Sleeping in the car for a second night was never going to be easy. Sleeping in the car with shooting pains in his feet was going to be even more difficult for Mark. The slightest flinch was difficult in a confined space and he was clearly in agony. Another dose of strong painkillers seemed to help ease this a little and meant that Mark woke with very little pain. As I reported on day 79, there are no surface wounds on Mark's feet. The issues are deep internal pockets of fluid and numbness, something that only rest will help to cure.
Without the RV we have no cooking facilities either. We have basic snacks (very unhealthy ones at that) and only cold water to make the porridge. There are no other options until we leave the highway and head towards bigger towns nearer to the finish line.
Aside from the pain in his feet, Mark started the day feeling very positive. Finding a sneaky sachet of Cherry Active had helped to relieve some of the aches experienced on the previous day. The meeting points were now planned to be further apart at 10 miles (or wherever I could safely park) which would push Mark that little more to make it to the car. As ever, the messages of support continued. Many were concerned about sleeping in the car overnight rather than being checked into a hotel/motel. This isn't something that we have avoided, trust me if there was a more comfortable option then we would be jumping right in. The only thing not supporting us was the logistics. As mentioned earlier, until we head closer towards bigger towns then there are no other options. One of Mark's sponsors, Chapman Ventilation (you might recognise the name from the daily weather updates) kindly offered to pay for us to stay overnight in a hotel wherever possible. Initially Mark declined, any potential monies must always go directly to the two charities. They then clarified that they would equal match the cost of the hotel meaning that The Children's Foundation and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation would still receive a donation. An incredibly generous offer. A good nights sleep makes such a huge difference to Mark's running day, and at this stage of the run we really need him on top form to reach the finish line in Shellharbour. If we could find a hotel for the evening then we would very gratefully accept the offer.
The Hume Highway was much quieter at the start of day 80, potentially less people heading out of Sydney post New Year's Eve. A great start to the day, it was cooler and cloudy meaning that the conditions were favourable, a good running surface on the hard shoulder was also a great help too:
“The road surface on the #humehighway is nice and flat concrete. It's like running on carpet. Pure luxury.”
"#humehighway getting busier. Will update later. Please tune in to @garyandlisareal on Friday morning UK time for full update."
"83 miles to the finish line. Running very strong this morning. Attacking all the climbs. #ifeeltheneed #theneedforspeed"
In the meantime I had managed to find a rest area around the 10 mile meeting point. I drove ahead knowing that Mark would be a few hours until he reached me. I used this time to work my way through a full inbox of media queries and requests for interviews with Mark. Two hours later I was just finishing a call with the BBC and Mark emailed to say that he had already passed. 10 miles before 9am and he was still going strong, incredible!
At midday Mark reached the services at a town called Goulburn. Here they had a beautiful bakery with some amazing (and naughty) food on offer. Naturally Mark chose the pie option, but to be fair there wasn't a huge selection that would help to quickly replenish the calorie deficit – needs must on this one I'm afraid!
“20 miles done. Time for a pie in #goulburn. That was one of the quickest morning sessions of the entire tour.”
Shortly after the lunch break Mark complained of feeling sick and dizzy. He was adamant that he was going to get back out on the road. I was very firm on this one and wouldn't let him back out of the car until he drank some ice cold water (hurrah for services) and had a little more time to rest. The lunch break ended up almost 2 hours, time that Mark can't afford to lose but rather that than lose concentration or consciousness. This extra time also allowed me to do a quick search on the internet to see if there would be any accommodation close to the finish point for the day. I'm pleased to confirm that there was. This would mean a comfortable bed and shower allowing Mark to relax a little and rest for more big miles ahead on day 81.
Although the day started cool, the temperature had really started to creep up by midday. It was worryingly starting to feel more like the temperatures that we experienced during the heatwave. The car was reading 39 Celsius – we hoped that it didn't get any higher.
Stopping at the services in Goulburn meant that Mark was able to take a break from running on the highway and found a route to run through the town. This presented a lot less traffic, if only for a few miles. I drove ahead to find a suitable meeting point after rejoining the highway only to find more problems. The traffic had started to increase and the highway had split into a higher and lower road. As Mark was running on the opposite carriage way to me this formed an instant barrier between us. As chance would have it a trusty truck stop appeared meaning that I could safely pull over and wait patiently for Mark to arrive.
Later in the afternoon Mark spoke once again with Gary and Lisa on the Real Radio breakfast show. If you have missed any of the interviews then you can listen again here. Gary and Lisa (and their loyal listeners) have been incredibly supportive throughout and the, now daily, calls and really do help to keep Mark's spirits high. Mark was also able to speak to ITV which, for those of you in NE England, you may have seen at some point during the evening.
Mark finished the day on 34 miles. A good strong day of running and most certainly time for a proper sleep in a bed. This would be vital to the big miles of day 81. Huge thanks again to Chapman Ventilation, we were treated to a bed AND a shower – luxury!
After a quick bite to eat and treatment to Mark's feet we hit the hay ready to start a new day. 61 miles to the finish line – so very very close!
“34 miles done. 61 to the finish line. Tomorrow has got to be a massive day.”
“My right foot is in all kinds of pain. More treatment required. Oh and painkillers too!”
“Realistic outcome is now 45 miles tomorrow and 16 early on Sunday morning.”
“Or I could always repeat the last day in the USA and do 61 miles. Hmm…”