As racers waited for their bus ride out at the Cape Wrath lighthouse there was time to take some finish line photos on their phones, and one of the most commonly taken shots was of Giliam Boogerd’s feet!
Giliam's feet - an oddly photogenic draw at the finish ©Rob Howard
They were very badly blistered and he said, “I tried all sorts of different socks, changed them every day, used powder and cream – nothing seemed to work. I guess it’s my first multi-day race so I’m new to it, but I don’t know what else I could do really. I’m glad my wife was not here – she would have pulled me out, especially last night when I had to use a chair as a ’walker’ to get some food!
“The heat has been bad for me and the thing is I decided not to do Marathon des Sables as I’ve had skin cancer and came to Scotland expecting it to be wet and cold – it wasn’t!
“I’ve been to some dark places in this race, day after day. Maybe I was not best prepared as I only began trail running 9 months ago when I signed up and its flat where we live in Holland so much of my training was done on a treadmill – maybe i should have set it steeper more often!” He was still cheerful at the finish despite his struggles, and he never gave into the blisters and finished the route.
Kevin Stuart of the USA said he’d come into the race with no idea what to expect. “I didn’t know what a bog was!” he said. “Every day I thought I was out of my league but you have to believe things can get better and we sign up as we want the challenge. I don’t know why I kept going – I guess I just didn’t want to be the one to stop. There is a lot of pride in finishing, and some pig-headedness!”
He was sitting with Rod Sinclair who said, “I found a set routine helped. Doing the same things, same time each day, taking it step by step and couldn’t have done this without other racers around me to encourage me.”
Stuart agreed, “You have to buddy up to finish this, it’s not a race to finish on your own.”
Kevin Stuart at the finish line, Cape Wrath - ©iancorless.com
Aly Wren said, “That was really hard, so much harder than I could have imagined. I was sore on day 6 and in pain on day 7. The pain affected my attitude and made it harder to keep on going. I had to remind myself to enjoy the stunningly beautiful scenery and other runners were so supportive all the time. There’s been so much comradeship between us.
“I made the mistake of thinking of the last 16 miles as an easy day but it was a real sting in the tail. There were lots of ups and downs and I was in agony. I didn’t want that to colour my experience at Sandwood Bay and took time to enjoy being there, a place I’ll probably never go to again.
“I am so delighted to be getting that medal and can’t wait to see my husband, who has come up to support me and brought our dog. He only got to see me a couple of minutes a day but it meant a lot knowing he was there.”
They will get together tonight at the prize giving dinner, where all the runners will be getting their medals and sharing their stories.