RacingThePlanet Blogs 2022
View All Posts 2022 From : Joelle Kabbaj
19 August 2022 08:43 pm (GMT+02:00) Helsinki, Kyiv, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius
I am writing this post at the end of a marvellous day, the rest day which we spent in the camp we reached after the long march. It is a beautiful place by a lake which to me is the exact image of Scandinavia: wooden red houses with white window frames, pines trees, a communal sauna and a pontoon where people go to jump in the lake in between 2 saunas sessions. We even had the visit of a reindeer this evening. And the cherry on the cake is that we had the surprise of a hot shower and real toilets for every one which seems like such a luxury.
Once again we were very lucky with the weather and were able to spend the day outside, eating, chatting, comparing our injuries and blisters and recounting our experience of yesterday so as I do not have so much time to write, let’s go back to yesterday...
I have blurred images of yesterday and mixed feelings. First and foremost, the one that comes to mind is the feeling of elation and accomplishment. The long march was long indeed and very challenging. Even if both of us have already raced this distance in the past (a little over 80 km), doing it after 4 marathons in four days is another story, not to mention the short nights in the tent, our sore backs from the heavy backpack etc. We both started strong and confident and the first half of the course was amazing. The scenery was stunning. We were running or hiking on trails in the forest, we got our feet wet and muddy again otherwise it would not be fun, we crossed a river in a small dinghy, I came across a group of children who were all cheering and so many other things which are kind of mixed up in my mind. My feet were hurting but I kept going, thinking the fastest I go, the sooner I will finish. I had to stop at check point 2 to pop a blister and tape my toe again and managed to keep a good pace until check point 5. This is when it became a mental exercise as the last 30 km were more or less only on gravel road or dirt road and for the last 10 km even a normal road which for me is very very boring and tough as I do not enjoy road running. So I had to occupy my mind either by trying to keep up with the runners in front of me which does not always work, reciting names (of friends, cousins, past teachers etc.), thinking of more expressions with the word “pied” (see my last post!), calculating what time I will reach the next check point knowing my speed and the distance left etc... I was not enjoying myself anymore and was telling myself I would never ever participate in this kind of races and was wondering how half of the competitors who were here had made the choice to come again. I thought once is enough, that’s it!!!
After the rest day, I have to say I understand better. I am not saying I will do it again, but I can see why people might want to. The feeling of success you get once you finished this hard day, the comradeship between the participants and also the staff, all this might make it all worth it....
I have to mention the checkpoints and how important they are as they give you something to look forward to about every 10 km (so depending on the course about every 90 to 120 min). The staff and the volunteers there are all amazing. Super friendly and encouraging, they always have positive words that gives you the energy to continue to the next one. Those people are heroes!
The cyber tent is closing so I have to stop here for now. Apparently we have a chance of seeing the Northern lights around 2 am tonight. More details in my next post.