On Monday 5th March 2012 I will leave the Premier Inn, Thurrock West close to the M25 to begin The Great Orbital Ultra Run. Running anti-clockwise, close to the boundary, I hope to complete the circuit in 9 days. This will be relayed live to the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich for an exhibition taking place from 1st -31st March 2012 (PV Thursday1st March). Next post Sunday 4th March.
Closing View: ‘The Great Orbital Ultra Run’ (Exhibition: Evil Sport and Ultra Run)
Please join me for a closing view of the exhibition at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich.
Saturday 31st March 2-4pm
where you’ll be able to see an archive version of the live event.
Hope you can make it. This will also be a fundraising event for Mind, the mental heath charity for my participation in the 2012 London Marathon, my next running venture.
If you can’t make it or even if you can you can also sponsor me at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/veroniquechance
Many thanks to those who have done so already.
Hope to see you there
Address: Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich, Old Naval College, Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS
Buses: 129, 177, 180, 188, 199, 286, 386
Rail: Cutty Sark DLR, Greenwich and Maze Hill stations
Posting this a week after I completed the run. It’s been a strange old time with mixed feelings and emotions: exhaustion, part relief that it’s over, amazement that I managed it, and a feeling that there’s something missing. After having this strict routine and specific purpose to everyday in getting from A to B by whatever means, a kind of emptiness has set in and I feel that something is missing. It feels odd to be back and although I was away for just 10 days in all, this odd existence of staying in different motels every night has left its mark on me. For the first 3 nights I didn’t sleep, partly from over-tiredness and partly from my limbs aching when lying still. It was difficult to find a comfortable position without some stiffness setting in after just a few minutes- although I needed to rest, I guess my limbs had got used to moving in a certain way and a certain amount every day. I’ve also been having strange thoughts or dreams in my half-sleep of continually trying to find pathways and routes- I guess my mind has remained active too and has not yet recovered from negotiating and figuring these out.
I’ve tried to get back to normal as quickly as possible but I’m realising that perhaps I’m taking it too quickly as last night and today I’ve felt particularly tired and a little emotional. I suppose I haven’t really allowed myself to rest that much: Wednesday, the day after the run was a complete rest day, but I still had to make it home from Dartford, the last stop. Then as other work commitments started coming in on Thursday evening (my evening class) and Friday (my teaching day at Camberwell), I just got on with it.
Aside from that I was eager to get to the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich where I’m showing this work until the end of the month to talk to David Waterworth, the curator about how an archived version of the run would work. We’d also talked about making a display of clothing and items I’d used for the project to give visitors further insight into the project. I was eager to get this up and running (no pun intended!) as soon as possible, so there would be as little gap as possible between the live run and its archived equivalent. So we had a meeting last Thursday and I also talked to Matt Watkins who has been working on the interface about how soon the archive would be ready. I cycled there to keep my limbs moving gently.
A weekend away and I was back in the gallery yesterday morning to set things up. David had found me two display plinths with perspex tops, which were perfect for what I wanted and away from the gallery Matt was just finishing tweaking the archived version. I really appreciate the amount of work he’s put into this, so I didn’t want to push him. I also took some more stills and video footage of the exhibition installation. (see images).
Tried my first run on Sunday whilst I was away in Salford, along the river Irwell. Beautiful morning and beautiful run- took it gently, just 3 or 4 miles. Felt okay and I think I was wise not to do more. I tried a longer run this morning. I was aiming for about 10 miles, but decided to stop at 8.5 as I was starting to feel it in my legs and the back of my left heel. Not pain, just twinges. Felt fine, but it’s left me quite exhausted and I’ve found it difficult to do much today.
After a few false starts at the gallery this morning the archived version of the run is now working. It’s playing at a speed of 1 second for every 30 seconds of real time so that you can see the movement of the GPS tracking. I’m not sure about this. I think it should probably be playing in real time to preserve the integrity of the live event, so it may change. But take a look at:
www.toomanylegs.com (click on archive map)
Leg 9: Days Inn, Clacket Lane Services, Nr. Sevenoaks to the Holiday Inn Express, Dartford.
