Shankara Smith, co-organiser and scoreboard official, describes the race.
For the first time I was able to attend the race from the start. Usually I work at Run and Become during the day and then go on to the race to do the midnight to midday counting shift. But this time I was lucky.
It was interesting to see how the race started easily with a low key atmosphere and then, as darkness descended, became more intense and electric. It was as if with the challenge of running through the night came an extra strength and energy. At this time the rest of the world ceases to exist and its just the runners, counters and helpers and together they create this amazing atmosphere. I always feel it as soon as I arrive at the track in the evening after work and found myself a little surprised in the first few hours because it wasn't there. Then I realised it only comes when it is needed. Ultras are really unlike any other races. The competition is between the runner and the distance not the individual competitors. A successful 24 hour race depends on everyone working together: the lap counters have to communicate with the runners and offer support, encouragement (and accurate lap recording!); the runners support each other and it is not uncommon to see pairs going round together in the middle of the night, keeping each other awake and entertained. Then the helpers and track side refreshment team need to offer not only food and drink but smiles and cheers.
This year my job was score board. It took me about 20mins each hour to update the score board so that the runners could see how far they had gone. Then the rest of the hour was free, so I could check out how things were going in the counting area, chat to the refreshment people, or just watch the runners (quite hypnotic, you can do it for hours!). I got to see the runners like Tarit Stott, digging deep down to find the power to get back on the track after injury threatened muscles or stomach upsets had taken them into the warmth of the medical room. And at about 6.30am we were all rewarded for night of no sleep with the most beautiful sunrise, I have never seen a sky painted so beautifully in pink and blue. Then before I knew it we had reached 24 hours and the race was done for another year.
I have never run a 24 Hour race but I have helped at many over the years and each time the race draws to an end, I feel such happiness and pride in the runners. I may not have run a step but I have been part of the support group and feel I can fully share in the runners' achievements. Its a case of real oneness. Its then that I appreciate why Sri Chinmoy puts such emphasis on these long races. Not only do people transcend their limitations but everyone involved works together and created an atmosphere of enthusiasm, support and respect. All things that this world needs more of right now.
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The Counter's Tale
The 24 Hour Race: A counter's perspective by Bhasini and Arpita of the Sri Chinmoy AC
After a hard day's work in a specialist running shop on the busiest day of the week all you want to do is go home to bed. On a recent Saturday, however, that was not an option. It was the annual Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race at Tooting Bec track and I was counting the runners for the 2nd shift - midnight Saturday to midday Sunday.
After a brief stop at home to shower and put on all the warm clothes I possess, I headed to the racetrack. As I approached I could see the floodlights through the trees illuminating the unique scene on the track. By then, the runners had been going for nearly 10 hours. Some had dropped already, some looked like they were about to and the rest were resolutely plodding on. Relieving the weary day shift counters, I took my place beside my cheery night shift companions, all of whom had also finished a busy day at work. And so the counting began.
Concentration is essential. You can laugh, joke and sing with the other counters but just don't miss your runners. It also helps if you're not too mathematically challenged as calculating multiple lap splits at 4 am can get a little tricky. I made it my aim not to miss my runners even once even though at times they tried to fool me by changing clothes or putting on a hat. Their favourite trick was to come round in exactly double their normal lap split. For example, if they were doing steady 3.30 minute laps, they would occasionally throw in a 7 minute lap just to make me think I'd missed a lap. The excuses were normally something like "I had to change my shoes" or "I was getting something to eat". Once when I shouted "Where have you been?" I got the reply "None of your business!"
And so the night went on. In spite of our regular repetitions of "It's getting light now", "Don't you think it's lighter than it was before?" and "I think it's getting lighter", it remained dark for a very long time. When the dawn eventually came it was magnificent. Striking pink and orange. Suswara (chief lap counter) announced to the counting shed "You can't see it but there's a beautiful sunrise happening behind you" and then panicked as we ran out to watch it, leaving 30 or so runners unattended. (We were back at our posts within seconds - we're professionals after all).
When my fellow night shift counters started to be replaced so they could grab a few hours well-earned rest, I found I was too wired to follow them. Either the inspiration of watching all those runners pushing back the barriers was keeping me awake or it was the coffee, tea, chocolate, sandwiches and biscuits I'd been consuming all night. I was also much too attached to the runners I was counting to even dream of letting someone else take over. I'd been with them this far and I was going to stay with them until the bitter end.
