On March 23rd 2013, Michelle took part in the Centurion Thames 100 mile Challenge to raise money for Pseudomyxoma Survivor and raise awareness of PMP. The conditions were horrendous and we salute Michelle on completing the path, it is nothing short of amazing. She tells us about the event:
All week the event was in threat of being cancelled due to the extreme weather conditions and flooding on the Thames Path. The organisers did an amazing job ensuring the event could go ahead but they were forced to change the route - now making 103 miles!!
We woke up to snow on the Saturday morning and had some difficulty getting the car out but we made it to Richmond for the 9:30am briefing. Out of 250 entrants, 165 turned up at the start of the race. There were strict kit checks and then we were off (well I actually missed the start as I was in the toilet but was pointed in the right direction by some slightly amused spectators and soon caught up some other runners!).
There were check points about every 10 miles and I had a fantastic crew that met me regularly to check I was ok and provide me with fuel, changes of clothes and encouragement. I had originally seen having a crew as a luxury but in these conditions they became pretty essential. The path wasn't always obvious and about 13 miles in, I took a wrong turn with three other runners and added a good few miles to my journey doubling back on myself which was very frustrating.
The first 50 went pretty smoothly which I completed in nine hours. Despite falling over twice, I felt really strong. The dark was setting in and I changed out of my wet kit and added some extra layers for the cold night ahead. Mike joined me at this point (in shorts!!!) to pace me through the night and my crew headed home for a few hours break... I had avoided caffeine and eaten little and often but by 9.30pm my eyes started to droop- it was frustrating as my body felt ok, I took on board some caffeine and soon perked up again.
By mile 60, my legs were beginning to feel the impact and the snow and rain had made much of the course very muddy and unrunnable for tired legs. In the dark, tree roots and uneven ground also became more challenging and as a result my pace slowed. Mike provided some motivational music and it made a massive difference having someone to run with, talk too, sing at and drive slightly insane!
Temperatures dropped to minus 5 at night and we wore eight layers of clothing and still never felt that warm. My crew returned at 3am and it was amazing to see them again at mile 80... This was the first time I sat down in the race and my Uncle very kindly assisted with a sock change.
The sun came up about 6am and it was liberating to take my head torch off again. By this point it was hit and miss as to whether I could do it in 24 hours - we pushed on, taking a wrong turn over a bridge into some farm land adding on crucial minutes. At mile 90 my whole body seized up and I had no idea how long it would take me to stagger through the last 10 miles - the cold and fatigue had set in and my movement range was very limited. I had no doubt I would finish, but thought it could be a very long 10 miles!! Slowly my body loosened up and I surprised myself that I managed to run again, mud made this difficult at times but as Windsor castle came into sight I speeded up and had a really strong finish running through a massive puddle up to my waist in water through to the finish line.
I finished in 24 hours 48 minutes. I came 47th out of 90 finishers and was the 4th lady. This event was all I thought it would be and more, I learnt a lot about the power of the human mind and pushing physical boundaries. The number of drop out was very high due to the extreme weather conditions and this made it more challenging than I had anticipated.
Thank you so much to my fantastic crew and friends that came out to support me and Mike for running with me for a crazy 15 hours through the night, it made all the difference and I did thoroughly enjoy the whole experience. I have had a week to recover and reflect on this incredible journey and running for such a fantastic and worthy cause was extremely motivating and made this adventure so much more rewarding.
You can still donate to show your support for Michelle through her JustGiving page.