72k – second checkpoint
We dwell deep into the woods after 1hr+ drive and try to make sense out of a pin dropped one night before on my laptop, a not working Gmaps (no coverage) and a physical map Lazaros signed for him before the race. My pulse skyrockets as my brain passes through:
What if we miss the CP?
What if he passed already?
What if we will never find the CP?
What if we will be the sole responsible persons for his 3rd DNF in a row?
Could he turn PRO in DNFing? Is there even such a thing?
I keep these to myself. No need to alarm Maria, gotta seem like we have a clue of what we’re doing. We go up and down two mountain roads until we finally realize we’ve been there all along. Amateurs, he’d say.
Fotis comes in. His back hurts. I am not happy to see anyone in pain and I don’t take satisfaction in anyone’s suffering, it’s an awful sight to see. He decides to continue the race as his coach massages him with
a weird looking dildo Theragun massager.
Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake I say to myself as
Sun Tzu Napoleon said.
He comes in. He looks tired.
Can’t get the isotonic in he goes and I feel the world is trembling below my feet. Last time I heard that was in GC. DNF. Fuck.
There’s a special bond he shares with Maria of true, unaltered, romantic love. She empowers him and there’s a major gap between before and after they interact. Nice.
More ice. Ice down the pants, in his boxer shorts, in the pocket around the waist. Ice ice baby starts repeating in my head.
He grabs another can of coke and leaves. I follow him along for a couple of hundred meters as he gulps on the coke and to retrieve the can. He feels and looks good.
11min30s between him and Fotis but the race starts now.
We pack and leave. I start to wonder the time difference between him and the 3rd place but it should be 10min+ as he didn’t come in until we left. The online tracking system is a disaster to makes sense out of and both me and Maria settle on he’s far enough.
More driving, more jokes, more music I don’t understand from Maria’s playlist. The type of artists I’ve seen on the posters from Summer Well Festival but had no clue about them. I’m a good car companion, you let me drive my way, you’ll handle the music. We both mind our own business.
We start towards the last checkpoint and fatigue starts kicking in. I have no idea what time it is, how long he’s been racing, how long we’ve been up and when will it end. But I know we must keep our shit together. She keeps updating on his Facebook post, people don’t understand the reality of the race as he keeps switching between 2nd and 6th place. Again, fucked up tracking system, couldn’t understand shit from it. GSM coverage goes out again.
90k – 3rd CP
We have more than 1hr before his ETA once we got there.
I ask for a greek coffee from the only restaurant there and I fall asleep on a bench before I even get a chance to take a sip. My back hurts. I twist and turn in a weird state of being asleep and awaken by the pain caused by the bench. A few years ago I felt asleep in a train station for hours, what’s this pain I feel? After 10min of light sleep, I feel a little bit better. Maria kept going around looking for cell coverage. Poor signal, barely managed a refresh.
Fotis comes in. No support crew. He gulps down his throat some rice and he dips his cap into the water bucket. He looks fucking fresh. I don’t mean that in a he looked good considering he had 90k on board and more than 6000m of positive elevation way. No, I mean as if he switched bodies with an identical one and just started the race. Fotis CP time: 40s. Forty seconds.
Motherfucking motherfucker fuckery fuck fuck fuuuuuuuck! I go so that only Maria can barely hear me.
He comes in after 12min(…)sec. He looks tired. I try and lie to him that Fotis is this and Fotis is that hoping he can flip his hunter switch. He doesn’t seem to have much fight left inside and decides he’s not going to hunt him anymore.
It’s good enough he says and accepts his state of affairs.
You’re still the first to lose I go, trying to motivate him. But it’s hell and back to recover 12min so late into the race. We let the matters settle, no need to argue.
He takes deep breaths while trying to focus on being present even though he stares blindly into thin air. A couple of minutes pass and he gets up. The last stretch is coming.
The last stretch being 15k with 600m+ still to go. Not quite a walk in the (natural) park of Mount Olympus.
We gather whatever we had laying around, exchange some friendly talks with another support crew and try to put our money whether Robert will catch Fotis or not. They go with Hell, yeah! but I’m not so sure about that. I settle for a classic we’ll see.
It’s almost funny how organized and tidy we started this, from crackers in zip lock bags, sweet gels to the left, salty ones to the right, orange juice in this crate to water here in this transparent PET bottle, water with added salt in the other one and so on, now everything’s a giant mess: used towels covered in mud, used flasks with sticky tops, open gels that still had some left in and spilled out. Our trunk seems like the perfect representation of how you start an ultra and how you finish it. If you finish it after all.
It’s like getting your teeth whitened and then someone tosses a brick at your face but instead of dodging, you try and take a huge bite out of it.