0 weeks to go — 12 hours to go — oh shit!

So it’s here. The Spine Race. No more thinking or planning or testing or sleeping. Oh, sleep, totally over-rated. Something that will be in short supply over the next 6 or 7 days. Being able to keep going when tired will be pretty important if the Yukon Arctic Ultra was anything to go by.

But although it is now less than 24 hours before we hit the trail, there’s still time for doubt and fear. No matter how many miles you do in training, you never think it’s enough. I’ve done the miles this year but don’t feel I’ve done the miles this last few months. The 100 milers have proven I have the legs for 24+ hours without sleep but they are just 1 day events with minimal kit and good weather. See, the doubt is there. Gnawing away in the background. Learning to ignore it is part of the game, arguing with your chimp, putting it back in the cage where it belongs. Let it out now and again to rant, but never letting it escape and get out of control. But never keep it in too long as that’s when it gets to you without you knowing it. Yep, let it out now and again, even on the trail but ideally when no one else is around!

Of course, friends tell you how great you’ll be not really knowing what it’s like. They mean well and it’s always appreciated but when the flag goes down, that’s when it’s all down to you. No one else. And last year, for all the excuses I used, the chimp won. My head went down and I lost the mental battle. So this year I am fearful. Very fearful. I just hope that fear has helped me prepare like a man possessed and that the same fear (of failure) will drive me on to the end. I add to that fear by telling people what I’m doing, by sharing my experience through social media with strangers; adding embarrassment to the fear. It’s only a race and it’s not life and death but it’s important to me. It makes me what I am. Good or bad. Pushing myself to do things I might fail at puts some perspective on life. 1 day as a lion rather than 1000 as a sheep. Let’s hope this lion doesn’t end up as a very wet sheep again!

I guess I’ll also think of my mum when it gets tough. We men get old, we just don’t grow up and still need our mothers! The last time I spoke to her was after the Yukon Arctic Ultra in Feb 2013; she followed me to the end on her iPad but we never saw each other again as cancer got her before I got home. Shame on you cancer. But I’m sure she’ll be looking down when it rains, urging me on. She’s been my life inspiration; never giving up, stubborn to the end, never stopped believing. Go son, she used to say, live your life. I guess I best do it then. Go for me. Go for her. Go for my girls.

Last year I did not give the Spine Race enough respect. This year I have. This year I will finish. With as big a smile and as often as I can muster one.


Live tracking at: live.thespinerace.com