Mad Dogs and an English Man

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Quest:

TransRockies Quest 888 (Quest #8)

  • 6 months (May to October 2013)

  • 10 trail running, mountain biking, road running and road biking events

  • Completing over 888 race kilometres

At 6.45am on Sunday May 26th it was sunny in Calgary. This was great for approximately 13,000 runners who were there to take part in the 49th Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. But not for me. For the previous month, I had been training in full lacrosse gear and was hoping to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in the uniform. Despite this being a new record attempt, the administrators at Guinness had set me a sub four hour target and this was certainly not going to be a walk in the park.

With me at the start line was Blaine Penny and his MitoCanada team. They were going for a Guinness World Record themselves for the fastest marathon with 10 runners all linked together. They had to run a sub 2 hour 57 minutes.

To have my record verified by Guinness I had to have my whole run videoed, so Evan Weselake was my cameraman. He kept behind me, on a mountain bike, the whole time with a Go-Pro camera strapped to the handle bars. With one minute to go there was a huge crowd of full and half- marathoners behind us. Then Calgary's Mayor Nenshi started to count down: 5..4..3..2..1...and we were off.

I had a plan and I needed to stick to it. I would run to an aid station then take a drink of my water / nutrition mix. A key piece of technology that I had with me was my Helmet 4iiii's Sportiiii's. This little gizmo, attached to my helmet, would give me an audio heart rate and pace at two minute intervals. To achieve the record I would have to maintain a 5min 30sec per kilometre pace and keep my heart rate below 166 beats per minutes (bpm).

Things started off well and the kms ticked by. I got a number of comments from the spectators along the route: "Go hockey player", "Are you warm in the helmet?", "What the hell are you doing?", "Go Right To Play!", "You can do it Martin". My heart rate started off at 105 bpm but by km 15 had hit 161. Along the way, I was joined by two friends, Wayne and Ken, from the Cochrane Red Rocks Running Club. I have run many marathons with these guys and they really helped to keep me spirits up.

My first problem occurred around km 28. The sun was getting hotter and hotter and my heart rate hit 165. I was starting to feel some cramping in my legs, so I increased my electrolyte intake. I was still on pace but the heat was beginning to take its toll. By km 34 things were starting to go sideways. My heart rate hit 175 and I was getting light headed. Evan, Ken and Wayne were shouting encouragement and I concentrated on shutting out the pain. The next 4 kms were a blur. I kept my head up and shoulders back and tried to stay up with the runner in front of me. My head was cooking and my buddies were pouring water through the vents of my helmet.

At km 38 everything fell apart. My legs became rubber and started to spasm. My heart rate spiked at 190 and I finally dropped off a sub 4 hour pace. I jogged the next 3 km in a daze. The final 1 km I walked. With 300m to go I could hear the crowd cheering in the stadium. I turned into the final 150m stretch and with the cheers of the crowd started up a shuffle / run. I crossed the line and collapsed. Medics were there and fellow runner Ally helped me to the medical tent. They laid me down, wrapped me in a silver blanket and feed me apple juice.

I'm delighted to say that Blaine and his buddies achieved their goal and set a new record, raising $100,000 for their charity. Way to go guys.

My final time was 4 hours 18 minutes and 58 seconds. Not a Guinness World Record. Would I have liked to have achieved it? Of course but, on the day, it was not to be. I believe that all you can do is "Give it a go" and that's what I did. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Why did I try to set a Guinness World Record? Well, I was running for the children's charity Right To Play and in the end that's what really counts. Besides, there's always next year.

Quote of the Day

"The one thing that matters is the effort."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The finish line (photo by Neil Zeller)

The Finish line

 

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