That's my brother Stef (below left), our race manager and human riding crop, who kept an eye on our plans and racing targets. With his assistance, Alberto (right) and I agreed on a sub-9 target. Last year I managed 11.48 in a cow suit. My best time to date is a 10.09, so it was a nice chunk of a target. Especially as the longest we had run was the Ironman marathon.
Fast forward several hours, Alberto and I had systematically worked our way through the runners. We had managed to stick to a 6 minutes per k pace up to the 30k's to go mark. After losing 5 minutes to a loo stop, we started to pick up the pace gently. We intended to be at the 10k's to go mark with 60 minutes in the bag to make the sub 9 hour.
Aside from a cramp in my stomach, in the back of my neck, in my right armpit, in my right lat, in the crook of my arms, we were doing ok. Our moods were good but the pain was starting to build. If the race had been 60k's, that'd have been the perfect distance. But we still had 29k's to go. And in each kilometre time slowed down as the pain increased. It is an intense discomfort and the muscles start to whine and groan until they scream as though hot blades are being inserted into the flesh.
With 10k's to go, and muscles twisting around aching bones, we pushed for home. We had just under 50 minutes to get to the stadium. With a few big hills remaining, we banked some time on the downhills. We ignored our bodies' urges to stop and allowed gravity to take us into its painful embrace. The cramp that took out my brother was a nasty sniper-precisioned bullet which caught him between the glute and hamstring. We were at about 4m45s p.k. pace at the time and I lunged to stop him from toppling over. After some quiet deliberation, we threw in the towel on our sub-9 and limped home, thinking of how we could improve for next year. We crossed the line in 9.23.