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Ambulances, pies and running PART 1

All too much for the sensations to cope with in 4 days – suffice to say I’m busted but learnt a few lessons along the way. If vaguely interested in my journey through my susceptibility to hypothermia, insulin dependency and a desperate desire to run read on..

I had a whole load of tents to get back to my friends at Threshold – all 60 of them.. They needed them by September and August was looking busy with ITERA – add to this Martin Yelling had one of our trackers and was running the South West Coastal Path see more details about his exploits here And I fancied doing a short section with him. I’d spent the previous 3 months working hard and needed to do something other than organising an event. In summary last Wednesday I packed the car and headed to Oxford.

It was already 10pm when I arrived at the event mid camp and dropped the tents off, but decided with the quiet roads I’d head straight to Devon. At 1.30am I parked outside Barnstable Leisure Centre and slept in the car. At 7am I was in the leisure centre for shower and over the road to Costa for a porridge and tea for breakfast. Feeling smug that I’d slept well, it was a cheap B&B and was ready for the day.

Martin Yelling was running the 620 ish mile south west coast path over 21 days around 25-35 miles a day. I was in no condition to keep up with this fella for a day and thought he would have others around so elected to head to the end “Crackington Haven” and catch a bus back to Bude for the final 10 miles of his day.

Things were taking a lot longer for Martin it was a tough hilly day, I was thinking it be around 3ish but as it turned out it was closer to 5.30..

It was great running with Martin – as it turned it, it was just me and although we had chatted on email prior to his run, the first 2 hrs we gassed about events and ultra running like old friends. Must admit I did go a little silent on the up hills but all was good.

However I had underestimated this run.. I was thinking 2hrs should be good, I’d eaten little as we had set off at 5.30 and I was half expecting to be having a pub dinner around 7.30 / 8.00 – it was now 8 and we were still far from finishing. To make matters worse I’d dropped my libre blood sugar meter, it had fell out of my pocket.. call me stupid but I often just don’t carry a spare meter – I should have done as now I had no idea what my blood glucose was. Just then a fella walking britain! came the other way and I asked him if he spotted it to text me and leave it by the finger post at the path end..  see more about this man here

I didn’t want to alarm Martin, I was here to support him not be a burden – but I was increasingly struggling to keep up.

Quintin the round britain hiker called to say he had found my meter and had left it by the fingerpost.

I knew I was slightly quicker on the downhills, so told him to jog on.. in reality when I saw him running UP some very steep hills 33ish miles in to his day I knew I was seriously out classed and out run. My world of turmoil was mixed with splendid views and amazing evening – but marred by a reality of little water / food and a hill or two to go.

As the sun set I trotted in to Crackington Haven a bit beaten up and humbled.. Martin clearly worried helped me to my car where I was scratching around looking for some lucozade. It was all a blur but I thanked them for their help and suggested they really ought to get on – he had another big day ahead.

My original plan was to find a hotel to stay but it was now 10.30ish, my blood sugar meter in the car says 5.2 but I’m pretty sure I’d been lower in the previous hour.

As they left the carpark – the words “what a dick I am” came to mind. Then the tell tale signs of getting cold started rearing their head.. I’d started the car to get the heater going. This was not good not good at all.

Don’t know why but thought best thing to do was get my meter by that finger post and head to Bude. Must be a hotel there. I was getting proper cold now and shaking quite a lot.. I was to be honest struggling to hold it together / navigate to this fingerpost.. I found it but when I got out of the car I had to get back in again.. I was soo cold. I could see the finger post I was sure my meter was there.. I tried again it was like reaching for that brick at the bottom of the swimming pool before you had to come for air.. it was no good I climbed back in the car in a mess.

I needed help soon.. Martin called to see if I was alright – it was gone 11.00. For a man who has coped with some very stressful situations in warzones I was loosing it and to be honest scared of where this was going. I didn’t know if I could really drive much further and I was unsure where I was. I knew I was not far from Bude.. Martin took the decision away from me and said he was calling an ambulance.

I arrived in Bude parked outside the information centre and the ambulance service called my phone they asked me to put my hazard lights on. This really was not how I wanted the day to end, I was feeling proper bad that Martin was still awake trying to call friends in Bude to see if they could help.

A first responder turned up 15 mins later – not quite sure she knew what to do. My oxygen levels were low my hr was borderline 100 and I was shaking from being so cold. She put me on to oxygen.. fortunately she was able to get the sleeping bag out of the boot of the car.

45 mins later an ambulance turned up.. I love the NHS but this is a bit rubbish 45mins??. The trip from the car to the ambulance was enough to knock me for 6.. another 45 mins later I could tell I was on the mend and feeling better.. BUT.. I had no where to stay and ambulance crew were going to take me to hospital unless I had a bed. Tried calling a few hotels but full. I called Martin again eek now well past his bedtime think around 12.30 and loosely arranged that I’d stay in the car beside his camper.

I followed the first responder escorted me to the campsite and I waved goodbye.. I parked up in the layby opposite texted martin that all was fine and climbed in to my sleeping bag..

PART 2 tomorrow.. time to climb back on the horse.

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