I’m adding to this 24hrs later, after having had a day of much needed rest. I arrived at the hotel yesterday pretty exhausted but relieved to have made it. The day started off pretty well- it helped to have had an easier and shorter run the previous day and meeting up with my parents did wonders for my morale. I started off the day feeling resfreshed, eager to start and to get the whole thing over and done with.
The weather was coolish and the conditions felt good for what I knew would be a long day. I waved my parents ‘goodbye’ and found a bridge to cross back to the other side of the motorway to continue my run. The first 6 miles until Junction 5 were relatively easy – no major obstacles and some fairly easy ground through woodland and easily accessible open fields, some of which were also public footpaths. I also took advantage of some small roads that ran parrallel to the motorway and would give me easier running ground and quicken the pace. I had a bit of disorientation around some woodland getting round Junction 5, but nothing I had not already experienced. One thing that has been invaluable in all of this has been my reserve mobile ‘phone, which I’ve used to navigate my way round using the GPS. I couldn’t have done without it and it saved me a huge amount of time.
I can’t remember whether it was at this junction or the next that I saw a public footpath going through some woodland that seemed to be going parallel to a road adjacent to the motorway, where there was no walkway to speak of. I took the footpath and found myself walking further and further upward until I reached a steep ridge. I was concerned that I was going off track and about the energy and time I was taking up walking up a walkway that seemed to be getting more and more steep. I decided to keep going and eventually the path levelled out and rejoined the road I need to be on, which was welcome respite and helped me gain some time.
Moving through Junctions 3 and 4 was not too bad- by then I was just focussed on getting on nearer to my destination. I had some difficulty getting around a plethora of paddocks that were quite small and where I had to negotiate several electric fences. Luckily I found that I could pass under them without touching the current. However after passing through a few I came to a dead end with a riding school in progress but luckily found a small pathway instead that ran alongside and actually saved me more time.
The rest was a mix of accessible pathways, more barbed wire fences and some small roads. I was making steady progress until I hit Junction 2 at the intersection of the M25 with the M2. Coming up out from a wooded area, I found myself face to face with a huge crossway of different impassable and uncrossable roads with no means of crossing and several lanes at rush-hour. I could see where I needed to be over the other side and I contemplated crossing, but after hestating I chickened out. This meant backtracking and a detour of at least a mile. This was so frustrating and disheartening as by then I was only about 2 or 3miles away. However, following the road through I found it was a direct route to Dartford and my eventual destination of the Holiday Inn Express. The final route up through a council estate as it got dark seemed to be the longest road ever and eventually I caught the neon lights of the hotel on my horizon. After trying to find the entrance I was finally in. I can’t tell you how good it felt to have finally completed the run and to think that after 9 days running I would not be doing it the next day.
Please check for next post in another couple of days for images from the gallery.
Leg 8: The Bridge House Hotel, Reigate to Days Inn, Clacket Lane Motorway Services, Nr. Sevenoaks (13.2 miles approx.)
A much better day today. I ended last night feeling pretty low mainly due to tiredness after a particularly long day. Thankfully I knew today was going to be a much shorter and more straightforward run with only 2 junctions to negotiate (or 3 if you count the one I was coming off at the start). I think the knowledge that this run was going to be alot shorter helped my morale and I decided not to wear my jacket as it looked like it was going to be a very warm day (a good decision as it turned out). A few minor fights with barbed wire fences near the beginning (including one where a branch sprang back at me unexpectedly and whacked me in the face on my nose quite painfully), and one minor detour around some very aggressive no entry signs. Otherwise a pretty straight forward journey, mainly through farmland and woodland- a few electric fences to negotiate near paddocks, but found a way to get through the gaps without touching the electrified ribbons.
