Spent most of the swim coughing again but completed it in 62 mins 30 secs ( again). After heavy overnight rain , the track was still quite wet but not slippy as it is NOT a smooth surface . It’s a bit like a rural Cheshire lane surface – ie very bumpy. We dispensed with suncream as it was so overcast , but Sam has ended the day with a burnt face and neck . I completed the bike in 6 hr 4 mins ( approx 30 secs faster than yesterday and 2 mins slower than Thursday . My challenger for 3rd place , Hermann Steinacher of Austria pushed a fast pace on the bike , so I knew I could not relax . At this stage of the race , you don’t really want to still be pushing the limits . I knew that a good run was required . I went quite steadily for the first half and then really tried to hold the pace ( I have been slowing down most days in the last few laps). With 2 laps to go ( 6+ miles ) I knew that I had a chance of my fastest day if I could put in a good hour’s running . I was also 10 minutes behind the day’s race leader , Kim Greisen who I crossed the line with on Thursday , so I used him as a 2nd target as we crossed paths twice on each of the out and back laps . I sprinted through the last feed station , ignoring Sam’s offer of food/drink ( and his order not to injure mysel) and caught Kim with 300 metres to go , in the process beating my best time of the race by 1 minute !! I think I am about 50 minutes clear of 4th place but anything can still happen on the last day .
As you can imagine , the camaraderie amongst the competitors is growing by the day. It develops quite a shared bond by undertaking such a tough task together . Today I had my first longish chat with Thierry Delhaye of France , who is competing in his first Deca . His goal was only to finish , so being in 2nd place is the creme sur le gateau for Thierry. He has been lucky to have his wife alongside him on her bike throughout the runs . Also today , despite having dropped out , Kari Martens was there supporting us all with his wife Petra and son Oliver . They informed me that they had been counting strokes during the swim. I swim side by side with Harald Oswald . Apparently it looks quite funny as he tkes 16 strokes a length to my 24 !! Vincenzo keeps plugging away and it looks like he will make it . Mike Ward of England had a storming run today and Wayne Kurtz continues to smile and TALK all day despite painful shinsplints . Tony Reed is a character — yesterday he had a shave AFTER the swim . None of us had ever seen that before . His rear end was so so sore after 3 days — I think Sam and I have made a friend for life by letting him use my Assos cream each morning — that stuff really is good for saddle sores . AND …………… amazingly after 9 marathons in 9 days , some in very wet conditions , I do not even have a hint of a blister !! That run to Rome must have really toughened my feet up .
So…………….I day to go !!!