Last two weekends were mad busy. First, I took part in Etape Loch Ness (read here). I got back to London on Tuesday morning only to leave again on Friday afternoon to head to the Isle of Wight Ultra Challenge. This time as a sports massage therapist.
Well, that would be an exaggeration 🙂 as I am still only a student at NLSSM and only just embarking on my journey as a sports massage therapist but I was part of the team providing short 10min massage sessions to the participants.
It was exciting to be part of it. As an NLSSM student I get a chance to volunteer at various sports events but this year most of the events fall on dates I would not be able to attend, hence I decided to do it so early in the course. I knew I was going to have a supervisor and enough experienced people in the team to not feel overwhelmed.
Have you been to the Isle of Wight? Do you know it’s only 2hrs on the train away from Clapham Junction? Then just 25min on the ferry and suddenly you are transported to this idyllic place that seems like another country.
It may be small but it doesn’t feel like it. The views are stunning. The towns are picturesque and the beaches beautiful.
I was to be a part of the team for just one day as I had to be back at college on Sunday.
I got to Portsmouth Harbour around 7pm and took the ferry to Ryde.
Here I met the lovely Jess from Function Jigsaw (check them out) who were providing the massage team for the event. We collected more people on the way and we went to this lovely cottage in Newport called East Wing Clatterford House.
It had countless rooms, a huge living room and was a real maze.
We had a briefing and got to meet the rest of the team. Followed by a fantastic meal of chicken risotto prepared by the chef. Well, Ben. Still, it was awesome.
The event is a run, jog or walk over 50 or 100km. You can finish at 50km or continue to 100km. And if you choose 100km you can do it in one go or split it over two days.
It was great to chat to all the experienced therapists. Most of them drove from Leicestershire but there were a few locals that we were to meet over the next two days. We got the rota and as I had to leave by Saturday evening I got the first shift at the 50km mark which would be halfway point for some and finish for others.
As the rest of the team would be staying until Sunday afternoon, working through the nights, I said I would be OK sleeping on a blow up bed. In the absence of a pump and the built in one not working, lovely John put all his 16 years in the army and boot camp teaching experience to the test and filled the mattress up purely by the power of his longs not taking a single break! Wales can be proud of you, John!
In the morning we woke up to these stunning views:
I will not mention the small fact that about 3 hours later the air swiftly escaped from the said mattress and I took my pillow and went downstairs onto the sofa 🙂
After basking in the stunningly warm sun and a walk to the village it was time to get on the road and head off to the 50km point where I would work with Ben and Jess to start with and then other members would start coming as it got busier.
The tent was massive and we shared it with St John’s Ambulance.
We got there about 1pm and shortly after the elite runners started coming through. They were not stopping for a massage though. Just a change of clothes and a refuel.
Couple of hours later and closer to 5pm more and more people started filing in. Most of them were in pretty good shape save the tight hamstrings and calves but we did see some more serious cases. I very generously passed these ones onto Ben and other professionals.
The participants were dirty, they were sweaty, they were smelly but boy were they determined. One girl finished for the day and was doing the other 50km on Sunday but she was staying in a tent next to the site?! It was very, very cold. I wouldn’t want to do that knowing I had another 50km to do the next day.
It was a great experience for me working on people in a very short 10min (including 1-2min spent trying to wipe caked mud off their calves 🙂 ) and mainly through clothes. Especially on those who were just taking a short pit stop before getting back on the road.
I picked up on some technique tips from the team. Also from the practical side I loved the idea of using a small foam roller instead of a pillow to elevate the legs or rest the knee in a side position. Ben had a very handy and a very professional bag filled with creams, potions, sprays etc.
I made a couple of rookie mistakes which I only know about (and probably Ben if he was looking) but thankfully nothing to put the clients at risk. Just my pride.
And the people were so appreciative and I heard a few good words. And got a really deadly stare from a guy whose compression socks I rolled right down as he wanted a calf massage, only to learn that he had another 50km to run after the massage. If you ever had to pull a pair of muddy compression socks on you would understand why he was not a happy bunny 🙂
And then it was time to head back to the big smoke. Thank you Function Jigsaw for the opportunity.
If you ever think of doing an ultra event in a picturesque scenery, this is a great choice. It’s a very well organised event as many of the people who came to our tent kept pointing out.
And if you are like me, more into cycling, on the first Sunday May there is Randonnee, 100km ride around the island (or 55km if you choose). No entry fee.
I can totally see why my friends decided to buy a house on the island.