Luke and Harry complete the Wadi Rum Ultra Marathon!

THEY MADE IT! HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO LUKE AND HARRY FOR COMPLETING THE MOST GRUELLING RACE ON EARTH. DESPITE LOSING TOE NAILS AND BEING SEVERELY UNWELL THEY MANAGED TO COMPLETE THE 162.5 MILES IN 90 DEGREES CONDITIONS!

Please show your respect by donating HERE

 

 

 

 

Luke’s Blog Day 1

“The set up is pretty straightforward. The competitors sleep in three semi-permanent tents around an open area. We are in the biggest tent, with about 10 people in it. Unfortunately, Harry and I won the slots next to a professional snorer so even though we fell asleep quite early watching John Wick 2, (phenomenal movie) we probably only slept a few hours. We woke up at 6.45 to the sound of the local boys praying which was quite nice. As the sun came up, still half asleep, we gulped some porridge and carbohydrate drink. The ‘staff’ were having delicious looking Turkish coffee and hummus – none for the competitors!! Caffeinated gels were to do the job.

The race started at 8am and the experienced runners quickly pulled away. We started at the back and got into a rhythm and moved into a middle position among the others. It was still nice and cool at this stage, spirits were high and the first 10km flew by. The scale of the Wadi is immense and the huge rocky things are stunning. If it weren’t for the sand and heat, it would be a great place to run. As we got to the first checkpoint after an hour we were laughing; ‘That again three more times. easy’ I said. What a fool! The last hour was brutal; I was cramping all over the place and Harry’s good ankle was also giving him grief. But we got there in just over 6 hours and were very happy with that.

Jamie added a sneaky 7km onto the route, to make it 47km, you can imagine how nice it is to hear that when you think you have hit the last checkpoint!! Today was the farthest we have both run which is something we are proud of. There are some exceptional runners here who make us feel even more amateur than we are, two of them finished in about 4 hours which is unbelievable. Our legs are already very sore. We have had a quick, excruciating rub down from Physio and are currently trying to get food down and stretch

It really is a savage event. The heat is completely sapping and there are so many things to think about with regard to eating, drinking, applying lotions and figuring out which part hurts the most. I almost passed out a couple of times today feeling so lightheaded! Plenty of great moments also today. We kept each other laughing almost the whole way, chatting plenty of absolute rubbish.

We have been overwhelmed with the amount of donations you have given so far, thank you so much! Please keep ‘em coming, it really does motivate us.
Luke and Harry.

DAY 2

After an amazing, albeit tiring first day Luke and I set off to bed early in another failed attempt to finish off the Oscar worthy John Wick 2. Our night was again interrupted by an orchestra of different snorers, however we woke up with our spirits high! After a great start yesterday, we felt confident we could maintain pace we had set for ourselves.

Today was 53km so we were woken at 5.45 to set off at 7. The sun had not yet risen so after fumbling about in the dark we managed together our act together and after we set offer the starting line, only to realise the rest of the group had already set off! Luke and I had ground to cover as the rest of the pack were heading off in to the distance. We started off strong as we hoped to cover as much ground as we could while the sun and temperature was low. We soon caught up with the rest of the pack. Morale was high, after using yesterday as a tester to try out our different gels and drinks, we felt better prepared to tackle the gruelling 52km we had ahead of us.

The first 30km flew by, we had time take in the stunning landscape we are running. The route was much more varied than yesterday, running through valleys in to vast open planes, we feel like we are running on mars. As the day goes by the temperature rises, fast. By 40km we were starting to feel the heat. We were prepared, drinking around 2 litres every 10km, we managed to pull through. After a savage last 5km uphill we got back to camp in just over 7 hours which we are chuffed with.

Both our legs are starting to really stiffen up, however after a deep rubdown by the Physio we have a few hours to relax before tomorrow. After another change up of the route we now have 70km to look forward to tomorrow rather than 60km, Jamie does like to keep us on our toes. This does mean an early of around 3am, can’t wait!

The harshness of the environment and the effect this has on the body is really starting to show. Out of the 26 runners who started the race 4 have had to be picked up. Goes to show how tough this race really is! Your generosity really keeps us motivated and push through the pain. Thank you all so much.

Day 3

The distances were slightly changed due to park authorities saying they didn’t want us in certain places on certain days so day three ended up being the really big one: 70 km. The last two days we ran 55 and 35km. Day 3 started off very well. We set off in the dark, with our head torches on and the route illuminated by glow sticks. It actually got really hot as it was so still. We were wearing clothes designed to wick sweat off to keep cool but without wind they are like wearing a jumper. 

Everyone actually found this bit pretty hard. Watching the lights of the other runner’s twinkle in the distance was cool and as you would expect in the desert the stars were phenomenal. However the dark made finding firmer sand to run on trickier and most of the time you are staring just beyond your feet trying not to stub toes on the loose rocks, rather than taking in the Milky Way. 

We ran the first marathon in about five hours trying to get the miles out the way before it got too hot. It’s strange, when you have such a big amount ahead of you, a marathon can seem like a manageable distance to run. At this point it’s quite hard to remember, as a lot of the memories have blurred into one, but we found the last section, beyond 50km, very tough. My left ankle and knee were pretty knackered as we marched through thick sand. Harry’s legs also were naturally starting to feel more tired. We finished in 11 hours and were happy with that. 

