Secondly, can't help but chuckle as I write down the memories, and look at the photos!! Did I really do that?!
It was car share to Bordon, Hampshire, with Peter Cook and Angela Liu. Fairly easy drive in fog and all of us chattering excitedly and with trepidation about the event. Peter and Angela are quite strong runners, and even they were a little daunted at what lay ahead, neither having done this sort of thing before. It was like Christmas morning, slowly unwrapping our thoughts in anticipation of the "big shiny present".
First excitement was pulling into the wrong car. Peter's cute little car was appropriate bait for the big beastie 4x4s circling around! The state of the drive and car park should have been a clue we had stumbled across a 4x4 rut-breaking event. The two overturned cars on their sides, appearing like mammoths in the fog was also a little daunting! We turned around and fled, almost hearing the duelling banjos in the back ground!
Finally found our car park for the Turbo X Trail, looking quite bare with just the race tent, a few portaloos, and a couple of other early arrivals. The car park did fill quite quickly and soon the air was alive with excited patter, ralgex and bacon. It was cold so fleecy coats were worn over thin running gear. We got our race chips, that were supposed to be secured to our ankles with paper chains. Would that really hold true in the mud?
I had had a miserable week with a bad tum induced by my own negligence. I keep forgetting I am wheat intolerant. So friday and saturday was carefully carbing up and hydrating well. I had cornflakes in the morning, then fuelled up some more with my home made gluten free flapjacks. Yum! Definate go-go power! (to run that is!). A small mug of hot chocolate, then it was time for a quick wee before joining the back of the queue ready for the race to start.
It was Angela's fault that I had signed up for this race. She has an aversion to mud and water! Nothing like a baptisim of fire then to confirm or elay fears! It was her birthday so I bought her some waterwings to wear, inscribed with motivating messages. She wore those with pride, and great patience for the entire race. I had signed up to keep her company and safe. Oh, I and I thought it might be a little bit of fun too!
There were a few of the Reading Park Runners at the event and we mingled with them initially in the race queue. Peter and the Gang quickly broke away, with the rest of the race entrants, leaving Angela and myself to slowly bring up the rear as unofficial race sweepers. Angela still had a bad knee incurred from the Great South Run, so our aim was to just survive and finish. I also was feeling a little underpar from recent bad tum.
The other entrants all seemed to be appropriately or inappropriately/bizarrely dressed for the event. Quite a few Young Things were in shorts and singlets! I knew there was going to be mud and trees. I was covered head to toe in fabric to help minimise injury and stay warm. In hindsight, not only was this most necessary and essential, but saved myself from some real humdinger cuts and bruises!
The first 5 miles were fairly uneventful. A couple of sandy water loaded holes to amble through, a few small hills to trip up. We were chatting quite animatedly about this and that, and having an absolute ball. Then we came across the first bog! A very kind steward directed us through the worst of it (I assume he was either bored as most runners had passed through hours ago or he was a malicious sort). Angela's screams could be heard in Edinburgh. Personally I thought it was fun. You stumbled around in waist high thick treacle like stuff wondering where your feet were actually going! Sadly, as we were quite a way behind the other race entrants most of the photographers had gone so there are no photos of our wallowing.
The bog encounters got worse after that. There was the occassional stream to to wade through and remove a layer of heavy clag, but only to be steered through another maze of bog.
I could labour our disasters here but I am sure the reader would find great joy in this account! I had a claustrophobic moment when my right leg was caught in a forked tree root in the thick bog. This bog was like a vacuum sucking you down. You could feet joints pull out of place and ligaments twist around several times as you wriggled up and out. I had to free my left leg then attempt to free my right leg. I really thought I was stuck. Persistance and staying panic free helped. It was odd manoevering (wading or walking through was not easy) through as your feet were tripping through the hidden tree roots and ruts blindly - I use the word blindly as I can neither see or feel due to coldness penetrating through to almost numbing the feet to blocks of ice.
An important note to mention here is that during al this bogginess, when you areally could sustain an awful injury, there were no marshalls. This is a safety issue that both Angela and I are quite cross and perturbed by. This is also probably a reason why we also veered off course, and got lost, putting ourselves at further risk. Luckily I spotted a red vest discarded on a post, that I had seen almost at the beginning! We retraced our steps back and found the correct route again. Losing valuable time and a little humour!
The event was the most surreal experience ever. I traversed forward ten miles but I probabaly did another ten miles sinking below sea level, then climbing back up and out again through the bog.
The bog robbed you of so much energy it was quite exhausting.
I can quite honestly say that was the best PW (Personal Worst) I am ever likely to get, and to be honest, a most enjoyable one. 3hrs 7mins is the unoffical time.
Did I finish with a smile? Oh yes, and dragged Angela over the finishing line singing "Happy Birthday" to her!
A big thankyou to Peter Cook for driving. Plus for coming to find us in the last section. Yes, I did have his car keys, and as he had finished in 1hr30something, he had been waiting a long time to get to his clean clothes and food!
A very happy birthday, Angela. How about the Spa next year for the mudpack facial?
I arrived home tired and very muddy. I had mud and bruises in places I didn't possible! I had deep embedded mud that wouldn't scrub out! The family had cooked a wonderful Roast dinner. They enjoyed a peaceful evening as I mellowed on the sofa in the evening. I did feel stiff and sore during the evening, but kept up the stretches.
Monday morning I am bouncing around (albeit slowly) without any injuries. Quite incredible really as my right hamstring pinged like mad on the last hour!
Now off for a sports massage with Vanessa.. that will wake me up!
add on - just had sports massage; have a tear in right hamstring, and strained left quad connectors/ligaments-Vanessa has suggested no running/sprinting/lunging/kettlercise, anything lower body and just rest, rest rest, for a week! Something I am not very good at but will heed the advice. Plus lots of warm up of the afflicted areas to massage then ice.