Most people when they get to a big Birthday would have a party, go on a holiday or treat themselves to something luxurious right?
Not our Julie Dixon….. oh noooooooo!
She decided to celebrate her upcoming 40th birthday with a tiny challenge. A little test of her endurance. A small measure of her metal.
She dreamt up an ultra, all based around the numbers 4 and 40.
And so it was born…
4km Sea Swim
140km Bike ride
Somehow this crazy idea caught on and she managed to enlist some other willing participants with enough chutzpah to give it a go. Husband and fellow Roadrunner Pete Dixon along with friends Martin Scotcher, Shaun Overton and Sam Grist and Clare Griffin all took the challenge on to make Julie’s 40th Birthday one she would never forget. They then decided to turn it into a fundraiser for West Wight Sports Centre, where Julie works as a fitness instructor. Months and months of preparation then followed to not only ensure that they were all fit enough for each discipline, but that every leg of the event ran smoothly.
Thursday 24th August.
Time to get this show on the road!
Alum Bay to Colwell Bay. 2 and a half miles in the sea kicked off this epic adventure.
“I had a great swim” said Pete “I was consistent and I felt really strong. It was a relief as I bailed on the training swim”
Different story for Julie though as she readily admits she’s not keen on sea swimming
“It is by far my weakest element. I was so slow both the support boat and kayak offered me a tow haha! I was last one out, but I made it. I was glad to get to it out of the way”
The whole crew made it onto dry land as they recouperated with a 2 hour break before heading out onto the bikes in two separate groups.
“I headed out on the bike feeling good” said Pete “I had my best friend and inspiration by my side (the wife) along with friends Jo and Johnny to pace us”
They met the other group at Bembridge as they had a quick pit stop for lunch before continuing forever onward, ticking off the miles as they went.
They got back to West Wight Sports Centre, joyful at thinking they’d successfully completed day one of the challenge. However they were to soon discover that a miscalculation in the conversion of km to miles meant that the 79 miles they’d blistered through wasn’t enough!
“That was a lesson learnt!” Julie told me as we jogged along at the start of the run leg the next day “If your event is in km, don’t leave your watch on miles!”
So they reluctantly got back on their bikes, sore, but determined to nail the challenge to the letter.
Finally they finished, got themselves a massage, a well earnt dinner and a good nights sleep.
“I felt so good and positive after day 1” said Julie
A 4.30am alarm call woke team awesome (or should it be oarsome! – sorry that pun was dreadful!), to get them out early to prepare their 6 gig boat for the row scheduled to begin at 7.15am. The conditions were perfect, with a mirror glass sea as the tug boat took them from Yarmouth to Alum Bay.
The tide was with them at first and they were flying along at 8-9mph laughing, joking and singing all the way. They slowed when they got past Ryde as the tide changed. But it didn’t deter the group, they had made up so much time that they could afford to slow up a little.
A welcoming party had gathered on the shore at Bembridge as they made their way in. Friends, support crew and some trusty Roadrunners had turned up to see them on their way for the last and possibly biggest test of all … the 40k run back to the West Wight Sports Centre.
“I still didn’t feel tired” said Julie
Pete wasn’t feeling quite as fresh as the row had taken its toll on his lower back.
“I was in a fair bit of pain by this point, the discomfort in my back was sending pains down my leg, I knew it was going to take everything I had left to get through that run”
2 o’clock. Time to start the grande finale. 25 miles lay ahead of them. Temperatures were in the 20s as they set off, so dehydration was a real risk here.
They ran altogether on road from the Duver at St Helens on road to the end of the the cycle path at Fairway Sandown. It was here that they split according to their estimated pace and confidence over the distance. Julie went ahead taking Glen Jones and Hayley Baxter for company, Sam and Martin ran together with support crew Jo and Johnny whilst Pete ran with newbie runner Shaun (he was one of Julie’s couch to 5k students at the beginning of the year!) and friend Sarah Remnant, who was also new to the distance. Roadrunners Alison Batchelor and Sarah Holmes kept them company, with Jane Andrew arriving on her bike soon after.
“What a joy and an honour it was to see these guys through the first “half” of their journey. I felt like it was our job to keep them at a manageable pace and not let them fly out too quick and remind them to drink or take their gels at the right time.I was awestruck that they were all so chipper still, especially Shaun who was so new to running and Pete who was suffering with his back” said Holmsie
With regular check ins from their support crew along the way, offering them water, gels and jelly babies, the miles flew by and it was smiles all round. Suddenly they reached Shide Trees. Waiting here were Roadrunners Jodie Willmott, Sarah Sharp and Julie Ray along with Claire Campbell and Dan Morgan. The ladies ran with Julie up to the Eight Bells in Carisbrooke. Jodie and Claire then hooked up with Tim Keyte to take Julie onward on the more challenging part of the journey on to the Tennyson Trail.
Sarah Sharp and Julie Ray turned back and returned to Shide where they waited for Pete to arrive, and escort him to the Eight Bells. Once he’d had a quick massage, he was off again. Still with Shaun and Sarah R he’d now picked up Martin for company. Julie Ray left them at this point, but Sarah Sharp continued with them to Jubilee Car Park before turning back.
Julie also parted company with some of her crew at this point. Jodie and Claire waved their goodbyes, leaving Julie with Tim and Dan, but joined by Louise Dover.
“I had sore hamstrings by now” said Julie “I was finally getting tired”
The most difficult miles were behind them now, all they had to do get up onto the golf course at Freshwater and hold on to the finish line at West Wight Sports Centre.
And that’s exactly what they did….. gritted teeth and determination, Julie even cranked up the pace to an awesome 8.30 min miles as home became only a couple of miles away.
They’d only gone and done it!!
224km behind them – AMAZING!!
Just Julie, Pete and Martin managed the entire challenge. (Poor Sam fell off his bike, Shaun couldn’t do the row and Clare couldn’t do all the run and swim)
“I am so grateful to everyone that helped make the challenge happen” said Julie the next day “we are so grateful to have such support around us. It was a brilliant experience over the 2 days”
Last word from Pete
“My lovely wife will have to think of another dastardly plan to try to kill me haha”
Don’t worry Pete you have another 10 years to wait hopefully…. you’d better get the holiday brochures out and book somewhere fast!!!!