By: Tony Mangan. March 27, 2007
I felt the Japanese runners eyes burning holes through my back. We were in the latter hours of the
I moved to the left he moved to left. He was waiting for me to go. Cat and mouse. I was in no hurry, as I had a nice lead of about 10km. I stopped to send a mothers day sms message! Kenjai grunted and charged off. This was his 3rd attack of the 4 he had mounted on me. Knowing he was nearing his limit this time I went with him just to show him I was feeling very strong. It was a short attack. Just one lap of the 250 meter concrete track of the indoor arena. Eyeballs- out-stuff, we ran it in about 70 seconds but it seemed sub 60. Most of my other laps were in the 1:30 to 1:40 region. At the end of this lap his hand went up in the air, almost as a sign of submission. I had managed to fend off his 2 previous attacks, lapping him a few times when he faded. I never did get to send that mothers day message but later my mam had said. â€Son that was the best present any mother could have wished for!â€
We jogged on for a couple of hours, towards the never-ending finish. Refreshed with about 2 hours to go we spoke for the first time. He told me not to worry that he wanted to go through 400km in style. Still, I had to take this seriously as anything could happen to me giving him an outside chance of victory. He lifted his pace gradually, adrenalin filled, running through the pain barrier. I was watching him carefully from the opposite side of the track matching his pace. He was running clad in his white Japanese singlet and blue shorts with a forward leaning style which was easy to pick out amongst the other runners.
I started this race wearing my
Peta a young science student was assigned to look after me giving me my carbohydrate Sustained Energy drinks, Hammer Nutrition Gels and E-Caps. Also, Alan Young a UK athletics official was very generous with his assistance even though he was there to crew for William Sichel who broke the Scottish 48 hour record and finished 6th. These helpers were instrumental to my success. I owe them a huge debt. This was the first time I wore Injinji Tetratsoks and for the first time in 3 ultras I didnâ€™t get a blister, in fact my feet hardly had a blemish! The official aid stations were well stocked and included beer! As a non-drinker I chose the alcohol-free one, occasionally. They were of course not pint glasses but shot glass size. Sometimes one finds it hard to stomach regular drinks and as beer is rich in carbohydrates – itâ€™s a welcome refreshment!
Towards the end of the race I was escorted by the race referee to my finishing spot to put down a marker to mark what I thought to be a course record. Jaroslav Kocourek, a Czech runner was the first to shake my hand and congratulate me on breaking his indoor world record! I asked him what he meant: â€œwas it not a course recordâ€? â€œYes itâ€™s a course record but the course record is the world record!â€ That was a pleasant shock to me! I looked for Kenjai and gave him a massive hug. We exchanged flags and were photographed holding each others flag. Then third place Vlastimil Dvoracek came over. We exchanged race stories. I fell into a chair and gave 2 television interviews and numerous photos as the arena sign flashed â€œ World 48 hour indoor record Tony Mangan
We got onto the podium sharing with the 3 womenâ€™s winners. We were all so tired, almost falling off and hanging onto each other as the presentations continued with individual awards for each finisher. Eventually they allowed us to sit down on the podium while the ceremony continued.
I went back to the hotel, showered and slept for about 4 hours and went out to dinner with the other runners. I sat with Kenjai. He told me about life as a runner in
Race director, Tomas Rusek did a wonderful job putting on this incredible race which went like a well-oiled machine without a hitch. The trophy I was presented with was so big I didnâ€™t know how to get it home! He called to my room the next morning to give me a large sports bag which the trophy barely fitted into. I went to the airport put the 48 hour shoes into the x-ray machine and pitied the operator! As I put them on I heard some Irish weekend revelers asking. â€œDid you run?â€ Thinking they were talking to me I turned just as the other was replying, â€œAre you crazy? I couldnâ€™t run across the street!â€ I had a little chuckle and walked very slowly through the terminal. I was happy.