At one point I thought I would have to cross a small railway line, which I don’t like to do but have done if there is no other way round. I was about to cross this one when I spotted a couple of guys with orange fluorescent jackets on on the other side of the line. I’m not sure if they saw me but I retreated back into the woods hastily to try and think of another way across. The last thing I want is a hefty fine for trespassing on the railway. Luckily as I followed the line up through the wood I noticed that it went through a tunnel underneath, so I could get across relatively easily after all. It was worth the slight detour.
Although I was going over much easier ground, I found it very difficult to do much running as my limbs are starting to feel very heavy now. I did my best to try intermittently to keep things moving and to try and quicken my journey, but I was also preserving some energy for my last and final run tomorrow, which is the longest and up hill by all accounts. I doubt I will be really running that much of it , although I will try at least in parts. On another note, I’m a little concerned about my camera relay as it was playing up and kept stopping intermittently today. Just as well I kept checking or there would have been no images to the gallery or to the ‘phone.
It was good to see the sign for the next services even at 4miles away- at that point it didn’t seem so far- some interweaving through some woodland and more fields mainly and the 1 mile sign for Clacket Lane Services came up very quickly.
My parents decided to pay me a visit to wish me well on my last day and have booked a room here too. It was good to see them and to spend a relaxing evening with them. It also made a huge difference getting here earlier (before 4pm)- I was able to completely wind down and relax for a few hours before they got here.
It’s exciting to think that I’m finally reaching the end and that although it’s not over yet I feel very close to the end and that is a great feeling. The whole thing has been quite strange and I’ve gone through some very mixed emotions, but I would have been without doing it in the way that I have with dogged determination. Next post will be when it’s all over.
Leg 7: Brooklands Hotel, Weybridge to The Bridge House Hotel, Reigate (17.2 miles approx.)
Starting this post just before Midnight after a very long day- the longest yet. I didn’t get in until about 7 and it was already dark. I don’t know if it was long because of the difficulties I had to encounter (several false turns and detours and a really long encounter with some brambles), or whether at day 7 I’m starting to slow down, or a combination of both-I’m really starting to feel it now. Also struggling at times to keep up my morale as I’m pretty tired (I also didn’t sleep too well last night- my limbs, particularly my calves felt really stiff and tight and I couldn’t get comfortable). Although I’m really pleased with the way the project has been going, it’s getting tedious now and I’m losing my momentum and enthusiasm that I had at the beginning. I just want to finish now and I will- only two more runs left to go!
The day started well enough, although I knew there would be several junctions, some of them particularly tricky or envolving some lengthy detours. The worst was at Junction 9 outside Leatherhead, an extended dual junction where although the approaches were A roads there were no crossings or paths to speak of. Generally the whole day was quite difficult with very few accessible pathways through (designated or not) and several dead-ends. The warm weather was not helpful either as I need to keep layers on to protect myself from sharp encounters with thorns and barbed wire. (having already ripped my shorts and my jacket sleeve and made a hole in my leggings- I need to preserve what I have left).
Contrary to previously however, the last part of the day was alot better and I managed to find a way through some interconnecting woodland for the last few miles. Slow, but at least there was a way through- that is, right up until the last half mile when I had to clamber over some fencing. Because of all the detours I’d had to do in the earlier part of the day and also the long fight with the brambles, which also wasted a significant amount of time, it was getting dark as I made my way through the last wood. I wasn’t scared, just concerned about my visibility if it got too dark. By then all my equipment had started to pack in with the batteries running very low or not at all. It seemed like I was never going to get there.
I was so relieved when I finally caught a glimpse of the motorway sign for Junction 8 and for Reigate indicating the turn off a mile away.
Tomorrow thank-goodness is a shorter run at an estimated 13.5 miles- I really hope it’s not much longer (most runs thus far have been at least 2 or 3 miles more). At least I only have 2 junctions to negotiate- a major one at the M25/M23 interchange (junction 7) and relatively minor one with an A Road at Junction 6.
Right now, i’m going to have a second bath just to ease my poor aching body before I go to bed. Goodnight.