We camped about 2-minutes from Mike’s day 4 finish. Several 4×4’s, small tents, a roaring fire, a BBQ, a few beers and the stars shining in the sky. What a way to end a tough and long day! It was 2130 when Mike finally came off the trail and nobody was asleep until 2330. That allows for approximately 5-hours sleep.
Running a ‘FKT’ is no easy task. The days are 24/7 and nobody switches off. Mike says he falls asleep with visions pf the ‘INT’ marker before his eyes.
Day 5 morning was cloudy, cold and windy. We were aware of some bad weather that would hit us during the day, and we were also aware of flash flood warnings, so, it was important for all of us to be alert.
Despite a tough day 4, Mike was on the trail just after 6am and was clicking off the miles. It was his last day in the desert and although there were some difficult sections to slow him down, it was nothing like what the first 4-days had thrown at him.
Word on the trail is getting out and now Mike is being met by more-and-more runners who are specifically coming out to cheer him on or run with him for a short while. We expect this to increase and increase over the latter five days as we move north and into more populated areas.
Today, the weather was the challenge. Constant gusting wind and very heavy rain showers. One shower in particular drenched Mike to the bone and he was pretty cold for a while. He eventually warmed up.
Despite the challenge, the conditions and the sleep deprivation, Mike is always positive. His determination and commitment blows my mind. His inner belief and strength are truly astonishing and confirms that only a select handful of people are capable of running such an epic challenge.
Having multiple pacers has helped Mike relax and switch off from worrying about finding the trail markers. It’s a huge relief for him.
As the hours passed throughout the day, so did the miles. Mike is like a machine. The only rest comes at our planned aid stops and here he rarely sits. Standing is preferable and today, his diet needs have changed. Hot soup, noodles and sandwiches have been a preference. I think the cold has impacted but also the previous 4-days. His body is now craving calories and he must keep putting them inside him.
Darkness soon came and Mike pushed into the night from ‘Arad’ with Chanan and David to ‘Del Arad’ (an ancient city within a national park). The rain poured down at times, the wind gusted and buffeted, and I thought aloud, “I do not know how he does this!
Del Arad marked 91km’s for the day.
Day 6 will mark a new chapter of the #FKTIsrael – we have now left the desert and move to new experiences and new scenery.
Running an FKT is all about management and efficiency. You need to tick off the miles, but you also need to rest, recover and look after yourself. The whole team is constantly making ‘on the go’ decisions to help Mike achieve his goal and also to protect Mike… When you have been running for 12, 14 or 16 hours, the runner is not always the best person to make a decision. Mike is very self-aware and understands the requirements he must place on himself to achieve his desired FKT. Day 5 or 6 are not the days to push over the edge, as a team, decisions will be made on day 7 on what is needed over the final couple of days. Mike is prepared for that and quite simply it may well come down to one or two very long days and then a big rest. As Mike says, ‘I can push because when it is done, it’s done!’
Mike has an incredibly positive mindset. The saying that ultra-running is 90% in the mind and 10% in the head is very true, especially on an FKT like this. But Mike’s physical ability and powers of recovery is blowing the minds of the whole crew supporting him.
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