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"I'll try," I say, but I don't believe I can do it.
The loudspeaker announces that Peddie is now half a lap ahead of me. That stings me, so I lurch into a duckfooted wobble. Straight pain on the thighs. There is no way to express it, and my mind, often so happy to chew on verbal models of the world, is empty. It had occurred to me before the race that it would be reasonable to run 23 hours and just sit out the last hour. I consider it now. What more can I do? Is it worth pushing on in such a wretched state for the sake of a mile or so?
But the race is the distance covered and it is done, however one looks doing it. John is waiting again.
"Can't you run a little?" he asks.
Finally I am honest.
"I can't. My legs are absolutely shot."
"O.K.," he says. "But keep going. You may have Peddie and Record ahead of you but they're not moving very fast. There's still a chance. This is where it matters, because later you'll wish you'd packed in a little more. You can still get to 140."
It's now three o'clock in the afternoon. There's just one hour to go. Now that I have no hope of running I can't imagine walking for another 60 minutes. I think of just walking to 45 minutes to go and then I'll quit. I pretend I have something to look forward to.
Support comes from clumps of spectators:
"Come on, you're doing fabulous."