My female runner reached the 100 mile mark and my male runner reached the 100 km mark at exactly the same time. It was a beautiful thing. But for me perhaps the most beautiful moment of the whole event was at 8 am on Sunday morning, when a Starbucks Grande Americano materialised on the table before me. Sahadeva, patron saint of coffee drinkers was responsible, and I offer him my everlasting gratitude.
Finally at midday the gun was fired to signify the end of the race and we all stood to applaud the runners heroic achievements, many of us with tears in our eyes. Physically and emotionally exhausted they thanked us for counting them and we praised their courage and determination. Happiness, gratitude and satisfaction were the prevailing emotions at the award ceremony.
The winner of the women's race turned 63 that day and when we gave her a cake she said, "This is the best birthday I've ever had."
There is a runner who we call "Smiler" because at previous 24 hour races he smiles throughout. And this race was no exception. After the event, looking through the many photos that had been taken, I couldn't find a single shot of him with anything other than a huge smile on his face.
When I left the track that Sunday I was smiling just like him. In the words of Sri Chinmoy, the founder of the event:
Runners are smilers, runners
Theirs are the victory banners
Runners are smilers, runners
A new world builders
Arpita's reflections on just being a helper:
As far as challenges go, running round a 400 metre track for 24 hours must rate amongst the toughest. Unfortunately, this particular running experience is not for me, but I play my small part by helping out in any way I can.
Having worked the usual busy Saturday at Run and Become in Edinburgh, I flew down to Heathrow, endured the hot and stuffy London tube to arrive at Tooting Bec track around 9pm. The race started at 12 noon. It's such a sharp contrast between the hectic rush of the day and arriving at the track.
The patter of runners' feet as they run lap, after lap, after lap, after lap, after lap creates an oasis of calm. Not what you would expect from such a gruelling race, and make no mistake, these runners are all pushing themselves well beyond the comfort zone. However, the oneness between the runners and helpers all working towards the same goal: to create the perfect race for each runner, really gives this race its unique atmosphere.
Runners include the immortal Don Ritchie, the amazingly sprightly 71 year old Geoff Oliver and the ever cheerful poised Dan Coffey (73 years old) and Peter Zuidema, from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team, Holland. The women include the again immortal Hilary Walker as well as Jill Green (63 years old) Susan Clements and Helga Backhaus from Berlin who chat away while they run effortlessly round the track. It seems a pity to select some runners and not others because each runner has their own story and their own inspiration, but I do so only because some of these runners are familiar to me from previous years and others definitely deserve a mention.
My husband, Tarit Adrian Stott definitely deserves a big mention from me as I know the time and commitment, which he gives to his running but this year he wasn't at his fittest and had just come to see what he can do! Famous last words from a competitive ultra runner! He managed 100 miles, which in the circumstances was great. He would probably say otherwise!
Behind the scenes the calm efficiency of Ongkar Tony Smith, the race organiser; the encouraging cheerfulness of the counting crew; the caring service of the refreshment crew all combine to make a flawless race. No ultra would be complete without a timekeeper and a statistician and Don Turner as usual worked selflessly behind the scenes to provide his customary excellent services. Also Ian Champion, the Race Referee, with tireless perfection ensured that as runners reached their 100 miles (a significant goal in any 24 hour race) they were recorded.
This race is truly legendary and definitely leaves you inspired to train more for whatever your particular goal is, whether it's two miles or "beyond the marathon".
Thanks to Dan who has penned this excellent report on a memorable race.
Sri Chinmoy A.C. Self Transcendence 24 Hour Race 2003 (11&12 October)
Dan Coffey, ultrarunner & much valued friend of the Sri Chinmoy AC.
This was a continuation of the race last held in 2000, cancelled in 2001 due to 9/11; the following year postponed to allow the 100 mile track race to honour Don Ritchie's world mark of so many years ago - 25 I believe!
This race was first held at New River Stadium, North London for two years before being moved to Copthal Stadium where Don Ritchie ran an astonising 166 miles; then moved to Kingsmeadow Stadium, Kingston where the recording marshall's tent was blown away in very windy conditions; moved to Tooting Bec where it has been held ever since; it might be worth remembering that on the last occasion it rained for the first 23 hours of this event. What would this year bring? I was mulling over these thoughts as I sat lost in the one way raffic system at Streatham with just under an hour and a half to go and still wondering whether there was any truth in the magnificent write up in Runners World re the Hull 24 hour event in July that that was the only 24 hour race being promoted in the UK this year.
