Day 7 ITERA: Pontneddfechan
My memory is now slightly blurry. Was it this morning or last night that we unload the first van full of kit bags? I honestly can't remember. It was going to be a long day too as we had to be ready for the 1st competitor at 7am with the last one expected to leave 17 hours later.
Again, Adidas Terrex were first through, transitioning quickly into the final 60km bike ride to Cardiff. It was a few hours until Haglof's came through and I was pleased to see that Rosemary's friend Lucy was looking better than she had over the last few days. They had resigned themselves to finishing 3rd, especially as the were feeling exhausted but found they were much closer to the Swedish team than they thought. Bruce on the team said "I though f**k..... we were going to take it easy to the finish and now we're going to have to race".
It was a tough morning for us too. Someone had stolen one of the electronic control points so Tom had to get that sorted. Another part of the route was impassible and there was potential for competitors to stray onto a trail where cyclists were not allowed. None of this could have been predicted and much as it was a stressful ball ache, it simply had to be sorted and sorted quickly.
Teams came through in a steady drip for the rest of the day. Some simply dibbed in, grabbed their bags and fell asleep on clear bits of ground. The end of the race was in sight so many competitors were dealing with the unbearable. Most of us associate trench foot with World War I but it's alive and not so well in adventure racing. Blisters the size of peaches adorned many a foot. Fortunately, Steve our medic was military trained and was more than able to treat the needy. A normal medic would simply refuse to allow some of the competitors to continue. Steve is different. He understands what people can put themselves through in the name of adventure. Trench foot, a bit swelling and minor delirium is not likely to result in lasting injury or threaten life. The wellbeing of the competitor comes first and pulling them out is a last resort!
Rosemary, Sam, Paul and Jon were all looking not too bad when they got to me. Blisters weren't too bad, they were all upbeat and moving better than most teams. One girl was suffering really badly and I took it on myself to hug her, give a little reassurance that she'd soon be finished and the pain would be forgotten next week. The hug was returned with interest, she smiled and trotted off to get a cup of tea.
Team Issy Adventure were last to get in at around 23:15. They were looking shattered and it was possible that they wouldn't hit the final cut-off at 10:00 the next day. Whilst they were getting sorted, I started to do what jobs I could i.e. Sweeping a floor the size of a basketball court, collecting hundreds of mugs and general tidying. At just after 00:15 I sat down and took my shoes off! Bliss. I put Radio 4 on and awoke to the phone going around 01:00. It was HQ asking if we could make Cardiff by 7am. Hmmm....unlikely, I said as the village hall still had to be left as we found it and it was over an hour's drive! I fell asleep again but the phone went again at 02:00. Gahh.....!