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No Finish Line, Monaco

Well, I thought it was about time that I reported on my biggest race of 2010, the 8 day No Finish Line in Monaco.
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has sponsored me, the money has been taken to Kiyindi and will be put towards the building of the orphanage.
I flew out to Nice with my good friends Alan Young (from Dundee) and Richard Gurd (from Horsham). Alan has been to this event several times but it was Richards first time. I went in 2009 but only to ‘watch and learn’ and jog a few training runs as I had a Marathon in the U.K. the following Sunday. I loved it so much that I decided to take part in the full 8 days in 2010. Richard normally only runs Marathons so this was a whole new experience for him.
From Nice we took a bus to Monaco enjoying the ride round the mountains in nice sunny weather. Alan was sharing a portacabin for accommodation but Richard and I decided to take tents (bought from Tesco’s for a tenner each!). On arrival we pitched our tents underneath the shelter of the harbour wall and this was to become our home for the next 9 nights. That evening we went to a nice restaurant for a pizza to enjoy our last ‘civilised’ meal for several days.
Unfortunately the good weather was not to last as it became wetter and colder as the week went on.
We met several runners from previous multiday events and lots of new faces also. Great camaraderie amongst these guys.
The race was started by Princess Stephanie at 2-00pm on Saturday 20th November with not only the 50 or so 8 day competitors but also loads of local runners, joggers and walkers. The object of this event now in it’s 11th year, is to raise vast amounts of money for a local childrens hospital. All competitors hire an electronic ‘chip’ and every time they cross the mat on the 1km circuit a euro is paid to the charity by the sponsors (Royal family and banks etc). Every man, woman, child and dog (with chip on collar) seemed to be on the circuit which became quite congested. At the end of the day Richard decided that a van should come along, round everyone up, and take them to the ‘funny farm’. Little did he know that by the end of the week he would also be ‘hooked’ and wanting to complete as many laps as he could each day! Every evening we were given a hot meal and a beer but the rest of the time we were self catering. There was a ‘cookhouse’ for our use in a small tent that had a fridge freezer, two ring cooker, microwave and kettle. The supermarket was 15 mins walk away so we didn’t go hungry.
My target was at least 50km a day but I had all day to do it so I was hopeful of reaching my target. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too good and I struggled to run in the torrential rain. It was also cold and I had not taken sufficient warm kit so I eneded up walking rather than running to avoid having to wash clothes daily. This was a challenge as the wash hand basins did not have plugs. After a few days a very kind ex. pat lady offerred to take some clothes home and wash them in her machine for me. Very kind of her and she delivered them back to me the following day. One of the things I love about this event is that the locals are all so friendly and supportive.
Richard got completely into the spirit of the event and ended up doing at least a Marathon everyday. Things didn’t go so well for poor Alan who tripped on the ‘chip’ mat on the 3rd lap of day one and tore his hamstring Ouch! He rested for a while, took some photos, crewed a bit then decided he was getting bored. He then walked/jogged around but was obviously in some pain.
One of the things I like about this event is the groups of children that come out each day from the school which is situated on the circuit. The teachers just send them on their way with a chip on their shoes and a different class come out each day. For the second year running (excuse the pun) I met up with young Hugo Hakkinen who tells me his dad is a racing driver! We did a few laps together with some of his chums talking about school etc. Such well behaved and friendly children and great to be able to chat to them without worrying about the consequences!
At the end of the week my good friends Elaine Oddie and Heather Foundling-Hawker arrived to take part in the 24 hour race that started at 9-00am on the Saturday together with Abichal Watkins who had come to help Alan crew for Heather. I had promised Elaine I would go round the entire 24 hours with her day and night so we trotted off together soon to be reduced to a walk but enjoying each others company. Heather set off at a good pace looking to run 200km to qualify to run for England in the Commonwealth championships in September.
As I was behind on my daily target I assumed I would be able to make it up during the last 24 hours. Wrong! I was so tired that by the early hours of the morning I was flagging and so decided to take a couple of hours sleep at 5-00am so as to keep Elaine company for the last 2 hours of her race. When I woke up it was pouring with rain so we walked together until the end when Elaine went back to her hotel for a bath, some food and a rest before coming back to see us finish at 2-00pm. The rain eased off towards the end and after the finish we all walked one lap with Prince Albert and his entourage. Wine and snacks were served and we all congratulated each other on our achievements over the last 8 days. It was quite emotional as we had literaly lived, ate, slept and competed together which is what I love about the multi day fraternity.
I was pleased with my result of 360.844 km considering I had run very little and walked a lot but Elaine was a bit disappointed that she didn’t mange her 100km target even though she kept going for the full 24 hours and Heather also did not make her 200km. Richard clocked up 401.688km and I think he enjoyed the experience.
After the race I was blessed by being able to go with Elaine to her hotel where I had a lovely bath and a couple of hours sleep before returning to the harbour to meet the others for a meal. I then returned to Elaines Hotel with her for my last night. After Elaine went home the next morning I went back to dismantle my tent and head off to the airport with Richard, Alan and our Swiss friend Freddi. Heather had already left.
Well, it was a great event and I am really looking forward to going again next year.
I raised over £500 for Advance International Ministries and shall contine my JustGiving.com site until after the Virgin London Marathon.