You will never know what your body is capable of- said Luca at 3am while we were waiting to reach yet another check point on our gruelling 70k race. We started at 10am the previous day and as per my plans i was supposed to be already finished and sound asleep in my lovely hotel room in Bergamo. But no, here i was forcing one foot in front of the other with some more 15k to go. To walk to be exact. I signed up for Grand Trail Orobie in December or so. I just fell for it. And once I started to look into it, the more excited i was. This is what I wanted. This is what I trained for. I’m not an amazing speedy runner but I love running, I love mountains. It’s my passion, it’s my joy. I was scared and excited. I planned the race accordingly, distance, altitude gain, food. I had a plan. Plan which broke into pieces after 10ish kilometres. Start at 10am around lake Carona and off we go for first climb. There was quite a queue as usual, but I was even able to cut corners a bit, strong, happy and full of joy, thinking it was smarter not to take the poles which Carlo borrowed me, cause I don’t really need them. In the end, I’m a runner, I climb hills without poles, i push hard with my legs and I’m fine as always. Little scan if everything is ok, clif block, water, some more water, gosh I’m thirsty, some more water. Reached first aid station, refilled my water bladder and didn’t pay attention to the fact i already drank 1,5 litre within 8k. Cause it was boiling hot, i need to drink. But somehow I couldn’t eat. But that’s ok, I don’t need to eat, my body works great on long distances, I’m gonna have my chocolate energy bar on next station. Big smile for photographer and allez allez! Next uphill to climb to the highest point. Noticing something is terribly wrong. Stopping at water well, washed my face, trying to calm the body temperature down. Not refreshing. Not happy. Red light turned on. Since that moment everything was wrong. 15k in and I realised this is not going well. With another 55k to go I couldn’t imagine i will ever get there. Stomach ache, unable to take deep breath in, feel like suffocating, hot, cold, sweaty, dizzy. I suddenly wanted to get injured, so that it will allow me to stop without feeling guilty that i gave up so early. But that didn’t happen. Next miserable climb, this thing is technical like nothing i ever seen or did before. Balancing on one leg on loose rock ain’t no fun. Then i met Peter. Not sure where and how we started chatting cause I was kinda delirious. He kept an eye on me, made me go and gave me his poles to climb yet another mental hill. Without him i will never get to the 30th kilometre. In Zambla a female volunteer was checking on me if I’m ok as i must have looked confused. I pretended I’m fine. But I wanted to retire there. However after i sat down, Peter said with big smile: right, let’s go! I disappeared into toilet hoping he will leave without me. He didn’t. Another climb. I should appreciate the views. But zero fs were given about the views. Sometimes you just do things. Like not giving up when your whole self shouts to stop. When you find yourself sitting on a wooden chair getting cold on kilometre 35 with time in which you would normally finish 50k in mountains, had shower and pizza.. You question everything. Does it make sense to just walk the second half? What you even doing here? You can’t breathe and you haven’t eaten any solid food during whole day and you just want to vomit. Your mind is broken in 1000 pieces and you are in such a dark place that your own motivational crap sounds like morbid joke. The blue flower from your vest goes deep into backpack, no time to be cheerful or childish. Then something breaks. Peter is standing there, worried, waits for your decision. You can see he believes you will stand up. And you do. You say im not f#cking giving up and you stand up. We high five and the volunteer behind us clap his hands. I smile a bit for the first time. And then i go and suffer some more. I tell Peter to go, that I’ll be fine. And i feel guilty for slowing him down. I don’t want anyone to be worried. And don’t want anyone see me so miserable and terribly broken. Maybe i just lay in the grass and have a little nap? And then I hear voice behind me saying something in Italian. His face ain’t happy either so I try English. That works. Say hi to Luca. I complain how terrible world and myself and race and everything is, then I complain and complain and complain some more. I’m low but he says that now all the bad is behind us and it will get better now, we enter woods. His voice is quite calming. He might be right in the end. These are his mountains. We agree we just gonna finish it. We make a plan. The plan is called: we will finish. I’m still not that sure about it. Ok, so we will count check points not kilometres. That should do, we have 7 to go. 7 is good, it’s not even double digit number, right? On next check point i meet Peter again, he is so happy to see me smiling. I have hot sweet tea, which kinda helps, the stupid flower goes back on my hair. Still unable to eat i chew a date bar and spit it straight away on the ground. Yet another check point, yet another sweet hot tea, however in the meantime i lost sense of distance and time. We talk about kids, marriage, running, this, that, on the way we meet some more broken runners, they join us and then go or stay.. Kilometre 50. Luca’s dad waiting as we get out of the woods. His face changes and he is so happy that it keeps me going too. Feels like watching a movie when he hugs his wife and I watch his daughter to look up to him with such proud eyes that something inside me moves. We have to finish this, there is no way back. At the checkpoint I’m fed some pasta, first solid food just before midnight. We take our time, Luca with his family and i chat to a blond guy from Denmark. He dnf’ed and is waiting for bus, I’m teasing him to join us. He said he can’t as he has flight to catch. 6:30am from Bergamo. I realise I’m not the only silly one which thought that day and race will go as planned. I wish him luck, give my blue flower to Luca’s daughter and our odysea continues, it’s almost midnight. We join forces with Paola and Diego and suddenly I’m super cheerful for a while, must be the food. Before the last climb we get Veronica and as 5 musketeers we march through the night and the last 23k. Sometimes you don’t need to speak the same language to understand each other. Like the two stubborn girls walking through the night next to each other. Sometimes you just do things. But never cry on trail, your vision will be even more blurred. But if you are lucky enough you share the worst day of your life with other amazing not-giving-up runners. And you all finish hand in hand and suddenly that camaraderie matters over all. I was so excited about this race, i was so happy planning it and getting ready. Everything failed. But I’m still standing. Thank you Gran Trail Orobie, thank you fellow runners, thank you my dear husband and thank you all for amazing support when I needed it so much!