'Barry 40' 2013

I'm back, after 15 long months of injury trouble! In November 2011, I was preparing to top off an outstanding season with a fast marathon in Sacramento, California. But 10 days before the race, I got injured in the left hip. I still don't know what caused the pain, but whatever it was, it kept returning over the next half year, keeping me away from the London Marathon and 100km WC/EC in Italy. Frustrating! In order to solve the hip problem, I started experimenting with different kinds of minimalist footwear. It has taken my feet and tendons a long time to adjust to these, even though I have been running in Nike Frees since 2005, long before the barefoot running craze started. Anyway, I was out of competition all of July with calf problems, got a stress fracture in August, and struggled with my Achilles tendon throughout. So to make a long story short, it has been a long and arduous journey to get to the start of the 'Barry 40', and I was full of doubt when the gun went off. Would my ankle last through 161 laps around the track?
Behind me (in yellow) is ultrarunning legend and two-time Spartathlon winner James Zarei (69 years old). Picture taken by Paul Stillman.
I took a defensive start and stayed safely behind 29 year old Scottish champion Grant Jeans (100km PB: 7h11'), with Englishman Paul Fernandez (2h32' marathon) following closely behind. It was freezing cold, which made life miserable for the 16 lap scorers (one for each runner) in the stands of the Barry Town FC stadium. They, in my opinion, were the true heroes of the day. My right Achilles tendon hurt quite badly in the beginning, but the pain disappeared when I took off my socks half an hour into the race. After completing the first 40 laps in 62', I decided to give Grant a hand in setting the tempo. Much to my surprise, he couldn't follow the pace. I lapped him half an hour later, and soon thereafter caught Paul Fernandez for a second time. It was too early to declare victory, but I was feeling surprisingly good. The second 40 laps also took me 62'. After two and a half hours, Grant Jeans unfortunately dropped out of the race, hopefully not because of the stress fracture that has troubled him during the second half of last year. Paul Fernandez was still going strong until 50km, when he slowed down and I lapped him another couple of times. The third 40 laps again took me exactly 62' and I was feeling more confident with every stride. The next half hour was my best of the entire race, and I was consistently running sub 1'30" laps. But then, with only 10 laps left to go, I suddenly felt dehydrated, cold and slightly dizzy. I decided to back off and allowed a revived Paul Fernandez to get one lap back on me. I finished in a decent 4h08'59", which was a pleasant surprise and a great relief. Amazingly, the fourth and final set of 40 laps ended up taking me exactly 62 minutes once again. Speaking of running at an even pace!
I'm the inaugural winner of the George Dayantis Memorial Trophy, which is named after three-times Barry 40 winner George Dayantis, who sadly passed away in June 2011. I ran the Boddington 50km race with George in 2009 and remember him vividly from the RRC vest which he was proudly wearing at the time.
I've still got a lot of work to do before I can think of improving my 2011 times. But finishing the Barry 40 in good style (and with no sore legs the following day!) makes me very hopeful for the future. I am proud to add my name to the illustrious list of 'Barry 40' winners, which includes legends of the sport Simon Pride, Martin Daykin, and race organiser Mick McGeoch, all of whom have finished the 40 miles in under 4 hours. Perhaps I'll give that a shot myself one day, if my body stays in one piece.

1 comment:

  1. Great to have you back, Pieter, and Grant will be back too.
    Hoping for some mild weather with no wind.
    Looking forward to meeting up.