However I had total faith in Ongkar Tony Smith, Race Director, who had invited me; he surely would not have left me lost in a one way system if there was no race as erroneously reported! Finally I extricated myself from the system and promptly got lost again; now reslved that I would only stick to the track as I could only go two ways without mch chance of getting lost. I comforted myself with the knowledge that I had packed a silva compass in case I got in trouble on the track, at least I would be able to spot magnetic north and work it out from there! At last I arrived at the track and parked my trusty steed then prepared myself for the coming onslaught; was greeted by many very fit and young looking competitors including the President of the RRC Don Ritchie MBE. I asked him how he would go and he replied that he would be taking it easy as he was getteing on; I believed him, what a mistake!
Also spoke to David Green about whether numbers were required front and back - he was not sure as this was his first atempt at this kind of race. Fortunately Ongkar had arranged a short but informative briefing about half an hour before the start which answered most of my questions as every race is different. After a week of windy weather I was certain that it would be a continuation of the same but Ongkar Tony Smith had promised good weather and he was a person who kept his word. There was no wind on the Saturday just bright sunshine and warm too; this could not last. It did not, as the night became cold, damp towards dawn, and the night seemed to go on for a very long time. The birds got up at dawn, sang their songs and prmptly went back to bed but finally a new day dawned, the Sun finaly got up, so did the wind and a chill breeze but we wereon the way home by then and nothing could stop us!
Noon arrived and it was all over yet again; if only I had had a few more hours what I could have achieved: at least another mile!
Firstly the lap counters, I had only two, to my knowledge, for the whole time and I had total confidence in them and remembered to thank them. This is the most arduous of tasks as one has to be always alert and polite to a runner who is tired and does not know whether they have been noticed or not. Then those good folk who work behind the scenes preparing hot food and having it available almost at the drop of a hat with a welcoming smile. The magnificent support staff who supplied me with endless cups of tea when I could not digest anything. PS I must remember to get the recipe for bean bake, it smelled so appetising and I was able to manage tw spoonfuls of an excellent meal (I did not waste any as Ken Shaw, Father of the 24 hours event who had turned up to lok after me was able to finish it up and still give very vocal support to all the other runners).
The handlers for the other runners who were always available to urge one on as you passed their "patch" - always the word of encouragement even though one did not know them and this went on for every hour of the race. If you have never done an ultra then this is where you will find true comradeship, friendship and real honesty. Lastly but not the least, mention must be made of the Race Director who updated the leader board every hour and organised the four hour turnround with the help of the race referee Ian Champion, RRC, who kept a very sensible eye on the event the whole time. Finaly the official timekeeper Don Turner, also RRC, who with his assistant made sure that the clock was always running and ensured all the intermediate distances including the most important 100 miles times for the fortunate ten runners rigtht up to the end, and then measured all the final bits of laps around the track for the last minute or so.
The Reader might be forgiven at this stage for wondering what the runners, walkers and shufflers were doing all this time so now I will finish with a resume of activities on the track. The RAce Before the first four hour change of direction it was apparent that Don Ritchie and eof Oliver were not out for an afternoon stroll, with Garth Peterson who believe3 was third in the earlier Hul event they were establishing their credenials. All comparatively young runners, Gath (RRC) 40, Don (Moray R) 59 and Geoff (100 Km Association) a mere 70! Several other runners were to feature in the final analysis including Brian King and Timothy Rayney who bided their time.
Just in case the reader thought that this was a Man's race I must draw your attention to Sandra Brown (Surrey Walkers Club) who walked the whole way and topped 100 miles yet again. She has now done well over 100 24 hour events so is just getting the hang of this event (a few weeks earlier achieved her best position ever in the classic Paris to Roubaix walk, finishing in 6th place!). Also Jane Janman (RRC) another Hull contender who quietly just gets on with it. There were so many individuals who achieved their own greatness whom I should mention but if I do
I will undoubtedly miss out someone who quietly achieved their own personal target and should have got a mention; suffice to say that to me it was an honour to be permitted to take part in such an epic adventure of courage and for some delving into the realms of the unknown. This is why it is called the (Self Transcendence Event). One thinks that it could be possible and then allows the body and mind to prove that it is really possible to achieve. There is a truly magnificent feeling afterwards of achievement.
Of course one hurts both during and after the event but this fades into insignificance on a personal result. Consider Don Ritchie who looked to be on course for somehting fantastiv yet had problems with his feet but still won the event with 117 miles plus. Consider Geoff Oliver who set a new world best for 100km for an over 70 year youngster with 11 hours 02 minutes 02 seconds and then went on to set a 12 hour world age best; I do not know what other records he broke on the way but it must be quite a few! He finally finished up 6th with a distance of nearly 106 miles.
