Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Irish

I agreed to help as support crew for Paul Tierney's, aka the Irish, Bob Graham Round attempt after he posted on the L100 facebook page. We hadn't met but I was free that weekend and thought it would be interesting as he was going for a very fast time. Fairy joined in, and we talked a few friends into helping out as pacers.

Lots of emails followed! We finally organised who was running which leg and who was picking up/dropping off various pacers, so armed with clipboards, stop watches, laminated timing sheets, spare sets of everything, and Albert, we headed for Keswick.

Fairy and I met up with The Irish and his mate Barry Murray, who is a nutritionist specialising in sport and performance related nutrition. Barry also runs for the Irish Ultramarathon Team with Paul, so not bad at running either! Barry was mixing up a batch of his famous 'Baz Balls' which kept The Irish going and provided us with much mirth over the weekend.
We tried, in vain, to sleep, and so at 1.30am ish we drove down into Keswick, with Stuart and then meeting Bruce, who were going to act as pacers on Leg 1. 
2am, and they were off! Fairy and I went back to Mrs Um, had a cup of tea, cracked some glow sticks (we'd planned on covering the van with them at Threlkeld) and waited whilst drunken folk staggered home, all a bit surreal. Back to the campsite around 4am to collect Big Jon Whilock who was the only pacer for Leg 2. Ant was meant to be there but he had terrible food poisoning and needed to stay near to his own bathroom!

Over to Threlkeld and we went into 'Crew Mode'. The Fairy and I had split our duties, she was in charge of making sure the pacers had all the right rations for the Irish and sorting out his clothes/shoes. I was to feed him and make sure he had his 'special' coffee ready. We'd been instructed by Barry on how to make the 'special' coffee; 4 teaspoons and 3/4 full, after I ensured him that I knew how to work a cafetiere! Hilarious. I timed the stop, kicking them out after 5 mins. The Irish had decided on a 17.5 hour schedule, although he'd never actually been on any of the route before, just thought that sounded ok! He left Leg 1 6 mins down.
We dropped off Bruce back in Keswick and Stuart at the campsite and then headed to Dunmail Raise, the finish of Leg 2, where we meeting Laura, who was covering the support in Wasdale, to give her food/clothing for The Irish. Fairy then drove Jon's car to collect Raj, Leg 3 pacer, from Keswick. I set up and prepped the special coffee, carefully measuring it out. The Irish is sponsored by Team Inov-8 and Adrian and Matt from Inov-8 turned up to cheer him on, which was great. Gary, another pacer turned up and we waited anxiously. Bang on schedule tiny running figures appeared at the top of Seat Sandal and flew down towards us.
Jon had done a great job and had got The Irish back on time. We took over, feeding, clothing, forcing special coffee down his throat and then after 5 mins kicking him out to tackle the horror that is Steel Fell. 
Albert, on the other hand, took it all in his stride.
Jon drove back to Staffs to go to work! We headed back to the campsite in Keswick to try to get some sleep. 3 hours later we were up, with me, Fairy and Stuart making a load of sarnies and fruit bread for the pacers after Leg 4. Stuart is quite a brilliant runner having completed an 18hr something BG previously plus The Fellsman and is going for UTMB this year; he's only 24 but looks around 11! We then headed off to Honister to meet up again around 5pm. Laura had driven round from Wasdale with Gary and Raj. I took Albert for a wander, the lady from the cafe took a shine to him and fed him sausage rolls out of the kitchen window!
The Irish appeared with Barry, Bill and Alan as pacers, 35 mins down after having a tired Leg 4 (what do you expect!) where he had a small hissy fit! We were all ready to go with Fairy, Stuart and Raj joining in on the last leg. I couldn't find a spoon to measure out the special coffee so thought sod it and just tipped loads into the cafetiere and hoped for the best. The Irish couldn't stomach anymore but Barry drank it, declaring it the best coffee and that we'd obviously stuck to the 4 teaspoons rule. Urm, sort of. 4 mins 40 secs later they were off, whooping up the first ascent. I chucked everything, literally, into Mrs Um and made my way steadily towards Newlands up what's called 'the stupid roads' in our house cos they're steep, narrow and surely only for sheep.
Newlands church
I set up and promptly received millions of texts and voicemails wanting updates. I waited on the bridge jumping up and down shouting come on to nobody in particular, watched a chap take the tight turn onto the bridge completely wrong and scrape down the side of his posh car. He then reversed and did it again! Fairy, Stuart, Barry and The Irish appeared at 7.18pm and carried straight on with Barry grabbing some chocolate. As I drove after them to get back to Keswick I realised we were a man down; where was Raj?! I drove back to the carpark thinking if he's not there I can't wait around but thankfully there was Raj wandering up the road. A manic drive back with Raj saying that The Irish really wanted some lucozade. We hurtled into town (ok maybe not hurtled but definitely speeding) as a policeman gave me a 'look'. Heh, we need lucozade I yelled. Just enough time to park up, get to the shop and get to Moot Hall where quite a welcoming commitee were gathered. Dave had driven up from Birmingham after work and had bumped into a couple from Keswick who'd picked up on the attempt on twitter and had come down to see The Irish in, just cos it was so fast! Andy Mouncey and the guys from Apine-Oasis were there, and some of The Irish's friends. Then suddenly there they were, storming up the high street! Paul finished in 17:59:24, quite brilliant! Champagne (and Lucozade) and cheering and lots of smiling, even Albert woofed! 
Happy happy Irish

The next day Barry and Fairy went off for a run (getting lost in Keswick, with a map!) and The Irish and I went for a run/mtb with lots of swearing and wincing from Paul. We'd been invited to Terry and Annie Conway's post wedding bash that night, unbeknown to me and The Fairy so we made a mad shopping trip to Ambleside, accompanied by a very sleepy Stuart, who'd spent the night helping out on another BG attempt, like you do when you're 24/11. We ran round the shops panicking! Sprayed ourselves with testers in Boots, tried on shoes and clothes with Stuart sitting there saying yes that's nice, fighting to keep his eyes open! 
What a fantastic weekend watching quite a fantastic runner do his thing. It helped that The Irish and Barry turned out to be a couple of the nicest people I've ever met. Lots of laughs, beer and cake (supplied by Paul's Mum) and not a lot of sleep, what more do you want?

Paul's brilliant account of his BG can be found here it's well worth a read with some stunning photos.

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