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Race Day – Months in the Making

Months of training led up to race day on Sunday the 29th of September, breakfast had been eaten, nerves were rising and I was standing at the start line with thousands of other people ready to go! Everyone surged forwards slowly passing friends and family cheering them on excitedly. My mum, mother in law and her fiance all cheered me on as I passed them, slowly getting closer to the start line where my wife Rayssa shouted much needed words of encouragement while Cash our dog looked on panting with confusion. My good friend Callum kindly joined me and we set off over the start line, the tags hidden in our race bibs registering our start times.

It was fantastic running down the main promenade of the Victoria Embankment where I’d started my training months before, and wouldn’t leave until I overcame my fear of my blood sugar dropping too far from a public place where I could get help if needed. We left the main promenade as I had months before, leaving behind the fears and anxieties, settling into a steady pace and optimistically keeping an eye on the 2:15 pace setter.

I tested my blood sugar at the start of the race, returning a high 12.8mmol/L which would usually be uncomfortable with normal levels being somewhere between 4-7. within the first three and five miles we ascended roughly 80 metres, feeling as if we’d scaled Nottingham Castle’s walls! I tested my sugars again after Castle Hill to find they were at 6mmol/L and dropping, rapidly. I ate a banana on the run which was a challenge to keep down, partly from running, but also as I was nervous of my quickly falling blood sugar. We passed through Nottingham University and headed towards Wollaton Hall while I ate an energy gel sachet, gross. I would’ve liked to enjoy Wollaton more, but, my blood sugar had dropped even further into dangerous levels at 3.9mmol/L. Callum and I slowed to a walk, him concerned, I determined. I forced down another energy gel sachet and my body up another hill which thankfully wasn’t hiding more.

With my body thanking me for the much needed sugar, caffeine hit, and the associated adrenaline rush that comes with a low, we powered on halfway through the course with my blood sugar rising with the pace! I managed a biscuit while running back through the university, much appreciating boosts from the roadside high fives, cheers, and the Super Mario Mushroom power up posters. As my blood sugar stabilised I was able to enjoy more of the atmosphere again, especially as we were in the last half.

While the miles slowly disappeared under our feet, my energy levels seemed to slip away too. without the constant encouragement of other runners, some inspirational wheelchair users, Callum’s continued support, alongside the knowledge that I was doing this to aid DHM, I wouldn’t have been able to keep plodding on. I passed the 11 miles marker in pain, but determined to keep up with the 2:20 pace setter, doing so until I was forced to walk by a mild cramp. Still determined to beat 2:25 I lumbered on passing the 12 mile marker with the 2:20 pace setter still in sight. Growing crowds urged us on as we turned back onto the Victoria Embankment, concentrating only on finishing, we turned onto the final stretch lined with people congratulating us over the finish line as the final sensor registered our finish times.

I finished with an official time of 2:22:41 beating my target of 2:30:00 which isn’t the fastest, but I’m more than happy. I collected my medal and then slumped into my wife’s supportive embrace, we then stumbled home to a lovely Brazilian meal that she had prepared.

I’m thrilled to have completed the race and to have had the opportunity to raise awareness for DHM’s efforts in this way. If you’ve enjoyed these blogs and feel so inclined to donate, then please do! DHM do great work providing care and hope for those in Eastern Ukraine who face serious adversity.

If you would like to donate, please do so on my campaign page, or alternatively without PayPal here, and again thank you.


Gareth Hoyland