It may have been 1100pm, but Pizza is what Mike craved and Pizza was our mission. Thank goodness for Google maps and the opportunity to find out what options are available close by. Of course, finding a vegan Pizza does makes things a little harder but we did it.
Mike was in his tent when we arrived at our stop camp, cozy tents all in a line and Erez at his 4×4 with a spread of food laid out. Pasta, salad, pancakes and more options. This is life on the road and working on an FKT.
A shower would have been nice, the last one was 3-days ago. But hey, we all smell as bad as each other. Day-7 had been a good day and we all went to sleep as soon as possible. I have to be honest, I was the first to climb in my sleeping bag, I was wasted!
Morning and our 5:45 alarm soon came. Breakfast was laid out for us, once again Erez excelling at camp life and life on the road. Without a doubt, Mike is feeling his runs now. It takes him a little longer to prepare in the morning. It’s understandable, very few people are able to do just 1-day of this FKT let alone string 10 of them together.
At 0725 the day started with several pacers, one in particular, Refael, had aced Mike in the desert and he was back for more.
The transition from the desert today achieved a new level, the arrival of Tel Aviv mixed city and trail together. This is what is so wonderful about the Israel National Trail, it is the variety that a runner or trekker can experience while travelling the length of the country.
Channel 5 News also joined us on the route today and did an impromptu interview midway through the run.
Green vegetation moved over for paths and roads. Trees were replaced by buildings and then the beach and the sea arrived. Today was truly a pot pourri of visual experiences that contrasted against the first 5-days of this FKT wonderfully.
Mike was joined by runners all day, at times, 20-people were with him. It was wonderful to see Mike chat, laugh and share the journey with so many. The miles clicked along despite muddy conditions early in the day. The sun came and at times it felt much hotter than the 25 degrees displayed on our watches. Mike is attentive to the heat and when possible, we supply ice to cool him.
He arrived at Tell Afek at 08:25, Tel Aviv beach 12:18, Hertzella Siri Beach 13:22 and then the wheels came off… At Poleg Beach (16:47) disaster almost struck. Mike was freezing cold as the wind whipped in off the sea. Wrapped in blankets, he could not get warm. Adding layers including two jackets and woolly hat also didn’t seem to help. He finally decided to move and left at a slow pace looking more like a polar explorer that a runner departing to set an FKT record.
Moving slowly with Refael by his side, he finally raised his core temperature and like Lazarus, he rose once again to start back jogging and then running.
The duo arrived at Bet Yani 19:20, picked up more pacers and then pushed on to Give Olga arriving 20:50.
The final push of 12km to Aqueduct Beach in Caesura would round out 105km for the day – he finished before 10pm.
Day-9 tomorrow and the plan will be to cover, once again, approximately 100km. It’s all about management now and getting Mike ready for the final day-10 push when it looks like he will travel approximately 100-miles.
I have witnessed many great runs and many great runners in my time as photo/ journalist. Mike on this FKT has continually blown my mind.
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