Man vs Lakes 2019

2 days to go…

and the support tape is packed. Pascal is trained in how to apply it and has grudgingly shaved around his ankle to make sure it sticks. Apparently, this is all the preparation an elite athlete needs. That and a massive spag bol. *snigger*

Since Man vs Coast in Cornwall, Pascal’s been following his physio’s advice not to run. He’s also been doing proprioception training by standing on one leg whilst catching a tennis ball, sometimes whilst at work to entertain his colleagues. He’s also discovered that his injuries from the last race are probably due to too much movement in his right foot caused by a missing ligament. Seriously. His ankle has even been twisting when he walks. So Pascal is finally preparing himself to start a race that he recognises he may not finish. That’s a first for him as his usual approach is very Magnus Magnussen (“I’ve started so I’ll finish.”). Reality bites and it bites very hard.

The night before

What can I say? It’s wet and the guys are doing the usual elite athlete carb-loading. This time, it looks like beer, pizza and roast dinner. Yum.

Pascal remembered to tape up his ankle. But forgot his knee. Hopefully he’ll remember it before he sets off. And his tracker. Hopefully he’ll remember that too. Last year was a little bit worrying, not being entirely sure where he was throughout the race because he had carelessly carefully deployed it to track the position of his tent.

He is feeling very nervous (“like a nun at a penguin shoot”) about his ability to finish. Having followed doctors orders for 2 weeks and not run at all, his first section is a 10km(ish) stretch across Morecambe Bay where he cannot slow or deviate at any point for fear of drowning. This is not an exaggeration. After that, he can walk, hop, slide on his bum, whatever … but he has to clear that first hour without stopping. Now I’m feeling nervous too.

The weather conditions aren’t helping his frame of mind. It took them a while to put tents up this evening because they were waiting for a break in the rain that never came. In the end they put them up when the heavy rain eased to light rain. It’s so wet that Sim’s car sprang a leak around the windscreen and the rain was coming inside!!

Pascal found a Lego machete in our tent (a special property of Lego – it lurks in the most surprising places) and has packed it as his good luck charm. Maybe RatRace will have a tiny Lego jungle as one of the obstacles. If so, Pascal will be ready.

The race is due to start at 8 but could change due to the tides. Live tracking is available as usual:

Track Pascal here

At the start

Pascal and Sim are at the start and feeling a little sleep-deprived from a night of hammering rain on their flapping tents.

They’re still smiling. Pascal taped his knee but it all fell off as he got to the start. He obviously had complete faith in his ninja-taping skills as he didn’t bring any more tape with him. Luckily Sim had tape and has rescued him again (what are friends for?).

Yep – that’s definitely a knee. Maybe a Smurf’s knee?

Morecambe Bay is looking as spectacular as ever and provides solid evidence to Flat Earthers everywhere. Pascal is musing this morning at how fast the tide must sweep in, given that he can’t see water at all and must be able to see for several miles.

The race is due to start any minute and this route is what they’ll be doing:

It looks very impressive.

A friend from our village is currently attempting his first Bob Graham round – 42 of the highest peaks in the Lake District over 66 miles in less than 24 hours. He’s tough and he’s over half way having started at 6pm yesterday. He’s got lots of support including another friend who’s gone as his supporter for a leg and I think she may be running with him around about now. So there are lots of village people doing crazy things today, though probably not wearing hard hats at the same time. And certainly no running with screwdrivers!

3 hours in

Pascal made it across the northern quick sands and even managed to leave the first pit stop. Given that his knee tape fell off (again) and his ankle is hurting already, it must have been seriously tempting to justify bailing.

He said that it rained solidly all the way across the sands. When they were in the middle, he could see people running through the water as if they were in the middle of the ocean “apart from the fact that I’m not Jesus”. This reassures me that he genuinely has some self-awareness after all. Given the extent of his injuries and his stubborn determination to both run and be Magnus, I was starting to wonder if he was planning on performing his own set of miracles. Apparently not. Phew.

He’s trying to give me lots of updates by dictating to his watch. A few things might get lost in translation but it is pretty funny. I’m playing a game called “where does the punctuation go?” as five sentences merge into one and the watch corrects words it doesn’t recognise.

The latest update is that he has even made it up the vertical kilometre (or “verrücke k” according to his watch). I’m sure RatRace encourage runners to take a breath at the top and admire the view. From Pascal’s photo, it looks as though the view is mostly of exhausted soggy runners!

Sim is waaay ahead of him now but that was the plan they agreed this morning. When 7 of the “village people” took this on last year, only 3 finished. Pascal finished but Sim didn’t. This year could be a reversal and Pascal wants to give Sim every chance to make it happen.

5 hours in

Pascal rang at 12:44 to say he had just scraped though the cut off time at the halfway point. He is desperate to get to Upper Tarn at the very least as it’s the only cutoff time where you shorten the route slightly, rather than being taken off in a vehicle further up the route.

He says his knee is wrecked but he’s carrying on anyway.

A bit later he rang to say that he’s reached what he thinks of as “Martin’s church” because last year this was where Martin changed his socks. They say that memory can be linked to distinctive smells so Martin’s socks must have made a very strong impression. Martin? Does this incredibly vague map ring any church bells?

Sim is steaming ahead and fast approaching the Lake “obstacle”. I don’t think he’ll be dry after what looks like a couple of swims.

