A few weeks back I was out and about undertaking a recce of the Maverick Race Ultra route in Dorset, with fellow MTD athlete DP.
It was a glorious morning, sun shining brightly with blue skies and the odd fluffy white cloud above our heads. It was going to be a glorious day to tread some dirt, have a giggle, share some banter and put the world to rights.
It was one of those runs where a T-shirt and short shorts were the perfect items to wear. There wasn’t a single grey cloud in the sky and with a slight breeze, that was just enough to keep the sweat off the brow and running down into the eyes.
Whilst we were preparing our race packs, we got onto the discussion topic of kit and the items we carry or do not carry in our vests. This was rather an interesting topic for me and something that given my previous experience in the military, I always take as a given and pack the things I might need, just in case something unexpected occurs.
The ‘What if ‘ scenario.
For those who run long distance events, you will be familiar with the terminology “Mandatory Kit” This is the list of items that must be taken and carried for the duration of the race and is written within any pre race instruction. Failure to pack and carry the mandatory items can mean being disqualified if you get found out. But a more important factor is, should something happen and you get injured, you may well find yourself in a bit more trouble than you bargained for.
But this wasn’t an event, there were no race director rules to follow, we were only going to cover about 30km and it was a well trodden route. So why the need to carry a load of extra kit that wouldn’t / shouldn’t be needed.
Setting off, out of Corfe, we aimed for the coast line. For those that know this part of the world, it is a beautiful place to explore. But it is called the Jurassic Coast for a reason. It is not very flat and covered in rock and stone. Perfect ankle turning conditions, for a wrongly placed foot.
We were around six kilometres into our perfect Saturday morning adventure and whilst heading down hill and the opportunity to pick up the pace. I took my eye off the ball to check the watch and you’ve guessed it …. I turned my ankle.
Which subsequently meant, falling to the ground like a sack of potatoes being thrown from the back of a lorry.
DP ahead of me, suddenly stopped and came to my aide. After few moments and a choice of words not to be repeated were spoken. I was able to stand and put some weight on the foot and therefore in my mind I was able to continue…
We continued on our adventure, be it slowly for a few more kilometres, before the pain was starting to take the enjoyment out of the run.
Now, for the first time in all the trail runs I have done. I broke into my first aid kit to get some tape to strap up and secure my ankle.
This did the trick and I was able to continue all the way along the coast line, before climbing up warbarrow spout and the final leg straight back to car park at Corfe.
However with around 6km left to go, my pace had slowed down and DP seeing me struggle, offered to run ahead and get the car and come back and pick me up. Initially I was hesitant, but after having a chat to myself, this was the better option.
We both agreed the route DP should take and that I would slowly follow behind, making my way towards one of the car parks along the route as our RV.
And so off DP went.
It was now mid afternoon and whilst not raining, there were dark clouds above and that slight breeze I mentioned earlier was turning into a much stronger wind.
T-Shirt and short shorts were no longer the ideal clothing to be worn. As I walked / hobbled along the pathway towards the RV. I could feel my body temperature dropping to the point I was starting to shiver.
And so, for the second time in the same day, there was a requirement for me to break into my running vest and take out, an extra layer of clothing, a waterproof jacket, gloves and a hat.
I managed to get to the RV and waited around for a further twenty minutes before DP arrived to pick me up.
Clambering into DP’s nice warm car, I couldn’t thank him enough. Spirits lifted and we drove back to pick up my car and then after reassuring DP I was okay to drive (the beauty of an automatic), we went our separate ways once more.
Now whilst I was fine, I was thankful nothing was broken and all I suffered was some muscle damage, I was able to get out on the trails again in a relative short amount of time.
But I want to take you back to the twenty minute wait I had at the RV. First things first, it seemed a lot longer than it actually was. Secondly, there were people around and thirdly, I had the kit I needed to get me through the ordeal.
what if: I was unable to walk and needed emergency assistance. How long would that have taken to get to my location. This time i was with a running buddy, but how many times do we run alone? I was in an area with a phone signal, but this is not always the case!
What if: I hadn’t carried the first aid kit, to allow me to strap the ankle
What if: I hadn’t carried the extra layers of clothing and kit to keep me warm?
There are so many what ifs , and I am not here to judge others.
But whenever I go out on an adventure, I always ask myself the what ifs and then plan accordingly. Hopefully the time will never ever come that you have to put a ‘What if’ into action. But that time came for me and it stopped what was a relative minor situation, getting into something much more serious.