Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Day 41

I had a very good sleep in the air conditioned hotel room in Starokostyantyniv. As with dinner the night before, breakfast was brought to my room. Much to my relief so were eight days of my laundry. The staff at the Sluch hotel had done a brilliant job. 

Breakfast consisted of eggs, sausage (with a tasty mustard like filling), toast, cheese and coffee. Smachno. 

I packed up my things, loaded up Chappie and the days running got underway just before 1000. I felt very sluggish and the prospect of running for a ninth consecutive day was difficult to contemplate. 

I reached the outskirts of town only to be pulled over by the police. I told the English speaking male officer about my journey and we took photos. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about police in Ukraine (and prior to this in Romania) they love a selfie. 

I received a message from Yuri and Victoria, who I met on Saturday. It said that Yuri would be passing and as well as food and water he would deliver a slice of cheesecake that Victoria had made. 

With the prospect of a food delivery later in the day I all of a sudden began to run much quicker. There were many climbs to run up and I did my best on each of them. 

There was an unannounced downpour at the 14 mile point. It just came out of nowhere. I had my waterproof and poncho on within 20 seconds. They were off again after five minutes as the baking hot sunshine returned. 

Yuri turned up at the 18 mile point with bread, water, cheese, tuna and the slice of cheesecake. I had my first break of the day and we talked for a while. 

I could tell by talking to Yuri and also from the messages I’ve received from both him and Victoria that there is a real concern for my wellbeing. It is a huge comfort to me, knowing that so many people are following the journey and are willing to help. 

Yuri left in his car and all of a sudden I felt very alone. 

As I sat eating bread, I had an awkward conversation with an old lady. I don’t think she could understand that I was a foreigner. She seemed to leave satisfied that we’d had a worthwhile conversation.

It took me another mile to reach the “top road”. This was the road that I could have joined early on Sunday. This was the popular choice of road amongst the people back in Lanivsti. Had I taken that road then I wouldn’t have had a shower and bed last night. The popular route is five miles shorter but that was a sacrifice I was willing to take for some cleanliness. 

The top road was a lot quieter than I thought it would be. I call it the top road as the more southerly road that I’d been on since Sunday morning ran parallel with it. 

The road was long and straight and I could see quite far ahead. I began to wonder with all of the trees to my left and right, whether I’d be able to find a suitable place to setup camp. 

I entered the Zhytomyr Oblast at the 25 mile point for the day. I assumed that the sign below was telling me that. 

As the sun began to dip towards the horizon behind me I continued to look for a suitable place to setup camp. This is always the most difficult part of the day. It’s a task that I often dread.

At the 25.9 mile point a wide entrance to a farmers field appeared to my left. I was 2 miles short of my target for the day but decided to setup camp there. 

There were a lot of small flies hovering around but they didn’t bother me too much. I tried my best to anchor Chappie to the ground. I forgot to mention that two days ago the brake snapped off the bar. This means that securing Chappie is now a lot more difficult. Running downhill is also a challenge without a brake. 

There are now just 60 miles left to the next rest day in Zhytomyr.

Tomorrow is my tenth consecutive day of running. I need at least 30 miles and then the remainder will be done on Thursday. I’m so looking forward to a rest day and also speaking to some people in Zhytomyr at an English speaking group. 

I start the final push (or pull) to Kyiv on Saturday morning. It’s 88 miles to the finish line in Independence Square from Zhytomyr which will see my required average daily mileage reduced to 22. I’ll be ignoring that figure in an attempt to reach the end by 1200 on Tuesday.