On the weekend of 10-11th of December 2022 Mr & Mrs Bridges and Mr Neville flew to Chiang Mai to take on challenges that would push them to their limits (and probably beyond at some stages). Mr Neville and Mr Bridges had signed up for a 100km ultramarathon in the mountains of Doi Inthanon National Park (with 6,000m of climbing in the race as well). Mrs Bridges was signed up for the 24km race (still with nearly 1,000m of elevation).
So at 5am, on Saturday 10th December Mr Bridges and Mr Neville stood on the start line with their friend John (a science teacher at another school in Bangkok) to tackle the “UTMB Cliffs 100km”. Neither of them had ever run over 50km before, and certainly not with this level of elevation. In fact, living in Bangkok makes it almost impossible to train for elevation at all. But the starter horns sounded anyway and they ran off into the darkness….
It’s impossible to describe what a 100km takes from you. But suffice to say it was emotionally and physically one of the hardest things either had ever done. There were high moments, like the views from the tops of the biggest climbs of the entire national park. And there were low moments, like in the dark at 9pm on Saturday evening at 84km, knowing that a monstrous 10km climb, with legs that already felt broken, was coming and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Quitting was not an option.
Ultimately both finished. Battered, emotional, pained but elated at the experience and feeling of triumph of mind over body. It took over 21 hours. But it also took everything they had. Tears have been shed. The words “never again” have been said more times than either care to remember. But a profound sense of achievement and pride is the biggest takeaway. Would they do it again? Ask them in a week.
And then it was on to Mrs Bridges. At 6am on Sunday 11th December Mrs Bridges toed the line for UTMB ‘Terraces 20km’ (actually 24km and approx 1,000m of climbing). Mrs Bridges ran in the same race last year and took just over 3 hours. Her aim this year was clear, sub 3 hours.
Spurred on by what her friends (and husband of course) just achieved Mrs Bridges started fast and never looked back. She ran as hard as she could, fell down, picked herself back up, ran through rivers and up hills – chasing that sub 3 hour time.
Eventually Mrs Bridges rounded the corner to the finish line and sprinted home in a time of 2:57:27, which was enough to achieve 2nd place overall and 1st place in her age group!
If you had asked any of them whether they would be running races like this, even just over a year ago, the answer would have been ‘no way’. And yet here they are, running races and distances they never thought would be possible and actually starting to think about the next!
The message is clear – we are all so much more capable than we believe we are. So if your dreams don’t scare you, then they’re probably not big enough! Challenge yourself and you will definitely surprise yourself at what you are truly capable of.