Friday, 20 July 2018

Day 43

This blog starts as I was sleeping in Chudniv on Wednesday night. There was a lot of work going on outside by local people to try and fix Chappie's break. It had snapped off on Sunday night as I dragged Chappie into a bus stop.

I'm pleased to report that Chappie's break has not only been fixed but it works better than it ever has. When it's applied, there is no budging Chappie. Thank you to those kind people who worked in the dark in Chudniv to fix Chappie.

I didn't sleep very well overnight unfortunately. That's not unusual at all for this tour. I'm used to being in "listening mode" where I sleep very lightly in Chappie while listening out for passers by, stray dogs and other creatures.

I had a quick coffee and I was on my way from Andrew and Svitlana's house shortly after 0700. Thank you to them for the use of their settee for the night. It was a very foggy start to the day but I suspected that the sun would soon burn that away.

The aim was to reach Zhytomyr by 1900 where I would be staying with a family in the city. The prospect of my first rest day after 11 consecutive days of running 272 miles up and down many hills filled me with a lot of excitement but mainly determination. It seemed like months since I left Kalush. It was only last Monday but so much had happened since then. One thing's for sure, the media coverage in Kalush and then four days later in Turnopil has been hugely beneficial. I've met may people along my route who were fully aware of where I was running from, to and the reason why.  

As I passed the man below with his horse and cart near Dubyshche I thought to myself "How bad must your hemorrhoids be mate?".

I was stopped by two lads further down the road for a photo and they also made a kind donation to St Benedict's Hospice. In time honoured tradition, I paid the equivalent amount in Sterling to my Virgin Money Giving page straight away.

I stopped for an omelette, coffee and what I think was a chicken sandwich at a place called Chumats'kyy Tabir. It was a nice place with plenty of different kinds of food and vodka on offer.

The fog lifted and the sun shone brightly. I had a lot of shade during the first 10 miles of the day with very tall trees to my left and right. I noticed a lot of people foraging in the forest and also selling berries, mushrooms and other stuff at the side of the road. 

At the 13 mile point in Vysoka Pich there were a lot of people at the road side with products for sale. I saw similar road sellers almost all of the way to Zhytomyr. 

A car pulled alongside me at the 14 mile point and the ladies inside asked if I needed any help. While I was grateful for the concern they showed, they had stopped dead on a main road with cars and lorries backing up behind. I quickly said that I didn't need help and thanked them. The traffic got moving again as I set off on my way.

I stopped at a gas station on the outskirts of Korchak for a variety of bottled drinks. The taste of my warm mineral water hadn't been very refreshing at all. 

As I left the gas station I heard a very loud crash. I was immediately filled with dread. When I looked up I could see a bus 100 metres away that was freewheeling to a stop. As I got closer, I could see the side wall of the bus had been completely smashed away. Some of the passengers on the bus started dragging still bodies to the grass verge. The passengers sitting closest to the now missing side wall were covered in blood. A few local people started to help retrieve people from the bus. The driver of the lorry that had collided with the bus ran to see what damage had been caused. He limped as he ran and his arm looked injured. It was a scene of absolute carnage. I ran past while trying my best to focus on the horizon ahead.

I spent a few minutes gesturing to the oncoming speeding traffic to slow down. In a state of shock, I immediately rang Donna to tell her what I'd seen. I just needed to have a normal conversation to bring me back to reality and get my head back in the game. Obviously, my shock was nothing compared to the plight of those poor bus passengers. They were in my thoughts for the rest of the day. 

I don't want to appear to trivialise the accident but I must continue reporting the rest of my day.

I spent the remainder of the day running parallel to the Teteriv River. It was a long rolling road with a few testing climbs.        

Just before I reached the outskirts to Zhytomyr, I heard a car reversing at speed then a crash into the high roadside kerb. I turned around to see a driver getting out on the opposite side of the road to me. He was offering me the bottle of water he had in his hand. The traffic was busy in both directions so I politely gestured to decline his offer. He seemed ok about it and got back in his, now damaged, car.

There were still five or so miles to my end point when I saw the sign below. 

I reached the built up area of Zhytomyr and my heart sank when I saw a steep climb with 1.5 miles still to run. Half way up the climb a cyclist called Yuri (below right) grabbed a section of Chappie and started to help me up the hill. At the top of the hill, I laughed when another cyclist called Yuri (below left) asked if he could help. "You're a bit late mate" I said. Both men spoke decent English and they kindly escorted me to the family home after 32.5 miles and 12 hours of running. 

Waiting to greet me with the family that I would be staying with was my contact in Zhytomyr, Svitlana and her daughter. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by lots of kind people. I was so relieved to have made it through a very tough and demanding day. 

Day 42 had been the quickest day and this day had been the longest day in terms of mileage. After the many changes to my route since I left Kalush 11 days ago, I have ran an extra 24 miles during that time! That is a significant amount. I'm pleased that the remaining route to Kyiv is fairly straight.

There are now only 86 miles (138 km) to the finish of stage five of the run around the world. I'm aiming to reach Independence Square in Kyiv by 1200 on Tuesday 24th July. 

At the time of writing this blog, I'm not sure how I will approach the final few days. I'm filming with Ukraine TV on Sunday so that will affect things. My initial thoughts are to run 28 miles on Saturday and Sunday, 26 miles on Monday and do the final 4 miles on Tuesday.

In the meantime, if you've enjoyed following the journey via the Run Geordie Run Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or this blog then please consider making a donation to St Benedict's Hospice.

If you don't know what a hospice is then please watch this short video.

A donation can be made via my Virgin Money Giving page meaning that your money goes straight to the hospice. Please click here to make a donation.