The 10th Sunrise to Sunset Challenge – 27.12.17

Race report – Stuart Sahan

So the 27th of December marked a 40th birthday celebration of none other than Kelli Sahan. I remember discussing possible birthday celebrations with her quite a few of months ago now and she had already decided she wanted to do an event on her birthday. In my none running days I would have thought that was a ridiculous idea. Fast-forward a couple of years I’m now thinking ‘wow that’s a great idea’.

For those not familiar with this event, it’s the other half of Sunset to Sunrise which we took part in back in early November. This race involved doing as many out and back stretches along the banks of the River Severn on the old disused railway between Ironbridge to Bridgenorth, running various distances in the dark with head torches between Sunset to Sunrise. Only the real hardcore or certifiably insane do the all nighter. Great medal which is always a bonus!

Anyway back to The 10th Sunrise to Sunset. On race day morning it was an early alarm call as sunrise was at 8:20am, so with it being just over an hours drive away we knew we had to get moving. I had a quick look out the window to see a good dusting of snow had fell overnight! Of course, thoughts of ‘are we going to be able to get out?’ and ‘hope there are no delays to make us late’ creep in. It was a bit slip-slidey getting out of Coventry and whilst driving on the A45 there was a tree branch in the middle of the road on the opposite side causing queuing traffic for a good distance. Fortunately this did not affect us and once on the motorway we had pretty much a clear run.

The event itself starts at the Shrewsbury Cycle Track in Sundorm and you run 1km laps of the track until you complete your preferred distance. The course itself is fairly flat but with a slight noticeable incline going up the back straight with a chilly headwind coming at you.

I was down for the full marathon and had decided earlier I’m not going for a PB as lets face it, two days after Christmas I did not feel in PB shape, plus having had a bit of a knee niggle I felt it best to not try and race and the keep to a conversational pace. There was a good Massey turn out with Elaine R, Katy J, Daniel C along with myself and Kelli. I found this really helped with a lap event as you were always seeing people you know at regular intervals.

Anyway we were doing ok just ticking the laps off one by one. But by around mile 10 I felt that self doubt creep in where I was saying to myself, just a parkrun to go and I’ll complete a half and call it a day. I think I saw Daniel at this point and told him my plan and his words of wisdom, or bullying,,,,,, call it what you will was to keep going. Again…… Round and round I went, occasional nod to other runners and words of encouragement followed by the occasional refreshment stop. Then I got to the half marathon point and saw Kelli who had around another 5 or so laps to complete her half. Decision time? Do I stop now and wait for her to finish getting cold in the meantime? Or do I carry on and see where we get?……….So I carried on, run walking and talking away with the wife as you do.

At around mile 15. I had the pleasure of bumping into Daniel C yet again who shouted over to me, ‘you’ve got to have covered at least a half marathon now. What mileage are you on?” My reply was around 15! His response was ‘well you’ve got to carry on and complete the full now. From that point on I realised I had passed the point of no return and with Daniel of all people noticing I was still out running and gone over the half distance, there was no place to hide.

Having ran in with Kelli for her to complete her race it was a run the flats and slight downhill and walk the slight incline. There was actually a handy strategically placed cone Daniel had noticed prior as being the start of the incline. From that point in it was a run/walk with Daniel and a few other friendly runners en route having a chat about pace and finishing strategies along with a bit of runners banter to boot. Was it a black dog t-shirt or a tiger? Sorry you would have to have been there to know what the hell I’m going on about.

All in all on a chilly windy December day it was a really nice friendly well-organized event as always with COD How Hard Can It Be Events. It was their 10th birthday as an events company so a double celebration birthday wise. I was really happy to finish and get the ‘other half’ of the series medal as having both of them sort of forms one, which is a nice unique feature.

Credit goes out to the marshals and helpers as with the cold and the brutal cutting wind at times must have been tough for them. I often say when the weather is harsh that it’s easier and more comfortable to run than to stand there being exposed to the elements. Absolute troopers! Respect!

Kelli said she had a very memorable birthday and I had ticked off marathon number 3 in a year. Quite remarkable for someone who was never doing a marathon, and after having done that little one in London back in April swore I would never do one again, ever, never, period, zilch chance! To play it safe now and save face I think my motto will be ‘never say never’.

What will marathon number 4 be?…………………………