The rain, mist and cold of yesterday did not disappear! To say we were disappointed is an underestimation. But Mike smiled regardless. “I slept so well, I feel fresh and I am ready to go!”
How does he do it?
Last night we were hosted by a family and we need to give a huge thanks to David and Mira for a wonderful meal, warm shower and a bed for the night, this gesture personifies our experience on our Israel National Trail adventure. We have received such warm support throughout our journey, it really is a great feeling.
Mike departed for a big day at 0629 with two pacers, Uri and Yarom, the latter would run the whole stage with Mike. A huge challenge and one that Mike really appreciated.
For the first 30km or so, conditions were a challenge. Intermittent rain, cold temperatures and grey mist made it feel very much like the UK. The red and warmth of the desert was soon a distant memory. Now trees, green and lots of mud would accompany the runners for day 6.
From 30km, Mike and Yarom pushed on alone and the duo were setting a solid pace. Zoli and myself wondered if it were not a little too fast? But the duo confirmed all was good.
The grey slowly disappeared, and patches of blue penetrated the grey mass above us. Slowly but surely the balance of the sky started to change and white was replaced with blue, the warmth of the sun a welcome return.
As in all previous days, food is an important element of a successful FKT run and Mike is pushing noodles, sandwiches and soup to a whole new level! Ice cream even made an appearance.
Today felt very different to the first 5-days. Not only because of the terrain but mostly due to the amount of support Mike received. Throughout the day runners joined him. At no point was he left alone. The boost this makes is remarkable, it allows Mike to ‘just’ run with the pressure of navigation taken on by a pacer.
From 50km. Mike picked up 3 additional runners, one of them ‘Yair’ aged 74yrs! He clicked off the miles with Mike and Yarom and made it look effortless. Yair finally left the duo to it and was replaced by 4 runners who had travelled from Jerusalem to run with Mike over the latter stages of the day in support #fktisrael – this FKT is becoming a ‘thing!’
For the support team. The previous days rain had caused endless problems making getting around the course extremely difficult. Standing water made certain sections of the trail difficult to pass and finally, Zoli and myself had to make a detour to miss a river crossing. It was a tricky time causing us to miss a checkpoint to provide support for Mike. We did the best we could to minimize the damage but of course, all the time, we were stressed that we were leaving Mike without the valuable support he needed.
Darkness soon came and Mike pushed on through the mud with the support of 5 runners, including Yarom. At ‘Beit Govrim’ he had completed 98km by 8pm. He took a longer break, changed socks, ate soup, noodles and multitude of other items and then left for another 12km.
Before 10pm, 110km had been completed in 15.5 hours.
Now the delicate balance of when to carry on and when not to carry on must be considered. To continue covers miles and leaves less distance for the overall target, but it also means less rest. Not enough rest and the pace the following day may well drop substantially.
Ask yourself, what would you do?
It’s a tough call.
Weighing up the pros and cons, it was decided that Mike would push on at 10pm from ‘Mitzpe Mesua’ for another 12km making for a daily total of 122km. Yes folks, 122km!
Think about it.
I have been saying all along that Mike is a machine, to be honest, I cannot find the words to express what Mike is achieving here in Israel.
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