I was so lucky to get to be a ghost runner for the Sparkin' Hood to Coast team. I only came back to running properly last year after a pretty emotional time in life where not a lot of positives had happened and on top of it all a foot injury.
I had 'reintroduced' myself to the many friends in Rookie Runners when & I can't exactly remember who, someone mentioned a race in Oregan that a bunch of Spark people were doing, then a suggestion came that they would have ghost runners. I was super excited about the idea, but was really uncertain whether or not I could run 3 times in 2 days. However I really like the idea of running 'with' someone who was so far away and taking part in a very different sort of challenge. I remember thinking that if it was me actually running the race and I knew that someone was rooting for me across the oceans it would definately keep me going. So I asked if I could join and was warmly welcomed into the team.
So over the months I trained and trained and trained and even though I was in Scotland and the rest of the team were in the USA & Canada, they never felt that far away.
For the Ghost run itself, I went to stay with my sister in a beautiful little village called appropriately enough, Dollar. The village sits in the Ochil Hills and I knew it would make the perfect setting for my 3 legs of the race and mimic as closely as possible climbs and decents of the legs of the real Hood to Coast. I was running with Cary and even though at times communication was sketchy due to cell phone/internet coverage I just knew she knew I was with her every step of the way. I had found little reflective Ghost badges in IKEA and had been able to send one out to most of the ghosts in time for the race, I had written Carys name on mine and stuck it on my shoulder for one of the legs, challenging her to pass me on the hills lol.
My first run was on the Friday evening as I headed up into the hills, the sun was setting, the rain had stopped and it was the most beautiful evening. The views across the hills were amazing and with the cows mooing encouragement I finished my first leg with a great big smile on my face. Like the real team in Oregan I had my 'support crew' (my husband Tom) and his 'van' (read mountain bike) with me all the way, hence the fantastic photographs. Back to my sisters and suitably refuelled I struggled to sleep knowing that I had to be up very early in the morning to run again.
The alarm clock seemed to go off just as I fell asleep, but 2 coffees later I was raring to go and ran as the sun rose through the trees along an old railway line track. The smells of the plants, flowers and grasses were clean and refreshing and once again the cows mooed encouragement as I ran past, they must have thought I was mad as I shouted out to Cary that we only had 1 more mile to go.
2nd leg finished and then it was feet up and catching up on all of the other ghosts progress, emails were flying about all over the place, it was hard to keep up, but exciting at the same time. There was an air of hustle and bustle and there was a lot of explaining to do when my neice appeared looking over my shoulder at a certain phtograph asking why 'that man wasn't freezing'. My nephew howled with laughter about it for the rest of the day. Seeing as one ghost had kept to his promise about his choice of running 'attire' I was glad I had brought my kilt with me. (I have taken part in several Moonwalks, a walking marathon for breast cancer charities, and last year we had mini kilts made to match our decorated bras, yes the walk is done through the night and showing off your bra! For all the world to see!)
Leg 3 I was most nervous about as the 1st 4 miles seemed to be all uphill, nevertheless run/walking pulled me through, that and the kilt I had put on keeping me warm (it's colder up there!) My neice had originally decided that she was going to keep me company on her bike, however, the lure of going out to play with her friends seemed more attractive as the hills became steeper and I was soon abandoned, I was just glad I didn't have to push her bike up the hill for much longer.
The run to the (my) finish was happy and sad at the same time as I raced Cary down the hill whooping all the way there were tears as I realised that my part in the Sparkin' Hood to Coast 2010 team was drawing to a close and I didn't want it to end. The whole experience was magical and exciting and daunting and scary and exhillerating all at the same time. Even know people ask me why on earth I would run a race with no supporters, no medal, no start line and no finish. I just tell them I DID have supporters, medals don't matter and that running isn't about starting and finishing it's about keeping going and being alive!
Congratulations to all the Hood to Coast and Ghost runners, when's the next one...