After another overnight stop at Loves Truck Stop running started at 06:41 on day 15 of the run across the USA. It was a very tricky start to the day as I had to find someway to cross the Interstate at the end of North Las Vegas Boulevard after mile 4. I managed to find and use a small tunnel that went right underneath the Interstate road. I was relieved to find a dirt path on the other side. I used it to meet up with the RV briefly at the 7.5 mile point where I found that my dirty kit was being washed by Kirsty and Jon.
Kirsty recently had the following to say about her early time on the support team: "My first day as Official Sports Therapist saw me washing Mark’s kit....don’t remember seeing that in the old job description! That was what it was all about though. Whatever had to be done to allow the run go as smoothly as possible for Mark became one of the tasks we did.
While Mark was not on the RV there were sometimes some ‘team discussions’ we’ll say. Some members of the team didn’t think that tasks which had to be carried out were what they had signed up for. In my opinion whatever your ‘job’ was, we had to work together, so all Mark had to worry about was getting the miles done. We always tried to ensure we were all back on talking terms by the time Mark returned, we didn’t want him to focus on any of our issues. This unfortunately, didn’t work out.".
I got the impression that there were issues on the support team early on. I suspected that this would happen on the actual tour as Stephen had already rubbed up members of the support team via email weeks earlier. As soon as I saw that particular email I knew that having someone on the team with Stephen's mentality and attitude would be a huge risk to the run. Without any other options, I was left with no choice but to allow him to join the team.
I also got the impression that Jon had made a rule that while I was on the RV there were "no problems". For this kind of reason, I felt that Jon's presence was invaluable on the tour. He knew exactly what was required for me to get the miles in and this gave me confidence that whatever went on while I was away from the RV he along with Kirsty would sort it out.
These are Jon's thoughts on the early days on the support team: "When we rendezvoused in Vegas and then chatted at Macdonalds and the airport waiting for Stephen I think that was the first time I appreciated just how many balls you were juggling. Not just running, blisters, fatigue etc, but coping with three almost total strangers in the RV. Then that first morning was about the trickiest bit of navigating I had to do, including being stopped by the cops and seeing a bad guy being taken off in cuffs.".
The plan for the next 2 weeks was for Jon to drive the RV, Kirsty to provide massage support for 4 weeks and Stephen to do some of the cooking. As it turned out, Stephen didn't feel confident driving the RV, despite what he said during the application process.
Back to the running and it was at this point that I joined Interstate 15. Running on the interstate road required constant concentration. I always worked under the assumption that each passing vehicle would hit me and was ready to step off the hard shoulder should the need arise. This was put to the test early on as a passing HGV veered onto the hard shoulder. I quickly made my way onto the gravel section at the side of the road.
With the wind on my back and a favourable temperature good progress was made during the first session of the day. I took the first break after 16.4 miles of running where I met the RV at an intersection. Stephen (pictured below) had cooked some pasta and Jon and Kirsty had managed to hang my kit out to dry on various parts of the RV.
Support was quite difficult while I was running on the Interstate. For safety reasons I was only able to see the support team at intersections. I had to ensure that I carried enough water in between stops. The next meeting point was 7 miles later in Glendale. It gave me a chance to briefly leave the interstate and use a nearby minor road. However, when I was chased by a dog I had to clamber up a steep slope containing sharp stones. I cut my hand on one of the stones while the owner of the dog simply looked on.
By the time I reached the next meeting point, 9 miles later I'd learned that the charity fund had finally broken the £32,000 barrier, standing at £32,133.87. This was brilliant news and really helped my morale on a day where I'd spent a lot of time running on Interstate road.
I ran the final 2 miles with Kirsty before finishing for the day having ran 34.5 miles. I was so pleased with that haul of miles. I was even more pleased to have done it by 1930. I'd started and finished 2000 ft above sea level with 1400 ft of climbing in between. 34.5 miles done. It was easily the best running I'd done so far. The favourable temperature, the wind and the fact that I was fully focused on the Interstate road had contributed to my good day.
Our RV parking place for the night was in a Wal Mart car park in Mesquite. The team left me in the RV with my feet in ice water. They went to get some shopping from Wal Mart. I had to have harsh words and lay down the rules. None of the usual necessary jobs around the run had been done. I hadn't been fed for one! My GPS watch hadn't been put on to charge. I hadn't been left with a towel to dry my feet either so, given my lack of mobility and bad blisters, I was stranded until they got back.
I had a massage from Kirsty for the first time. I remember wondering how someone so small could generate so much power to give my legs such a good massage.
I had a very poor night's sleep that night. Stephen thought that it was a good idea to visit Wal Mart a further 3 times during the night. This meant a lot of noise and disturbance in the RV. Bad times!