Sunday, May 23, 2010

On mobile broadband so no pictures this time but I have some crackers for you when I'm back in a proper base!

Day 2 was an utter nightmare. I think that we may have been the only people in Ireland hoping for a cool, damp weekend! Instead we got hot, humid and hotter. What didn't help was the terrain which was consistently hilly - I had a bad feeling when the very first street sign we saw was for the "Longhill Road"! And it was...both long and hilly...

Anyway, there was a bit of a faff in the morning, we were about a 45 minute drive from the end point and because it was a spray painted marker on the road surface down a boreen it took longer to find than anticipated so we were late starting, probably 6:45ish. While it was cool early on the hills were savage and it took a lot out of Jo. As crew we were also having trouble with the navigation, narrow country lanes with unmarked junctions and roads that simply weren't on maps meant that we were constantly scouting ahead and trying to double back in time to update Jo before she took a wrong turn.

Once we got onto a major road things got easier but of course by then it was hotter. And thats when I made my boo-boo (sorry Jo!) We were in the van sorting out the next feeds and planning when she ran by and I hadn't spotted a junction a few hundred meters ahead. "Right or Left?" yells Jo. "Right" says I, then dashed off to verify on the maps... You know what happens next, don't you?

Of course it should have been left so we caught up with Jo and yelled at her to stop. Now we have been living and breathing Guinness World Record rulebooks for a few weeks and the rules are pretty clear that a competitor can leave the course and if they do they can be driven back to it. My panic though was that if Jo's Garmin (the GPS watch tracking her distance) was driven in the van it might go nuts, lose the signal or otherwise misbehave. Call it paranoia but I just didn't want to take the risk. Additionally by running with it I could run to (and tell Jo when I was at) the correct spot for the hand-back when she was back where she should have been. It probably seems silly to someone reading this that we would drive her a few hundred meters rather than just let her run it but any wasted effort was too much as far as I was concerned.

So I got to run with the famous Malin to Mizen Garmin watch! Hurrah!

Steff drove Jo back to the correct point on the course and I handed over the GPS for her to carry on from there. I'm trying to make light of it now but at the time I was worried about Jo - there had been a few minor niggles but stuff like that can erode a runners confidence in the team and feeling stiff, sore, tired and with so far still to go I was concerned about the impact it might have on her state of mind. This kind of thing is as much mental as physical and I felt bad that I could have put more pressure on her than been a help.

(Para regarding witness removed due to subsequent developments)

The rest of the day progressed with more and more walk breaks and a constant battle to manage Jo's feet, which are swelling and blistering in the heat. Which is fustrating because her legs feel fine. The feed strategy (thanks Tony!) is working brilliantly and Jo has had no tummy trouble but obvioulsy the day was taking it's toll on her mentally. Thankfully just as she was fading David arrived to run with her and he kept her in good spirits until Drumlish, County Longford (thanks to the pub patrons who gave very vocal support by the way!) where we called it a day. 96kms run day 2 with 221kms in total.

Keep an ear out on the radio news and an eye on the TV because we're hoping for more press today and tonight (Sunday) we have a function in Long Charlies pub on Kenyon Street in Nenagh, so if you are there come along and give a shout hello!


  1. Jo - you're an absolute hero. I struggled through a very sweaty 4 miles at 11am today, so you have my total admiration to be doing such mileage in incredibly tough conditions.

    Kieran (aka Peckham)

  2. Seeing as it's an official record attempt should anyone other than the person attempting the record have worn the GPS?

    John O'Regan

  3. Jo, Well done so far. You're doing a great job!


  4. UCC Staff Athletic ClubMay 23, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Jo, Best of Luck from all at UCC AC - you are AMAZING - I DIED in a 10Km race in Youghal - I don't know HOW YOU DO IT!!! Go Go Jo xxx

  5. Thanks for the good wishes folks, I'll pass them all on to Jo when she wakes up. Clichéd as it sounds it really helps.

    John - that's a fair question. I'll need to verify but from memory the Guinness rules don't specifically require a GPS track. The way it works (as I understand it) is it's based on collaborative evidence. Someone turning up with a GPS watch track of something on it's own would be worthless as evidence, as would (for example) a witness statement at Malin and a witness statement in Mizen with nothing in between. It's the weight of all of the evidence taken as a whole that counts.

    So in our case we have photos of Jo at the daily start and end points (file stamped with the system date and time) as well as photos of her on the route and at various times through the day. We also have photographs of her running with witness coupled with their independent and signed statements. We have witness statements from by standers who are usually approached before Jo is in view (so that she doesn't know an observer is around the corner) and who is only allowed to sign after they have seen her go by. We have the full route map, with times and waypoints and an event log maintained by myself and Steff. And of course we have the GPS data from her watch showing time, speed and distance for the route. (It's probably easier and less work to run it legitimately than to attempt to fake all the evidence!)

    And in theory Jo wouldn't even need to be wearing the GPS watch, we could just keep it in the van and that would prove that we covered the route or if it was rubbing or chaffing a crew member or support runner beside her could carry it but obviously for us it makes more sense for her and her alone to physically wear it on the course for the truest record of activity. And it's all about building the pieces of the jigsaw of evidence. In this case I wanted to make sure I went to the correct place and that the Garmin maintained signal and coherence, so I carried the watch which I am happy is within both the spirit and letter of the rules.

    As I have said we are very open about our route. If ANYONE wants to shadow us without our knowledge then feel free to get in touch with the Carers Association and they will get you details of where we are and our intended route. Observers can then either follow us or watch us without our knowing we are being observed and you can satisfy yourself that this is legit. All I would ask is that you say hello afterwards and fill in an official statement to say you saw us!

  6. Well done so far Jo. Stay strong - focus on the bits of you that feel good. You're awesome!
    Emma (mellifera) xx