Consider Tadeusz Syty cannot speak a word of English (from Poland) yet achieved an impossible 100 miles when it looked impossible; this was his third Sri Chinmoy race and his third 100 in this event! I will stop here as he was the last century maker in tenth place but this does not in any way belittle the achievements of all who competed and I apologise to all those not mentioned; you were carefully noted by one who now moves with the grace of an ancient sailing ship, becalmed, because I cannot go any faster.
Once again on behalf of all the competitors very grateful thanks to those magnificent folk who gave of their time and talents to enable us to participate in the sport that we love .......and this also includes the Physios, who were available to help when desperately needed.
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Giant's Tooth Fell Race 2006
The Giant's Tooth is a great way to start the new year. It's a 3-mile race with 400ft of ascent, around Ogden Water reservoir and all off-road - a class C fell race.
It was a beautiful day, fairly clear and cold. There were big grey clouds in the sky as we drove towards Halifax, but above the race area the sky was blue. We left nice and early, but in the end it was touch and go whether we would make it because we got stuck behind a tractor.
Make it we did however, and mid-day saw us lined up at the start with our numbers pinned on, and plenty of nerves all round as for 3 of the 4 of us this was our first fell race.
The terrain was mostly not too rough underfoot , but the ascents certainly were steep. Heavy rainfall the day before made the downhills especially nice and slidy!
The course is very well marked with plenty of marshalls who were all unfailingly encouraging and enthusiastic. The last one tried to comfort me with the news that the steep slope ahead was the last uphill before the finish but I was too zoned out by that point to understand what she said, so I was somewhat surprised to turn a corner at the top and see the finish ahead of me. I'd been convinced that there must be about another mile to go! I really must get into the habit of looking at the course route beforehand!
Prizegiving was in the pub at the end of the lane, with chip butties to keep us going until all the results were in. It turned out to be a good day for the Sri Chinmoy AC women's team - Amelia was second lady, Bhauliya was first lady V40, Nurari got a spot prize, plus we won the lady's team prize. Here is a photo of the girls with their haul (I am behind the camera).
Aside from the prizes, one of the best features of the race was the friendliness of the locals. We'd all enjoyed it and said we'd try and come back next year. "Why not next week?" was the reply.
A group of us from Run and Become had been working hard at the Marathon Expo, and we opted to run the relay rather than attempt the full 26.2! Our aim was just to beat Dhavala's solo effort in London of 3.14, which we did, by around ten minutes. The Edinburgh Marathon site has a few thumbnail pics of us so here they are (full versions will be less fuzzy but you have to pay for them:)
Amelia ran the anchor leg of the marathon- on finishing she was presented with not one but 5 medals but she graciously agreed to share these with the rest of the team.
Overall the Sri Chinmoy AC team came 18th out of over a hundred entries and also set a new club record for the event by beating Hyamallar's all-boy team, but we have agreed not to mention that in this report.
Our total time was 3:06 and we placed 18th in the team relay (though some confusion at the start means there is a question mark over those results - I'm sure not all the teams started at the same time!)
The legs were:
ROGER Princes' St. - Victoria Pk - 7.7 miles 50:46
BHAULIYA Victoria Pk - Marine Dv, Silverknowes - 4.2 miles 32:58
SHYAMALA Marine Dv, Silverknowes - Ocean Terminal - 5.6 miles ??:??
DHAVALA Ocean Terminal - Portobello Beach, Kings Rd - 3.5 miles ??:??
AMELIA Portobello Beach, Kings Rd - Holyrood Park 5.2 miles ??:??
Agnes from the Sri Chinmoy AC in Edinburgh recalls the amazing journey of her first Ironman Triathlon - completed in the debilitating heat and humidity of Malaysia!
"Taper, taper taper." I recalled Tarit's advice. Do you the meaning of the word taper? Rest for 3 weeks before the race. Believe me, your body will be grateful to you!
Here I am on the day before the race, muscles soft like a jelly. Where did all the countless hours of training disappear? I could not feel even one moment of the hard work in my legs any more. I guess the regular massage, healthy nutrition, Megabhuti's liver cleansing once a month, and a taper did the trick. My longest training ride was very easy - forty three miles along the race course on Sunday a week before the race. The beauty of the nature was stunning. Sandy beaches, Malay villages, palm trees, small islands, I was really lucky to be here in this heaven for more than two weeks with plenty of time to acclimatise and relax. Luckily for me, no big hills this year! The bike course has been changed. On Friday two days before the race, Andreas from Switzerland, Robert from Czech Republic, Linda from Hungary and myself moved to Kuah nearer the race start. I left behind my dear room-mate Julia from Oxford, who was very patiently sharing a room with me, my bike, and all the race gear which was lying just about everywhere.
