Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Days 47 & 48

Day 47

Mark started running at 6am from Port Augusta.  The target was 40 miles for the day in order to try and keep any deficit to an absolute minimum for a Christmas Eve finish at Bondi.

Today was also the first day of trying the new fly repellant. Port Augusta presented a huge amount of flies, the cream seemed to be fending them off well! Result! The temperature, as always, was forecast to be relentless.  By 10:15 it had already reached 32.5 Celsius, and it wasn't going to stop there.

Mark had managed 22 miles by midday and was running well.  The traffic was heavy meaning that Mark needed to be on his guard.  An earlier start meant an earlier breakfast yet Mark did not stop for lunch until 14:30.  I met him every 4 miles leading up to this point for a quick water exchange.

At 29 miles Mark finally stopped for lunch, fortunately I was able to find a spot to allow shade for the RV and a comfortable tactical snooze for Mark.  As Mark started running for the second part of the day storms started to brew to the right of the RV.  The large rumbling in the distance wasn't an oncoming road truck as initially thought but a fierce thunderstorm which was heading Mark's way.  After an hour the storm finally caught up with Mark, luckily we had planned this to precision meaning that he was quickly in the safety of the RV.

I caught this picture just as the storm started:

Mark had been running really well and was disappointed to have stopped at 32.4 miles.  We were completely engulfed in the storm which then lasted approximately 50 minutes.  Mark got back out on the road and fortunately, due to the high temperatures, the rain dried up quickly minimising the spray from oncoming vehicles.  Mark still proceeded with caution and donned the high vis for extra safety.

I drove past Mark to the final meeting point for the day and could see that he had really picked up the pace.  He tweeted "38 miles done. Don't think Mo would have caught me over last 10k ;) Winding it down to 40 now."  The outcome of day 47 was 40.1 miles - a brilliant day.  

We found a small campsite in a place called Baroota.  It was more like a mini jungle! We were welcomed by Karen and Belinda, owners of the site, who also made a very kind donation when Mark explained what he was doing.  

For the second night Mark soaked his feet in the new substance and I applied an overnight dressing to them.  From the initial pictures that Mark posted a few weeks ago there seemed to be some good improvement. Fingers crossed!

Day 48

Aside from the jungle location and all sorts of noises throughout the night Mark slept really well, although, as always, he could have slept a little more!

We drove off the campsite to the start line for day 48.  The sun was starting to rise and a big day lay ahead.

As Mark started on his way I could tell that this was going to be a tough one. Although a great night sleep, he was still very tired.  As I passed him in the RV he didn't even look up and was almost hunched running.  Mark's twitter activity for the day was very quiet and the water exchanges were brief.  This was not going to be an easy day.  The temperature had already hit 15.5 Celsius at 05:30 and was planed to reach at least 30 for the majority of the day.

At 08:55 Mark stopped running for some food and to rest.  By this point the temperature had reached 21.5 Celsius and was really draining him.  He utilised this stop for a quick tactical snooze although it appeared to be of little help as Mark was still showing clear signs of exhaustion when he woke up. 

Still very quiet I checked that Mark was ok.  For the next 20 minutes or so he was inconsolable.  Mark was suddenly overwhelmed by the grief that faces on a daily basis.  This is something that we have been able to talk about in the past, but not today.  As a member of the support team I have to be strong.  As Mark's partner I need to be even stronger.  This was extremely difficult and awful to watch.  No amount of words can replace those who have been lost.  A day for reflection, the motivation behind these runs and a realisation of irreplaceable figures in Mark's life.

Conscious of the miles slipping away, I urged Mark to get back out on the road.  The next meeting points would be a water exchange only and Mark would chip away and bringing down the mileage so to arrive at Bondi Beach on time.

Once back out on the road Mark made reference to a blog post from the run across the USA (http://markallisonjogtole.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/day-44-photo-of-day.html?m=1) and tweeted the following:

As they had on the mountain previously, the tears fell once more. The search was over. My work was done. They would never return.
I thought I could bring them back. All of them. If I searched all corners of this earth I was sure to find them.
They weren't there. They aren't here. They aren't anywhere. Once they went, they were gone for good.
The anger, the pain, the tiredness, the sorrow. It's too much. The consequence of love is this. The search ends at these fields of gold.
No more.
The warrior fell to his knees, exhausted and desperate. Only a tiny flicker of light remained in his heart.
The winds from the South threatened to extinguish the flame. Head bowed, the warrior was ready to accept his fate.
Suddenly, a stranger appeared carrying a parcel wrapped in cloth. She was beautiful. The warrior had seen her in his dreams on the plains.
The stranger whispered softly to the warrior. "Your search is over. You have found the beast that has haunted your nightmares."
The warrior took the parcel and slowly unwrapped it using what little strength he could muster. The object inside shone brightly.
"Use this sword and spare no mercy for the beast. Show valour in your fight, show it no fear and bring an end to this nightmare".
"Do not call for aid. None will come. This is your battle and yours alone. Finish the beast. Kill it. Slay it. Bring this to an end now".
Sword in clenched fist, the warrior rose to his feet. He stood tall and proud. He bid the stranger farewell and was ready to fight.
The warrior stepped into the crowded arena. They cried for blood. He wasn't going to disappoint them or the stranger.
The beast towered over the warrior. With an almighty battle cry he raised his sword and charged. To the death.........

At 29.5 miles day 48 was over.  We checked into a campsite in Crystal Brook and prepared to wind Mark down for the evening.  The luxury of a real shower  beckoned and Mark's feet were once again soaked in the solution.  The wounds look like they are really starting to dry out and the pain has been reducing each day which is most certainly the positive of day 48!

These were Mark's final tweets for day 48:

"Only 29.5 miles done today. One of the most difficult days so far. I could have easily stopped at 8 miles this morning."

"Yesterday's brilliant day followed by a good feed and sleep proves that you just don't know what the next day will bring."

"I've ran 1574 miles in 48 days. I've got 22 days left to run 894 miles. That's a daily required average of 40.6 miles."

"It looks like the run across Australia is going to end up like the run across the USA. Big, big miles over the final 3 weeks."

"Success is far from guaranteed. More days like yesterday and less like today are needed. I rate my chances at 30% at present."

"I need more money for the charities too. This is the ultimate motivation for me. Any money pledged is massively appreciated."

I"f you can please donate to @sbrfoundation @tcfcharity then please do so here. uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rungeordierun Thanks in advance."