I have not finished…but I am finished. I am also lost. In the Australian bush. God damn it.
I have nothing left. The kayaking stole my strength, the mountain biking crushed my spirit and now here I am, face down in the sand.
I am not getting up.
I don’t even want to.
This is the most exhausted I have ever been in my entire life. If there was ever going to be a time to give up, this is it. Nobody would blame me and nobody would be surprised.
This was a bad idea from the start – the embarrassing, pathetic start.
Rolling over, I prop myself up against a tree and seek an energy bar in my bag. It takes minutes to unwrap – my stupid, blistered hands aren’t working. Nothing is working. Eventually, I shove it half-wrapped down my face. If it has a flavour, I am oblivious to it.
For the first time, I take a couple of puffs on my inhaler. Am I asthmatic? Only God knows and He prefers to burn you for eternity than part with useful information. If I’m not, this probably won’t hurt. If I am, it’s better late than never.
As for burning in Hell, I think I already am. Except that I’m in Heaven! I’m on some kind of paradise island and, although it’s the end of the Australian summer, it’s still 34 degrees warmer than it is in my hometown.
I know I am not in the phyiscal shape to get a good time in this event and the only reason I am not weeping is because there is no water in my body left for tears. Yet it isn’t the distances that have crippled me. It is the heat. It is probably hotter here now than it has ever been in England, since records began. That’s a long time, I’ve heard.
I’m just not ready for it. It is cooking me alive, in my silly long black clothing.
In a fit of rage, I haul off my running top. It smells sharp, of ketones. Apparently my body is digesting itself for energy – grim. Still, UV be damned; I’ll take a burning over a roasting.
So if I knew this was going to happen, why am I here? I knew this was going to be too new, too far and too hot for me to handle. Yet here I am, lost in the Australian bush and sucking desperately on an energy pack to get me off the ground…
For the love of God, WHY?!
As it happens, there are two reasons. Firstly, I am here because I want to learn something new about myself; what happens to my willpower when I have absolutely nothing left? We all like to think we’d find some inner determination and keep pushing to the end, but I want to know that for a fact.
Secondly, irrelevent of how much determination I may or may not have, I want more. So I’m trying this – something I honestly don’t know if I can do. After all, how else to you develop anything without first finding your limits and pushing them, sometimes until they break?
Unfortunately for me, I am a Guildsman. And I do not break.
I am back on my feet now.
There can be only one end to this. There could only ever be one end to this. It’s going to hurt, though. By the Gods, it’s going to hurt.
Which way to run…?
Seven hours after I fell out of my kayak, I cross the finishing line.
I am practically the last person to cross it, but cross it I do.
I have come all but last of the Enduro athletes, covered half the distance of the Ultra athletes and taken longer to do so…but I have finshed.
I have travelled 45km in the Australian summer by kayak, bike and foot (mainly by foot), but I have finished.
I have finished.
Suddenly, Anita from Itchy Feet Media appears. I have 90 minutes to change, then we’re filming for TV.
A Guildsman needs no rest.
A Guildsman needs only glory.
And a God damn shower.