After Neil almost crashed into me on the bike during the Portobello Sprint Triathlon, because I could not see him from my pony tail, I knew the biggest and only sacrifice had to be done - I had to cut my long hair for safety reasons. Julia was happy to do that.
So finally I was ready for the start. That day I was hundred percent sure that this race was nothing to do with me, but was 99% God's grace and 1% help from all my dear friends and family who coached, massaged, advised and encouraged me and who fixed my bike! All the credit goes to them.
As the party was on Friday afternoon I did not feel like going anywhere. Finally after Robert's third phone call I made it out from my room. Linda, Robert and myself arrived at the pasta party - once there I was really grateful for this. It was so inspiring to chat with all these great athletes. First we met Roger Price from Houston - it was his 27th Ironman. Diane and Debbie were excitement for my first race - we all exchanged really nice and kind words of encouragement during the race.
Next day. Finally we ended up at the same table as Zsuzsanna Harsanyi, Petr Vabrousek and famous Jason Shortis. Zsuzsanna is a Hungarian professional. She was second, her time 10:16:24. She is sweeter than the sweetest. And none of the photos is doing her any justice. She is much, much nicer. We spent hours together chatting about everything. Petr is a Czech professional. He was fourth in a time of 9:00:06. He is also extremely kind. He stopped during the race to asked a Danish guy who was struggling if he was ok. A real sportsman. We were all totally impressed by Jason - he was first in 8:36:33. He was racing at our Sri Chinmoy Triathlon Festival in Australia (He is Australian). Eventually all of them were holding the torch, smiling for the photos, it was a great evening.
The day before the race we had the bus tour on the course, the race briefing, and the bike and gear check-in. I managed to get myself together and concentrate on sorting out my stuff, and not forgetting anything from my cycling and running kit. I was a bit nervous but not for long. We went for a nice meal with Linda, who decided to stay longer and help on the race. That was absolutely terrific. While Linda was trying to get some bananas for me from the night market, I went to the race info once again - I was feeling OK. I read the "Spiritual meaning of the Triathlon" by Sri Chinmoy and a card from my dear friend Alison (Ironman New Zealand finisher) before I went to bed. Alison's message: "All this time training and waiting and now the moment is near. Put your foot on the accelarator and get into third gear. Good luck in Langkawi. Put all your training to good use. But most of all enjoy the experience, you will love it."
The Ironman Langkawi begins with a two lap swim in Kuah bay, which starts and finishes alongside a giant eagle statue. The three-loop bike course is fairly flat and is followed by the four lap run course. Total swim distance is 2.4 miles followed with bike ride of 112 miles and finished with a 26.2 mile marathon run.
Dawn. No thoughts. No feelings. No emotions. I just exist. I knew I am where I am supposed to be doing what I am supposed to do. First time in my life, I really trained for a race and I could feel why Sri Chinmoy puts such an emphasis on importance of physical fitness. I experience how does it feel being surrounded with healthy, fit bodies, focussed minds and determined vitals. It was an overwhelming, pure and powerful energy. I was all gratitude for the privilege to make it to the start line. All of us, the pros and the newcomers, had the same goal - to transcend our own limitations. The goal of Self-Transcendence.
Three hundred athletes from thirty six countries started together in the warm waters of the jetty. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed the swim. I had time to bask in the sunshine and send my greetings to Surya the Sun-God who would accompany me today, the whole day long. Well my first shocking experience was when after the second helf point turn I noticed that I needed 47 minutes for one quarter of the loop. God, I won't make it within the cut-off! I will have to stop the race! Cut-off time for the swim was two hours tenty minutes. In a pool my time was tragic, very slow, 1:36. Probably the current was the reason for my even slower swim in the open water. I was paddling as fast as I could. The way back took only 17 minutes with the help of the current. I was out in four hours three minutes, and very happy that the first task was over. I was still in the game.
Finally on my bike, everything went along very well in the first lap. I was fascinated with Chris Lieto's speed - Bryan Rhodes and Jason were far behind him on the bike. Rebecca Preston was the first girl - it was amazing to watch the pros in action. I saw Robert who was going very fast - Andreas was enjoying himself, smiling and asking how am I, it was nice to get some extra encouragement.