It all started to go wrong when I went to borrow some salt from the staff chefs to add to my boil in bag meal. The boys gave me some chopped veg to put in too and I think it must have been what made me sick. I didn’t sleep at all and threw up all night. I couldn’t get any liquid or food to stay down.

Day 4

I really wanted to complete the stage so started walking in the morning, feeling wretched. I set off, exhausted and teary eyed, to see if I could walk the first 10km. I had told Harry I probably would not do it so he should go on, but found him up ahead waiting. We walked the first 20km in 5 hours and I don’t think I have ever felt more miserable, here was no song that got me going and plenty of tears! With such a huge sugar low and feeling dehydrated and delirious it’s so hard to feel positive in any way. I felt so disappointed and that I was letting people down. Jamie told me to stop and said we either need to get to the next 10km checkpoint in 1hr 45 or we would have to stop. I don’t know what I would have done without Harry as it’s quite nerve racking thinking you might pass out in the heat. 

About 20 minutes after seeing Jamie I threw up everything I had drunk and eaten. I said to Harry that I needed to call it a day and hit the help button on the tracker. But it didn’t go off and when the ambulance with two Jordanian doctors came up behind us, they were not aware I wanted to stop and then I somehow started to feel better. My stomach started to hold down liquids but not food. I kept on with the carbohydrate sachets and gels. At 30km they put an anti-nausea injection in my bum which also helped. 

The next 25km was a huge effort from both of us. We basically ran and stumbled around this never-ending fence of the Dubai royal family’s Summer compound it started to annoy us more! The ground was also very hard under foot. We were both in a lot of pain, but as we had been doing for the whole week, we looked after each other. Mostly Harry with me at this point!  

We crossed the finish line in the dark and went into the new camp where they were blasting awful music and some kind of hen do was going on. 

I got into my sleeping bag and didn’t really move, feeling awful and wired and sick. Harry and Jamie bought me some small bits of food but I could not stomach much. It’s quite weird going to bed with a pulse rate around 90 but the lovely Danish doctor Thor assured me this was part of the recovery. 

DAY 5

Completely on empty, we set off for the last day which was just under a marathon at 35km which for me wasn’t as horrid as Thursday but it was the most physically painful and exhausting by a long way. It’s pretty hard to describe the exhaustion and quite hard to remember what it feels like once you have come out of it. A week of being in that environment felt like months. 

I was still feeling so low not having really eaten much but a few peaches in brandy and some crackers for breakfast.  Usually we would have a lot of porridge.

By the end of the day our legs feet and toes were completely ruined. At a couple of the checkpoints Kieran, the Physio, dug into my leg to try and get the stiffness out, which was almost not worth it! I squealed like a pig. 

The last 2km felt harder than the first 50 at the beginning. It was so still, must have been above 35 degrees, cramps were setting in all round as we ran past some dried carcasses and worn out cars across the barren valley plain strewn with litter on the home stretch. It’s just the biggest relief to finish.

On Thursday morning I thought it was going to be over for me. Knowing that people had donated to support us kept me going. The charity and the Chapple family mean so much to me and I really wanted to do it for them and everyone else supporting the charity. 

It’s a great feeling doing something as a team. I could not have finished the race without Harry, who has been a complete beast. Even when we have both been upset and in pain we have picked each other up with bad jokes. 

A huge hats off to everyone who took part in this, some amazing, very stubborn athletes.  Also the organisers and volunteers who helped us get through.

I have typed this up on my phone on the bus out of the desert so apologises for typos, Harry is going to try and write something longer tomorrow. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so kindly.

HARRY’S BLOG

On Friday Luke and I finished what has been for me, physically, the toughest week of my life. Crossing the finish line after crossing 260km of the Wadi Rum was a feeling I shall never forget. In the months prior to arriving in the desert I had done all I could to prepare for the race but I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for the physical and mental test this week would entail.

If the 260km in the desert heat was not challenge enough I awoke on Thursday morning to find Luke had been violently ill all night, with no signs of letting up. Luke had not slept and was completely drained. As the runners gathered their things and prepared for the 55km day ahead of them, Luke was faced with a choice, to continue or miss this stage to recover for the last. As anyone who knows Luke could guess, he chose to battle through the pain. Watching Luke on Thursday was inspiring, if not terrifying. After repeatedly throwing up along the course in the burning heat, having not slept, most sane people would have called in the medics. Luke commitment to finishing the race was truly astounding. We tackled the race stage by stage. After perseverance and determination we both finished the day long after sundown. 

We woke up on Friday morning, after what felt like months in the desert, with a comparatively small 35km. This was however, the most challenging day for me. Having given it my all the previous 4 days, I was on my last legs, literally.  Luke was still unwell. We somehow managed to stumble through the last day through a cocktail of energy gels and bad jokes!

We are both, as you can imagine, completely exhausted. Running through the beautiful Wadi Rum was an amazing experience and there is nobody I know with whom I would rather have run this with. Never was I in any doubt that we could complete this challenge with Luke beside me. I am certain I would not have been able to do it without him.

This undertaking would never have been possible without the dedicated team of doctors, physios, photographers and videographers, without whom me and Luke both would not have been able to see this through. So, we would like to thank everyone who supported us throughout the last week and thank Horatio’s Garden for their inspirational work and the extremely generous donations.