The ground underfoot felt firmer as we set off, the route was a different one to the first race and I anticipated that it would be a much harder run. I was running 'naked' (i.e. without my Garmin) and was just taking it easy, I found the flurries of snow quite distracting as I ran. It seemed really hard to focus with the constant flecks of white all around! I find this sort of terrain requires a lot of concentration, I am constantly looking down at my feet to make sure I know where I am going, so there isn't a lot of time to admire the views and I certainly never get to that mindless, mediative state that occurs when road running. All this concentration meant that I seemed to pass the kilometre markers sooner than I expected - some of this may be due to rather arbitrary placement of said markers. I decided to err on the side of caution and to regard the 6km marker as the halfway point.
Just before this marker we turned sharply left, and I could see the dreaded 'Martha's Back Passage' rising up ahead. It was dotted with brightly coloured, lycra clad runners that looked like a string of fairly lights. When I got to the base of the hill it was a relief not to have to decide whether I was going to attempt to run up the hill! It was a narrow track and everyone ahead of me was walking, so I walked too. Even that was tough - by the time I got to the top my calves were screaming at me and I was breathing heavily, as was everyone else around me! From then on it was easier - still lots of uphill bits, but nothing of the magnitude of that monster of a hill.
It was all going really well, I was even beginning to think that this cross country stuff wasn't quite as bad as I'd made out. I passed the water station and the St John's Ambulance people at the 8km marker, this stretch was flat and the path was smooth. I didn't trip, I didn't stumble, but suddenly my foot was going totally the wrong way underneath me and I was on my hands an knees on the floor! Several other runners stopped to help - shouting back to the St John's Ambulance guys. I was just swearing and crying a little bit. I hobbled back with the first aiders and wondered what to do. I was able to put a bit of weight on my foot, but it was very ouchy! I hate not finishing things, and thought that I might as well collect the second medal in the series. I lost about 10 minutes faffing around and deciding what to do.
It hurt, and I took it very easy. I heard my name being called behind me, so stopped and waited while my friend caught up with me. We ran together for a while until we got to an uphill section across a field. The track here was smooth, I could put my foot down with relative confidence and not having to bend it too much meant that it didn't hurt as much as it did when I put it down on the uneven ground. Plus the pain took my mind off the hill. I somehow pulled away from my friend - I don't think he'll forgive me for that! I just kept plodding on.
I crossed the finish line and made it as far as the table where the timing chips were being collected. I couldn't go any further. I stood there and fought back the tears while the first aiders were summoned. My head of department finished a few seconds behind me and came to see if I was OK. She even went to fetch my medal for me as I wasn't going anywhere fast! I got myself checked out by the St John's Ambulance people who advised me to go to A&E at some point. I decided to have breakfast first. I was in urgent need of several cups of tea!
After a couple of hours at A&E I was released with no bones broken but a lovely purple bruise and ligament damage. It seems that crutches are in order for a while - plus a trip to the GP and physio. The timing couldn't be worse in terms of training for upcoming marathons - but there isn't a lot I can do about that now. As it was I came home and spent the afternoon snoozing, only waking up when I moved my foot and it hurt, rather than getting on with the marking I needed to do! Ah well - I won't be running tomorrow so I can mark those mocks then!
A big thank you to everyone who helped me today. Especially the nameless runner who stayed with me when I fell. It has made me realise how daft I have been in the past to run on similar terrain on my own.