Friday, 22 September 2017

Athlete left star-struck by royals at endurance event

AN athlete has told of his excitement after he stood feet from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they officially started a 131-mile ultra-marathon.

AN athlete has told of his excitement after he stood feet from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they officially started a 131-mile ultra-marathon.

Luc Jolly, who completed the Ring O’ Fire, a three-day endurance event held in Anglesey at the weekend, said he was “star-struck” by the experience.

The event marked the Duchess’s first public appearance since the birth of her son George in July.

Mr Jolly, 31, of North Street, Caversham, said: “It was great because there was a really big buzz and their appearance added to it and gave it a good sense of occasion.

“I had never seen Prince William or Kate Middleton so I felt a little bit star-struck.

“They are clearly very nice people. They walked down and said a general hello and good luck to everyone. Kate was looking great.”

The royal couple spent just under an hour at Holyhead Breakwater Country Park speaking to volunteers, runners and local residents before ringing a bell to start the race.

Mr Jolly decided to push his way to the front of the start line in order to gain a better glimpse of the royals.

“I wanted to be as close as possible for when Will rang the bell,” he said.

“I think some people ran off a little bit faster than they would have done because the couple were standing by the start.” Prince William’s appearance was confirmed a few days before the event but the official confirmation of his wife’s presence only came on the day.

The Duchess, who wore a khaki blazer over a printed top with her trademark skinny jeans and wedges, was greeted by well- wishers asking after Prince George.

She told the crowds that her mother was looking after the couple’s son at their home on the island.

Mr Jolly, who completed the race in about 27-and-a-half hours, said his parents, Ruth and Andre, were equally as excited to see the royal couple as they were to watch him compete.

“I think my mum was quite excited to be there anyway because it was my big race but when she found out Will and Kate were going to be there she thought it was great,” he said.

Mr Jolly, a BP project engineer, said the race was his hardest endurance challenge to date.

He ran 36 miles on Friday, 66 miles on Saturday and 33 miles on Sunday.

An old injury in his right knee recurred after about 20 miles, so he tried to put more pressure on his left knee but this made that joint seize up on the second day. “It was absolute agony from that point forward,” said Mr Jolly. “I was trying to keep my left leg as straight as possible.

“When I got to the checkpoints I had to run around in circles because if I stopped and relaxed I couldn’t get going again.”

His brother, Simon, who was there to support him, ran part of the way with him to keep his spirits up.

Mr Jolly said: “I got a little bit emotional whenever I thought of the next checkpoint because of the thought of seeing my family. I knew I would see my mum looking really worried because she didn’t like to see me struggling.”

He made an unwelcome discovery towards the end of the second day.

Mr Jolly said: “My feet were a bit sore but it was only when I took my shoes off after about 102 miles that I noticed that four of my toenails had either come off or were in the process. I just had to put my shoes back on and worry about it later.”

He was pleased with his finish time, especially in the light of his injuries.

He said: “I was kind of hoping for under 30 hours even though I have never done anything like this before but when my knee seized up my focus changed and the main aim was to finish.

“Although there is a certain level of pain involved, I think that is what gives you the satisfaction when you do it.”

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