Monday, 9 December 2013

Days 53 - 54

Day 53

Day 52 saw a record mileage day - 46.1 miles.  Although a fantastic achievement, 13 hours of running was certain to take its toll.  A late finish required a quick turnaround in order to get as much rest as possible ready for the start of the new day.  At the end of every day an essential part of Mark's recovery is to drink Cherry Active.  Mark's comments about this product are as follows:

"There isn't an ache in my body today. @cherryactive never ceases to amaze me. I should be in bits after yesterday's efforts."

"@cherryactive was originally recommended to me by the University of Northumbria in early 2011. These runs would be tougher without it."

Day 53, was a later start.  The late finish and longer distance from the previous day had naturally left Mark feeling tired.  At 07:20 he started running:

"A good haul of miles will almost guarantee that I leave #SouthAustralia tomorrow (Sunday). 43 is the target today."

"Nice chat with a local man out for a morning stroll. The people have made this journey memorable right from day 1."

At 09:06 Mark tweeted: "66 miles to the #victoria border. 137 miles to the #newsouthwales border."  This meant that Mark had covered a distance of 1700 miles in just 52.1 days. This now left 768 miles   before reaching Bondi Beach, Sydney.  

"Progress after 1710 miles of running. Day 53 of #rgrdownunder with Benfield."

"The remaining 758 miles."

The temperature was quick to increase throughout the course of the morning and was around 30 Celsius just before noon. This was set to rise and peak at 6pm. 

"It's tough going in this heat. Now aiming for at least 38 miles and survival. Anything above that is a bonus."

"Despite the heat I'm feeling strong today. Just got to get mileage in high 30s and regroup tomorrow."

"50 minutes left until the heat of the day peaks. Crikey, it's hot. Roll on 6pm."

"#glendevlin #vineyard #southaustralia"

"A battle in the #southaustralia sunshine."

Over the course of the last 2 weeks we have made excellent progress with Mark's feet.  There are no signs of infection and the original damaged skin has dried out and been replaced with fresh skin.  That said, the constant time that Mark is on his feet and the mileage covered will always prevent his feet from healing 100%.  Later in the day Mark complained that his right foot was becoming an issue: 

"Right foot is on fire. Not literally though."

"I can feel this day slipping away from me. Starting to get very hungry. At least the temperature is dropping. 30 miles done so far."

At 18:30 Mark made the call to end the day:  "Stopping at 30.25 miles for the day. Going to get my right foot looked at, some food and an early night."

"Feel very good at the moment. As happy as I can be with the way things are going. This is one heck of a slog in the #aussie summer."

After the mileage of day 53, this then left 742 miles to Bondi. Mark's ultimate aim was to ensure that this figure must be less than 700 by the end of Sunday.

We were fortunate to find a good location for the overnight stop, a camping area right next to a pub.  As we arrived a Christmas party was getting into full swing, the theme, a beach party.  Nothing unusual about that right?  As always, Mark was pleased to see a menu which presented steak.  He ordered the 800g option.  Very happy.

After dinner we took the time to assess Mark's feet and try to identify what was causing the pain on his right foot.  It wasn't good.  A new, and huge, blister had appeared between the big and 2nd toe.  As much as we treat the feet, there is no getting away from new blisters appearing.  The only thing that we can do is continue to treat them and prevent any infection.

"I'll be gritting my teeth while full of painkillers tomorrow. Left foot is healed now it's the right ones turn to cause me pain."

Day 54

Day 54 started with the discovery of some very unwelcome overnight visitors.  Unfortunately the overnight spot was close to the river.  This can only mean one thing - mozzies.  They certainly had a feast on the two of us so the early part of the morning was ensuring that they were all suitably squashed!

"Right foot very sore this morning. @Donna__Houghton is going to do her best to patch it up. 45 miles today is a must."

It was a very warm start to the morning and the temperature had already hit 22 Celsius by 05:30.  This was a sure sign of the high temperatures to follow.  Fortunately there was a good cloud cover and a slight breeze which helped keep the heat at bay, for a short while at least.

"Temperature forecast for mid 30s. Going to be a battle again. I'm up for it today."

The tactics over the last few days have been to load Mark up with his waist band and Camel Bak.  This ensures that he is able to carry up to 7 litres of fluids for maximum hydration.  Mark is also packed off with sufficient energy supplies so that he can maintain his energy levels on the periods where the meeting point is further away.

09:15: "Quick water top up of my #camelbak at the 11 mile point. I'm next seeng the RV at the 30 mile point."

11:05: "Just had an impromptu Iced Coffee and energy gel in the RV. I'm feeling tired. 16 miles ran."

11:53 "It's a little too early in the day for an attack but #ifeeltheneed #theneedforspeed powered by #farmersunion #icedcoffee"

I arrived in the next town, Renmark, some hours ahead of Mark.  I used this opportunity to stock up on essential supplies (and to wander round in shops with air conditioning!).  It's fair to say that there was a notable increase in both the temperature and humidity.  It was stifling hot and there was no escaping it on Mark's part.

"A warm blanket of hot air brings an end to my attack. Slowing down now. It's roasting hot here in #renmark"

"Crikey! This heat and humidity is insane. If there isn't a storm later is be surprised. #renmark"

By the time Mark reached the RV he had reached 26 miles.  He took this opportunity to soak his feet in some 'cooler' water and took time to reflect: "16 miles left until the #victoria border. It will have taken me 27 days to cross #SouthAustralia. #nullarbor #eyrepeninsula #goyderhighway".

Even with all of the windows open in the RV there was no escaping the heat, "Eating hot porridge in a baking hot RV is quite a challenge".  After an hour 'lunch break' Mark was ready for the final session of the day with 19 miles left.

The highway leading to the next town was particularly busy with tight bends.  This posed as a huge risk to Mark so he opted for a 'short-cut'…

"Hmm? Which way? I'm taking the right fork."

"Another decision. I'll go left this time. #sendasearchparty"

"Current location. #renmark #riverlands #rgrdownunder"

"I think I'm in trouble. #lost in #riverlands"

By 18:30, and after Mark's little 'off-road adventure', he had 8 miles left until the Victoria / South Australia border. This was the final aim of the day although he was really starting to suffer at this point, even potentially hallucinating...

"I think I'm seeing things. If I'm not mistaken there's a geet big #Dunlop tyre ahead."

"I've seen a monkey in dungarees twice in the last 54 days in #Australia so I could be mistaken. #seeingthings"

"I wasn't #seeingthings after all. #dunloptyre"

Mark's final tweets to end day 54:

"37.2 miles done and my right foot won't take any more pain. 706 miles to #bondi."

"I tried so hard today to get the amount of remaining miles down to less than 700. It's been a sweltering day so it's hard to complain."

"It's just after 8 at night and it's still 35 Celsius. There is no breeze and the RV is like an oven. We have a mosquito invasion going on."

"The battle here in Australia isn't just out there on the road. It's everywhere. It never ends."

"All of these factors are why I chose to run across this incredible country in the summer."

"The challenge, so far, has certainly lived up to, and in many ways, exceeded my expectations."

"Lights out. Only 16 days of this living nightmare left. On the plus side I just killed what I think is the last mozzie."

"Finally, please donate to my chosen charities if you can. The fund is very close to 28 thousand pounds."