|All shiny shoes and big smiles at the start.|
When I signed up for this race it was for one reason, somehow I didn't have a single race booked for February! Not sure how that happened, but something had to be done! And because misery loves company I persuaded Husbando and a couple of friends to come along too. After all, it was 'only 21 miles' and it would fit in well with the alleged training plan for a marathon that we are doing in a couple of weeks.
Things were going pretty well before we started. We had the warmest run briefing ever inside East Meon Village Hall before making our way to the start line. Spirits were high, it wasn't raining and we spent the first couple of miles running with friends. I say running, but within the first mile we hit the first hill, so there was a fair amount of walking involved! Pretty soon the group splintered, not by design but due to the stop start nature of a large number of people trying to get through a narrow kissing gate. Husbando and were quite happy on our own, occasionally chatting with other runners as they passed us or we passed them.
At some point I had managed to pause my Garmin, I probably knocked it when going over a stile, which meant that I didn't really have any firm idea of how far into the route we were. This wasn't helped by one of the marshals who told us we were 'half way there' when, in retrospect, I reckon we were 7.5 miles in! At one point, when we were holding onto overhanging trees in an attempt to stay upright as we skittered down a hill, Husbando asked if we would manage to finish in under 5hours - it was looking doubtful! Soon after this however we came across a bit of tarmac which made running a bit easier and then to the top of a hill where the wind was so intense that we had to run because we didn't want to stay exposed to if for a minute longer than we had to! This helped us make up a bit of time, and we even overtook a few people! We did have to slow down just before the end as the mud behind in the church was so deep and so intent on trying to remove our shoes that we had no option but to walk!
Coming up to the finish line I looked in disbelieve at the timing clock. The first number was a 4 - I couldn't see the rest of the numbers, but figured that it was worth a bit of a sprint to see we could do it... And we did! Tea and cake in the village hall were most welcome afterwards, but we got cold very quickly as we waited for our friends to finish - thank heavens for space blankets! They keep you warm and protect the car from some of the mud!
Thanks to all the marshals and race organisers. I have apologised to my friends for subjecting them to such an arduous day out and told them to shoot me if I suggest doing it next year!