitals!

Lap 2 - Somewhat more of a struggle as it became apparent early on that not only was it ridiculously hot but the new Morphsuit was acting as a cheese grater on the hairs on my chin!

Lap 3 - Was more of a struggle as the lack of running preparation became apparent and all of it became difficult.

Lap 4 & 5 however were positively lovely. Not sure why or what was different but I felt strong.

Lap 6 - Revealed to me that 4 & 5 were just toying with me as 6 was easily the most miserable lap of the day. Nothing was right. Stuff was hurting and mentally I was almost resigned to calling it a day. Indeed as I finished lap 6 my intention was to bail!

Lap 7 - The problem with bailing is that there are too many people willing you on and there is always someone to hold your hand. For me it was, as ever, Mich. She had sat me down and fed me a burger at the end of 6. She was very matter of fact that I would continue and she would walk 7 with me while the burger went down! We did and it was probably my favourite lap. 

Lap 8 - Was much better. Slow run/walk but I felt better despite my ass hairs doing their best to grate my inner cheeks!

Lap 9 - I have no idea but I think Mich joined me.

Lap 10 - No recollection at all which is odd as 10 was where I gave up last year so it was quite a milestone.

Lap 11 - Was a good one with Mich and Flamingo lady. The chatter being a great distraction. I ummed and arred throughout as to whether to do a 12th! I finished 11 at 11:20am. Johnny offered another lap...I accepted!

Lap 12 - Mich had rubbed my legs and set me up to go out on lap 12. She went off to wait for a team member to return so she could hopefully do a last lap herself. I marched (wobbled) on. It soon became clear that lap 12 wasn't gonna happen at least not on my own. As I rounded the first field I was all over the place. Very weak and uncoordinated. I had stopped for a breather and unzipped the hood of the morphsuit just after 1km. I had stopped. Truly wondering if I could do 12! I tried to pull myself together. A team caught me up and one of them offered to re zip me as I was clearly struggling. I got chatting to the guys telling them why I was suffering in a Morphsuit and I started to walk. The distances started to tick down as we passed 2km then 3km. We walked the hill reasonably well and from the top you know the back of the lap is broken with less than 5km left to go. Mich and Ken breezed by on their last lap ignoring my pleas to stay with me. (They marched on to be at the finish when I got there!) I was overtaken by 'Scottish Lady' who I had seen throughout ploughing on lap after lap. We chatted briefly as we tackled 'That Hill' for the last time. She was on her 18th and about to win with a new course female record! My adopted team saw me into the finish straight. The last competitor out there. Ellie and G Man ran me in as I carried the Team Bear flag with the motto 'Suffer but NEVER surrender'. Somewhat apt considering! As I approached the line the reception was truly outstanding. A humbling experience that I will enjoy for a long time. I applauded everyone as I finished as without all of them I wouldn't have got much further than lap 2!

What is missing from this recap is the massive impact everyone had on my 12 laps. I've name checked a few but that doesn't even scratch the surface of the help I received. Everyone who walked with me, ran with me, laughed at me, pointed at me, cheered me on, slapped me on the back, hi-fived me were equally instrumental in my effort. Mike Wells dropped in to support on each day and ran with me, Johnny walked me round the field from the crossroads at the end of a night lap, Shabba's let me warm up at their fire every lap as did 'solo support lady' just up from the finish and the group of blokes across the top by the field entrance, Cara and David (pairs) checked on me each time I passed & Kaine each time he ran by, Ade walked a couple of sections with me, the original Morphman Phillip Box gave me a nudge every time he went by, Suz and Tan took it in turn to do sections with me and Billy was both the provider of support at the top of the field and the deliverer of bad news when telling me how the Villa had got on, Cooker and the Alvechurch support crew kids were a constant highlight as was the varying levels of abusive shouts from Kate as she chased her way through the leader board, Wilko was his usual irritating tree hiding self and if the truth be told I preferred Barrister dancing with Mrs Wilk anyway, rapid Scottish guy delivered a good luck message from Colin Thompson at home in Aberdeed, Duane Roberts' words of encouragement despite him being gutted to have to pull out with a calf tear, Lena was a complete inspiration with a show of strength and determination I can only marvel at, every marshall was ace, Dutchy could manhug a grizzly, Disco Dave could Disco all night, The Peaky Blinder had Haribos, Laura making sure I was ok at the end of each lap, The Pirates giving me a constant shout, '1st time Ruth' and Amanda SBR and even Mr 'I'm gonna run through you rather than go around' kept my mind off the grind for a km or two, the sound of the Team Bear cowbells was one of the loveliest sounds to hear on the way down from the water stations, they provide superb hugs and the Team Bear Hoodie saw me through the night without a hint of the temperature issues I suffered last year. 

Of course, the highlight and most heart warming moment of each lap was seeing Team Poppyfields. Last year they were in the middle of the field so I didn't get to see them very often and they missed out on supporting. They made up for it big style this year and it meant I got to see Mich and the kids at least once a lap. All three of them taking it in turns to race over from the Team to my solo base to sort me out with whatever I needed and to give the emotional boost that means so much!

If anyone is in any doubt about how appreciated they are please don't be. I cant find the words to express how important you all are and I know I will have missed people out. That's not deliberate nor out of ignorance but just because my head is still spinning from the overwhelming kindness everyone showed towards me.

It is odd that we are called solo's as the team behind this solo makes us a very large team! I said to Johnny that whatever 'it' is that he and Laura do, whether by design or accident, however big this event gets, can they please keep doing 'it' because if they can keep hold of the atmosphere or the Soul of this event (as Lozza blogged it) it will remain the special event it has become.

A brief mention for some absentees. Chris Bennett who helped me so much last year was taking on the Brutal Ironman in Snowdon and by all accounts he smashed it. Particularly on my mind throughout and a great help in shutting up the legs was Doddi and JP tackling the Triple Brutal Ironman. 60 odd hours of intense brutality. When it began to sting at Equinox I only had to think of what they were up too!

All this nonsense in a Morphsuit is for Birmingham Children's Hospital and their treatment and research into child brain tumours. The most common form of childhood cancer. Without BCH Poppy wouldn't have been there this weekend to do a lap of her own. The true focus should be on the cause, the kids, the fundraising, the awareness. Don't look to me as a hero or legend or whatever other wonderful superlative you laid at my door. I am just an idiot seeking redemption. a menagerie of mistakes trying to atone. The true Heroes are the kids looking up and the adults holding up. True Heroes are all of you that have helped make a difference! 

I have asked a lot of family and friends of late and put immense pressure on Mich and the kids. Despite this and in amongst the turmoil of life Mich remains my one true constant, the true strength behind the idiot in the Morphsuit!

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Pre Event Morph plea

Morph on the course

The morning after