Pascal took my walking pole to help with the downhills. I don’t know if it helped but apparently he now needs to buy me a new one and has strapped it together to support him for a bit longer. Good grief.

6 hours in

Pascal is “dead last”. He’s seen a marshall who’s told him to get to the next rest stop for instructions on where to go but there’s no way he’s doing the whole distance now.

He’s absolutely gutted and feeling very disappointed with himself. I’ve pointed out that most people with his level of injuries wouldn’t even have started and he’s still clocked a good 35km (or more) which is a hell of an achievement.

He’s bailed on one race (The Wall) and now he’s being swept on this one and he considers that a bad result.

7 hours in

Confused? Me? Yep. Pascal? Very!

Sim has “blown” his calf and both of them are walking together but have snuck through the cutoffs without being swept.

They’re also no longer last.

8 hours in and 1 hour to the race cut off

The clock is ticking and I’m having flashbacks to last year. The similarities being that Pascal is yet again cutting it very fine to get to the finish by the cutoff and is in pain. The big differences being that he remembered his tracker so I know where he is and they started 4 hours earlier so it’s not getting dark yet.

Other than that, I’m watching his little yellow dot jump closer and closer to the finish. I’m not sure how far he has to go as he has no idea how far he’s been. I think he and Sim are still together but haven’t had any updates for 2 hours so can’t be sure.

If one thing is certain, it’s that Pascal’s physio (as recommended by Sim!) will be getting even more business between now and Man vs. Mountain. What’s that you say? Isn’t this the end? Apparently not. There is one more of these crazy events still to come. This time they only have to run up Mount Snowdon and back down again to sea level. What?! But they’ve got 7 weeks to recover and that’s going to make all the difference. They hope.

15 minutes to go

I like Liz. I don’t know Liz, but I like her. She’s 60 and she’s running with Pascal. I’m very glad he has company.

Sim’s “run off” so I guess his ankle must have un-blown (punctured?) and he’s on a mission to finish before the cutoff.

Three hours ago, Pascal thought he was dead last and being swept. He sent me this very sad photo.

Now, he’s starting to believe he might actually finish. I think he’s got about 5km left to go. Even with shot knees and a dodgy ankle I think he can manage that without calling the Air Ambulance. He’s just sent this photo of the old man of Coniston and is clearly feeling much more upbeat.

Here’s the lovely Liz and Pascal’s flappy smurf knee.

5 mins to go

You might remember that last year Pascal excitedly sent me a photo saying “I can see the finish!”. I zoomed in and still couldn’t see the finish but he’s sent a 2019 version of the photo.

It’s like Spot The Ball only you’re looking for a big inflatable archway. It looked like this last night.

And he was adamant that he wasn’t going to “stand and deliver” on this obstacle at the finish.

10 mins late

It looks as though Pascal wasn’t completely confused earlier. The Upper Tarn cut off meant you took a short cut and (legally) skipped a 5km section of the route to get you back in the race. I’m not sure if Pascal even realises that he’s done this, but this is what the tracker shows. Red his the route and blue is his path.

Looking at things now that could be just what he needed to get ten toes over the line.

20 minutes late

Sim has crossed the finish!! One down and one to go!

Please post your comments as he goes. He always looks forward to reading them at the end of the race and I’ll relay your comments during the race.

1 hour late

Pascal has finished! Whoop whoop!!

I rang him to see how elated he was feeling. He was mostly surprised that he’d made it and, whilst I was on the phone, I heard lots of other runners echoing that surprise! They said that when he was in the woods, he looked terrible and “as if” he could barely put one foot in front of the other. (Not an illusion.) Liz crossed the finish line with him – wow, I hope I’m that fit and healthy at 60!

Sim’s booking them in for a massage before they head off for a curry. Sim said it’s amazing how his calf pain disappeared with the elation of doing the pre-finish kayaking. What a fun distraction!

The only fly in the ointment is that neither of them feel particularly excited about walking a mile to the curry house, but they’ve managed to box the car in with their own tents!! Excellent foresight as ever.

So, now it’s 7 weeks to go and we’ll all be back for the next crazy stunt. See you in September.

2 Replies to “Man vs Lakes 2019”

  1. Hi (I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know your name but you are French (?), an engineer and love cooking… I hope so much that is correct as my feet were in so much pain that they may have affected the link to my eardrums!)

    I’m Liz!

    Pascal told me about your blogs whilst we were walking and kindly shared the content! He was quite amazing. I was one of the ones who saw him in the forest when all he was talking about was getting to the next road so he could find a car, but he seemed happy to carry on until he did. I was very surprised and delighted to see him at the next check point! He must have gone ahead as I caught him up and we got to talking. We’d already had the ‘I may have to walk’ conversation at the beginning as I have arthritis in my toes so we two bods decided to chat and finish together. He also encouraged when my asthmatic lungs were complaining about the last horrid climb

    I actually thought I was last as everyone had gone past me and was sending depressed Whatsapps to my husband so Pascal wasn’t the only one. I was amazed when those of us who had been redirected came across the Tarn and pitstop. I think the Rat Race cut offs can be a little flexible!

    In any event I measured 27.5 miles with something like 4500 ft of climb. Quite amazing for a man with a stick! Not only that, hugely interesting and I’m looking forward to meeting him again at Mountain….and you? am I right about that??

    One thing though…I’m not quite 60, that little delight is saved for April next year! thank you for your kind words though!

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