After darkness comes dawn

Posted on May 5, 2012


Today’s post is dedicated to the very funny, sweet and kind Phillip Wallace aka Fanta Pants thanks to his strawberry blond (wink wink) hair! 

Phillip I met in Nepal last year and last weekend we ran together in Lijiang.  Within moments of seeing him again, he said, ‘Tori, the thing about your blog is, it’s always so damn positive.  I mean, you never talk about your low moments in a race and there always are low moments.’

So I told him I would think about my lowest moment and put it down on paper. Day one of Lijiang was the perfect opportunity to reflect on this after being given strict instructions that iPods were forbidden so that we would hear rock avalanches and be able to move out of the way before being knocked off a cliff.  A charming thought.

But back to my lowest moment.

During Racing the Planet Nepal last November, I was pretty sick as were a load of competitors.  I soldiered on from day-to-day but energy levels were seriously waning … a proper meal hadn’t passed my lips since the start and I was existing on snickers bars and fat coke … anything to give my broken body a quick sugar fix.

My moment came the night before the long march, days 4 and 5.  I had already run three days of 42-ish clicks a day, heavy pack on back and with some serious elevation so tiredness was fast setting in.  Combine this with the fact that we slept in a tiny tent … five boys and two girls that was not only filthy but stank and was so small that we were intimately connected by the end of the week!

Being a fully self-supported event meant that we had to carry everything ourselves so kit and supplies were already kept to a bare minimum and … thanks to my vile tummy bug, my rations of toilet roll were exhausted by day two. Others in my tent were equally as crook so we moved on to using the pages of a novel by Kate Fox … not quite as soft as Kleenex but did the job.

On the night in question, I was determined to try to rest as well as I could, knowing that I had 70-something km’s to cover the next day and with the elevation involved, expecting to take 16 hours or so. But instead, I had the worst case of the shits you can imagine and spent much of the night squatting in a toilet tent that had the worst stench imaginable. Both ends were exploding and I felt absolutely bloody miserable.  I remember the same question going round and round in my head … ‘Tori, what the hell are you doing this for? What are you trying to prove?’

I was falling apart at both ends and the entire Kate Fox novel was now done and dusted.  No bog roll, no pages of a book … what next I thought. Answer? CASH!  Yes, cash i.e. notes and notes of real life money. Certainly gives a whole new meaning to ‘spending a penny’ …

Phil … this was my lowest moment EVER.  I felt so low and so drained.  My dad had pulled out of the race and my little sister, Alex who was on the support team was at another checkpoint so although I did know plenty of people, I felt lonely and helpless. I remained in the toilet tent for much of the night and cried. A LOT.

I’m afraid though, I can’t complete this post without a silver lining and in this case, my darkest hour really did come before dawn.

In the morning, Alex was back at camp … she gave me words of encouragement, huge hugs and wiped away the tears. And then my crazy Irish tent mates managed to make me laugh. And I got up, packed up and off I went … one foot in front of the other, up and down mountains for the next 16 hours.

And today, I think back with huge admiration for my achievement, not just in the physical sense but in the way I managed to turn round my mindset from a pretty shitty (!) situation to just get the job done.

So Phil … bear this in mind in future … not the gory details but the fact that yes, every race has low moments … 

in fact, I think every long race reflects a lifetime with moments of happiness, tiredness, sadness, elation, trial and triumph. And that triumph is all the more sweet when you’ve had to contend with a little bitterness along the way …


Ps. After creaming you on all those hills, your challenge is set for Nepal in Oct. I dare you!

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