Back on (the) Track – Soochow 24 Hour Race

WOW! Image

AMAZING!

INCREDIBLE!

TREMENDOUS!

ABSOLUTE PERFECTION!

No amount of superlatives, (how ever long they grow), can truly sum up the wonderful event at Soochow University, Taipei, on the 7th and 8th of December just gone. From the moment I was met at the airport by my brilliant support crew helpers Crystal and Tommy, until the moment they said goodbye at the same airport around 62 hours later, it was a simply joyous experience. No amount of vomiting, uncontrollable shaking, cramping, and intravenous fluids was going to change that!

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Frank and Ryoichi Sekiya taken at the 2010 race

I felt so fortunate, welcome, and inspired from the moment I registered for the race.

Frank Kuo is an amazing race director who puts this event together each year. He also challenges us all with other amazing challenges. In 2013 he put on a multi-day race around the whole of Taiwan, and in March 2014 he will stage a 240km single stage race which is sounds both epic and beautiful.

So after two massive amounts of good luck already. An invitation from Frank, and a pick-up from the awesome Crystal and Tommy, it was only natural that I’d completely luck out and share accommodation with World Champion and recent US 100 mile record holder (11h59m) Jon Olsen. What a pro this guy turned out to be. Simply the nicest world champion I’ve ever run with 🙂

Everything continued in this vein throughout my time at Soochow. Friday was great fun and included a very social registration, technical meeting for all us ‘athletes’, and a press conference to introduce us to the masses. Little did I realise how far this would extend. The whole experience was both surreal and wondrous, but so much fun you couldn’t help but get carried along in it.

Saturday morning and I took my time to get up. Facing 24 hours of running makes me value every second in bed, funny that. I felt super relaxed heading to the start. With such names as Jon Olsen (current World Champion), Ryoichi Sekiya (2 x World Champion & Spartathlon winner), Mami Kudo (current World Champion and World Record holder), and Yoshikazu Hara (current UTMF Champion) in the field, it was easy to stay relaxed as placings did not matter. All I cared about was a big total.

A blow-by-blow account of a 24 hour race is never going to be fascinating reading. To cut a long story short, the race took three distinct states.

  • State 1: Running in 2nd gear for 18 hours, feeling on top of the world, creeping up the classification (as a by product of staying consistent and others dropping by the way side through heat/humidity exhaustion), and generally just enjoying every minute and recalculating every now and then how much I’d be just over or under a final total on 245km.
  • State 2. Legs no longer working, temperature no longer stable, stomach contents no longer inside, and a rather shaky and messy Moroz laying prone in the medical tent on IV.
  • State 3. Back on track, getting the legs moving again, and loving every moment as I milked the crowd on my way to plodding round for a nice round total of 200km.
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No prizes for guessing which ‘State’ this was 🙂

I must say I preferred State 1, but State 2 was dealt with in such a great fashion by the medical team and my incredible support that it wasn’t actually too bad. I was never worried that they wouldn’t sort me out. State 3 was glorious fun. Enjoying the crowds and thanking all those that had cheered me on for so many hours was great. After being off track and in the medical tent it just got the crowd going more when I returned. They gave me so much energy again and I just plodded round with a big smile on my face.

I got to 199.6km a little early so relaxed and went the opposite way round the track to speak to people in the crowd and take some pictures. I waited to complete 200km together with ‘The Champ’ Jon Olsen. Upon completion I untagged and again, just enjoyed the show. 200km had a nice feel to it and although it was lower than I’m planned for and expected when I was at 185km after 18 hours, it was the most fun I think I’ll ever have running around an athletics track (until maybe next year 🙂 )

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“Come on Jon you slacker…”

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Olsen (Team USA) and Moroz (Team GB) complete 200km

I cannot say enough good things about Jon, he was a true inspiration. He had a tough day himself but hung in there and never gave up. With nothing to prove after an incredible year he got up after his own ‘IV wobble’ and finished like a true professional. 

With so many amazing people out there it’s impossible to give thanks and heap respect on them all. I must mention Crystal Chen and Tommy (Ting Yang Chang) once again though, they were the best! Also meeting and running with the superb Deb Nicholl, Meredith Quinlan, Ivan Cudin, and Johan Van Der Merwe. So many other incredible helpers and supporters among the Soochow students too including Marta Ma, Kelly Lan, Ivy Lee, Alexsandra Lee, Jessie Tsai, and Angela. I so hope I see all of the above mentioned people again, and all are forever welcome in Hong Kong. I finish with a few more of my favourite pictures from the adventure.

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