DAY 7 (FINAL DAY!) – MATT

After an incredible meal in Siem Reap and enjoying the afternoon in the luxury of the Sofitel it was off to bed and the alarm was set for 3.55am for the Angkor Wat Half Marathon.

As the Cambodian Prime Minister was holding a ceremonial blessing at Angkor Wat, the route had been changed to an out and back which I was secretly pretty happy with.

We jumped in our tuk tuk and got to the start line pretty early. Luckily we could go into the Manulife hospitality tent on the start/finish line to relax and have a coffee and get something to eat. It also meant that Kirsty and Erin had somewhere to base themselves during the race while waiting for us.

Just before the scheduled start time of 6 am, we headed down to the starting line, it was great to meet up with all the TGF team who were running as well and we chatted to them as the start was delayed due to traffic issues and the ‘opening ceremony’ dragged on.

I really had no time goal or expectation, after 300km in the previous 6 days I had no idea how my legs would feel if they were pushed. To be honest, I just wanted it to all be over!

As the gun went off, the usual jostling for position started and I want to get clear of the crowds so went out pretty quickly. Before too long I saw the 1km sign and the field has spread nicely. The route was shaded and there were kids lining the sides asking for ‘high fives’ as we went past. This kept me occupied and going at a pretty decent pace for the first 5km. I then started to feel my legs, mentally I told myself to get to the turning point at 10.55km, then it was just a hop skip and a jump all the way home.

As I turned, I was definitely feeling it, not even thinking about my time I had no idea how long it took me to get to halfway but the next few kilometres were spent looking for people coming the other way. First I saw Ferg, then Charlotte and then some of the other TGF crew and then Jonty Cummings. All this had acted as a great distraction and I had suddenly done around 15km.

My legs were screaming but I was desperate to get to the end, I couldn’t believe that after 315 odd kilometres I was almost sprinting to get to the finish. I tried to distract myself from the pain by reflecting on the last 6 days. It made me pretty emotional thinking about what we were so close to achieving, nothing was going to stop me now and I pushed a little harder.

With a km to go I gave it everything, in the distance I could hear the PA system and music for the finish, I put my head down and pushed harder and then there it was……the finishing line was in sight.

12 months of planning, US$100,000 of fundraising, hours of training, 7 days of running around 320kms and it was all finishing a couple of hundred metres in front of me. Those last 200 metres, it was pretty hard to breathe, I was running faster than my body could manage and I was fighting back the tears but I crossed the line in 1hr 29 mins 19 seconds.

The time didn’t matter, first I needed to breathe and get my heart rate down. Kirsty and Erin came rushing over with Mum and Anna following them, a lot of sweaty hugs, maybe a tear or two and a bottle of water over my head and I was done.

We then waited for Ferg, I knew from seeing him at the halfway point that he wouldn’t be too far behind. As we saw him coming down towards the finish he had a massive smile on his face and for me, it was something I will remember for a very long time…….We had made it!

A very long hug with Ferg certainly made me reflect. There were many times that I doubted whether we would complete this challenge in the lead-up – had we bitten off more than we could chew? Ferg’s travel and work schedule had seriously affected his training; his feet coming into the challenge were a mess. Were either of us going to get sick and not be able to run, was the heat going to be too much to run day after day? These were all major concerns that I had, but we overcame them all and no one can ever take that away from us. It was a very sweet moment.

After catching up with all the TGF crew we jumped in our tuk tuk back to the Sofitel to attack the breakfast buffet and we certainly got our money’s worth!

I will do one more post once I have had some time to reflect and let today sink in. Tonight we have a celebratory dinner with the TGF crew, and I can’t wait for a beer!

Until then.

Matt

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