The disaster struck in the second lap - there was no water at the aid stations - my mind was in a state of complete panic. On the next aid station I wasked for water, they said "it's water". Great! Relieved. I poured so called water on my head - it was an energy drink. My hair, glasses, jersey, bike, everything was sticky. I would need to pedal for five or six more hours in 40 degrees heat without water. On top of all this my gear shifter refused to move. LAter on Sean in the bike shop told me that the cable probably got stuck. I felt totally helpless. The ambulance was passing with the fastest speed past me with the sirens on. I saw a few athletes lying on the grass. My body was fine but I started feeling dizzy from heat and lack of water. Suddenly I remembered Scott Balfour's advice - "stay calm whatever happens" - so I kept on repeating this. I was so grateful to him for all the advice, coaching, inspiration. He did Kone and other Ironmans - he's world champion in his agegroup, and Scott shared his top secrets with me - "stay calm whatever happens".
A few tears were rolling down my cheeks when I reached the Kali Temple - Kali is my favourite Goddess. I prayed to her, "Mother..... please don't let me die here, please save me". Mother Kali listened to my prayers - from that moment on my gearshift was working. then we had water at all the water stations.
I was pacing myself on 14 miles per hour on the bike, so finally I finished the bike just before the cut off time in 10 hours 24 minutes. Cutoff was 10 hours 30 minutes. I was delighted that I could walk after more than eight hours in the saddle. At this moment I knew I would finish - I had six and a half hours for the marathon. One and a half hours each lap and thats it. I changed slowly , realising that my legs and arms were completely sunburnt. I guess the girls did not put enough sunblock on me after the swim. Soon I had a high fever, but kept on running. I did not want to end up in medical in case they told me to stop. I was so happy to see the others who were struggling on the run - some of them were already finishing. It was just great to have all these people running there on the running loop. I was just copying others - they all had ice cold sponges on their neck, chest, shoulders - so I soon looked like a body builder with all the sponges under my jersey. I was soaked but still I felt I had a really high fever. I started getting well-known muscle pain in my quads. Bioplasma, arnica and energy gels; I stuffed all these in my face with hope to get over it. And then I remember the verse from Sri Chinmoy's triathlon song - "I run with the smile of the beyond" - the whole song is:
"I love my great triathlon, it shows my heart-gold-vision-dawn, I swim in the sea of silver light, I cycle along the road of gold delight, I run with the smile of the beyond, my inner cry God-treasure-diamond"
So I started smiling even more, I started chatting with everybody. In the fourth, final leg I had my own team - we were all running together it was just great. How I wished that everybody would finish.
I had the greatest cheering crew - many Hungarians like Linda stayed over in Langkawi: Piroska, Tamas, Andrea, Jozsi, Laci and the Ironman finishers Andreas from Switzerland and others who waited for me at the end.
Just before the finish, Linda gave me the Harmony Torch (see www.worldharmonyrun.org - Ed.) it was great to run with the torch through all the crowd, it was so beautiful. The flame was really nice, big, and you could really see the flame from far away in the dark night. I was just so happy. A few athletes came to me after the race and thanked me for the moral support. I felt really honestly privileged to be a member of the new world - the world of Ironman and Ironwoman. People with iron bodies, oneness hearts, sweet smiles.
My family had a most exciting day, waiting for the news, results and pictures on the web site. They were all so happy to see me smiling in the first picture of the second bike lap. My mum wrote: "Daughter, you know very well that I don't fancy all these stupid races, but this was really something special, I am really proud of you."
I would never even make it to the start without the help and inspiration of all these people. Tom Chambers, representing GB in Olympic Distance Triathlons, was one of those who gave me the starting kick. At that time, in the months after my dearest cousin's passing, I didn't want to run or swim, didn't even dare to buy a bike, and at that time one day he came to the shop and reminded me that I said at the beginning of January that I would like to do a triathlon. He said "I bought three pairs of shoes - and you didn't do any triathlon?". So at that moment something just clicked in me - I knew that I had to do something with my life and I knew that Milan (my cousin) would be proud. The very same day I bought a trainging diary and the very same night I wrote my training schedule and on Monday I bought my bike and this is how I started - very, very, slowly and steadily - crawled - all the way to the finish line in Langkawi!
Thanks to you all without whom this dream would never come true, and most importantly gratitude to my teacher Sri Chinmoy for his blessing and his smile - full of joy and pride.
Agnes finished the Langkawi International Ironman Triathlon in a time of 16 hours 28 minutes, the cut-off time was 17 hours.