It’s a winters evening and I’m glued to my Ipad watching a facebook live video. Three men sat in a pub in Worthing drawing names out of hat have my fully undivided attention.
The wife thinks I’m mad as I explain that I am watching my Sussex Trail Events friends draw out places for the world’s first multi-storey car park marathon. This would be 71 laps up and down a multi-storey car park in Worthing on a Sunday morning. The marathon distance would see a climb similar to the height of Ben Nevis. I watch the entire ballot as 50 names get drawn out of a hat. Sadly I was not lucky. I emailed the team straight away. “Can I go on the reserve list please just in case?”. Low and behold a few weeks later I got in. Praise the lord. This was quickly followed by thoughts along the lines of; this is stupid, I’ll probably get bored, it’ll be too hard, I’ll pass out and probably end up throwing up in one of the stairwells!
Race day and I bomb it down to Worthing in a rush after a bit of a delay doing a nappy changing relay with the boys prior to my exiting the house. (The consequences of my first trip down to Worthing at such rapid speeds not knowing the local roads saw me get detected by a speed camera for which I won 4 hours in a very nice hotel in Reigate on a driver awareness course a month later for a reasonable sum of £100). Whilst the content of the course is good and I learnt a lot I would not recommend it unless you have a genuine interest in the highway code and speed awareness.
Turning up at the race Chris provided me with my running chip and race number. I took a quick look at the ramps up the floors of the car park and was relieved to see they were not as steep as I had feared. The race started and the 50 strong runners quickly spread the course of the car park. After the first few novelty laps the giggles and jokes died down. We were told not to harass the directors with lap updates every 10 minutes so I turned to fellow club runner Tim Boone. “What lap you on Tim?” I asked thinking the answer would be around 30 odd. “17” he replied. Shit. We were here for the long haul and the scenery did not vary. After the two hours people were quite clearly fatiguing. I kept race director Jay in my sites as he was running it and used him as a bench mark for my race.
After around 3 hours of this mental mind game a bell rang out from the bottom floor of the car park. The first place runner Paul was on his last lap. As a nice touch once each runner was on their last lap they were turned around to run against the race and high 5 all the other envious runners, still stuck in this hell.
Towards the end of my time I couldn’t resist but ask for lap counts. My mind playing tricks not believing the answers I was getting and swearing blindly that people who had been turned around for their last lap were actually behind me. Eventually my time came and that last lap running against the mob was such a buzz. Local press were there and the event was filmed for something I cannot recall. I was so glad to do this one as a mental challenge and cement my place as one of the Sussex Trail Event regulars.
Tips: As this is an event never to be repeated. I don’t really have much worth dispensing apart from I think a good imagination is required for these more mentally challenging races to pass the time.
Another good tip is don’t speed – its costly.