Fun in Cologne at the 48 hour race

In 2010 I helped out at this race with Alan Young. We did the well stocked food table between us, Alan doing the night shift and me the day shift. It appeared to be a well organised event so, as I have never attempted a 48 hour race (I have done 24 hours 15 times) I thought I would give it a go this year. The thought of all that food also attracted me!
Apart from the very good organisation, the people I met last year were all very friendly and most spoke English. During the evening of the 2nd night we were entertained by a very good jazz guitarist and ultra distance runner, Stefan Weigelt who figured in my 2011 race. More on that later.
Taking part in this years race was William Sichel (with Alan Young as crew) and, amongst others, 2 of the top German runners so it promised to be an exiting race.
One of the things I remembered from last year was the horrible cinder track so I bought some special ‘gaiters’ to cover my shoes and stop the grit getting in. This proved to be a good move as, the track was very dry and dusty.
We started at 12 noon on Friday 15th of July and 43 runners/walkers toed the line. Due to insufficient running training I had decided to walk this event and I was not the only one competing in this way. German international runner Martina Hausmann who I first met in Gothenberg 6 day race was was also walking. I know she is much quicker than me so no competition there! The other 4 ladies were running with the occasional walking breaks. We were advised that we would change direction every 6 hours, always fun as every one does a ‘High Five’ to the turning runners as they go by.
It was quite warm from the start with the sun shining but a slight breeze was blowing the dust from the track over everything including our tents, food tables and into our lungs.
Sometime in the afternoon an expat Yorkshire man named Dave turned up to see what was going on and we had a nice chat. He has lived in Germany for many years and, having played a lot of football was fairly fit but not a runner. He was amazed at what we were doing and promised to come back later to support us.
During the first day I was walking 3 miles an hour but took a few breaks for food and 1 hour sleep. My mileage after 24 hours was just under 50 miles (80.30 km) so it was apparent that if I was to reach my 102 mile (165 km) target I would need to speed up a bit on day two.
By the end of day one I was suffering with soreness under the balls of my feet and the right one was the worst. I rarely get blisters but as the track was such a bad surface several people were also having similar problems including William. So I decided to take a break and a kind guy who was crewing for one of the German ladies helped me remove my shoes and socks to investigate the damage. No blisters but a very sore patch near my toes so I applied a Compeed plaster and changed my socks. It seem to help a bit so I carried on round and round in never decreasing circles. By the way the track was only 309 metres round.
Stefan Weigelt and his band turned up to entertain us for a while but had to stop following a complaint from some local people about the noise!
Although some showers had been forecast no rain appeared until Saturday evening, I think around 9-00pm, and then it poured all night for about 10 hours! During the evening my new chum Dave appeared with a nice bottle of red wine . Well, I had 2 choices, slog it out in the pouring rain or take a break for some red wine. We had already had dinner earlier. Of course it wasn’t a difficult decision so Dave and I retreated to the ‘mess tent’ where we were soon joined by Stefan and another member of his band, also a guitarist. Then a few more people joined us and there was also some beer so we had a nice little ‘jam’ session singing and generally having fun. I knew that sitting down would not get me miles but under the circumstances ‘WAS I BOVVERED’. We sat and watched the runners plodding around, some with plastic capes and others with umberellas. The 2 top Germans had long since gone home and William was soon to take the lead. It was becoming an interesting race as the first lady was in 2nd place overall.
Well, at some point, not sure when, in the early hours of Sunday morning I decided I had better make a move and rejoined the race only to find part of the track completely under water and competitors running a short section on the grass. I did not like that and it was still dark so, after a couple of hours sleep, I set off once again in daylight and continued on my weary way. The race Director Wolfgang was seen with a bucket trying to clear the flooded section of track which he eventually achieved so we breathed a sigh of relief and pressed on. The surface was a bit mucky but passable. Not for long though.
Eventually the rain eased off and the tents began to dry out but then, with about one hour left it began to rain heavily again. And parts of the track became waterlogged again. The band had turned up to entertain us for the last couple of hours which cheered us up a bit.
So, William won the race with just under 208 miles (334km), his first ever 48 hour win and I ended up with just under 78 miles ( 125km). The first lady recorded 307 km in 2nd place.
Martina asked me if I ever take a race seriously so I replied ‘I came here to have fun and fun I had’! What more can I say. I made some more good friends and enjoyed every minute of it especially the red wine!
After the race we all had a nice meal and presentation together then I packed a very wet tent away and headed off to the City where I was to stay the night. I slept from 5-00pm until 8-00am!
Flew back to Gatwick on Monday afternoon and, as I write this (Thursday), I am just about recovered from the sleep deprivation which is the key to successful multi day racing.
In short, disappointed with my race result but I had a fantastic weekend.

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