Finishing before 10pm, having a warm shower, a good dinner and a sleep in a real bed can work wonders… It did! After a difficult day-8, Mike needed everything to click into place over the night to make day-9 manageable.
At breakfast, he confirmed it was the best night’s sleep for a long time and definitely the best night during the FKT.
It was a short drive to Aqueduct Beach where the previous day’s endeavors had finished (at 12km’s per hour!) Mike got rolling at 0722 with a pacer and along the way he picked up and lost pacers for the duration of his run.
Let’s be clear here, the Israeli run community are rallying around this FKT in a way that has never been seen before in this country. There is a buzz, an excitement going around. In one way or another, people want to be involved in history being made. I get it! In years to come, when stories are told about the crazy American guy who ran from the south to the north in ‘x’ days, they will be able to say, ‘I was there!’
Day 9 for me will be remembered as the ‘Green Tunnel’ day. Miles and miles of green provided a backdrop to the challenges the Mike and the pacers faced. Dense and overgrown sections of forest that had hidden markers and narrow path less than a body width. In the first two thirds, it was climbs, descents, mud and technical sections. It was no easy day!
As the day passed and the miles clicked by. It was clear to see that Mike was finding the heat and the endless terrain difficulty a challenge. I think it was frustration more than anything. Miles were meant to pass quickly today, be finished as early as possible and then rest and recover for the huge final push to get the FKT done. But the terrain was not playing ball. It was slowing Mike to a pace that could only lengthen the day and reduce recovery time. Zichron at 0923, then Offer 1150, Meaeot Creek at 1355 and then at 1600.
This last technical climb and descent coming at 1600 would finally see a gradual end to the days tough terrain and change to more runnable trail.
Mike was consuming many calories all day, he is really feeling the impact now of all the time and distance. He basically cannot eat enough to compensate for the losses. Sandwiches, Pringles, bars, the occasional gel, bread, avocado, egg, omelets – to be honest, providing it was vegan, he would pretty much eat it.
All the time, despite his fatigue, despite his aches, pains and despite his frustrations, Mike never lost his cool. He was composed, constantly chatting with his pacers and always giving thanks.
When he arrived at Isfiya at 1805, there was a change in him. The runnable terrain had woken the competitive edge inside him and the ability to run excited him. He was now clicking of the km’s. Yagur came at 1900 and with approximately 15km to go, a 10pm finish was on the cards.
For the final sections of the days trail, he had an entourage of runners, all keen to embrace an opportunity to say, ‘I was there!’ They left the final checkpoint at 2125, the final km’s of the day would soon pass and before long, Mike would be showering, eating and preparing to sleep.
As day-9 concludes. All eyes turn to day-10. We urge you all, come and find a moment, be it on Thursday or Friday, to run with, cheer, clap, smile or basically send a message to Mike to encourage him to his goal.
I have seen the depths Mike has gone to, to make history.
I have seen the pain, witnessed the smiles and the agony. I have captured the moments from morning to night in images and in the future, when someone says,
‘Do you remember that crazy American who ran from the south to the north of Israel in ‘x’ days?”
I will be able to reply, “I was there!”
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