This was my first SVN event in a while and was one of my favorites as it was part of the Tomb stone medal series from SVN which included the Somme events last year.
Specifically the event commemorated 100 years since the WW1 battle of Pachendaele. This was one of the bloodiest battles of WW1 based in Flanders fields in Belgium and it is thought that upto 500,000 men lost their lives. The event is always very emotional.
I ran this route before on the Chocathon and Fudgeathon last year on its 10K loop. Today we were on the 4.4. mile route which meant that 6 laps were a marathon. Again my knee was an issue and I could not really run downhill which meant a lot of walking today as this route had zero flat.
As is traditional in these events, a prayer was followed by a 1 minute silence and we were set on our way by the sound of trench whistles.
This was a pretty uneventful race with laps being ticked off in roughly an hour. There was lots of walking. Weather was humid with the odd shower and conditions underfoot were pretty good.
The first 1.5 miles of this lap is down hill. Out of the aid station for about 600m we traversed an area of rough flinty trip hazard ridden roughness (where I saw 2 falls) before the trail opens up to a wide forest trail that plunges quite steeply for over a mile. This is where all the time is made on this loop. Its a pity that I cannot run downhill at the moment. Bottoming out you immediately go into a long steep section that was for me today only walk-able. Cresting you got a little rest bite before another sharp steep downhill followed by a very steep uphill (200m). Flattening out at last for about half a mile you turned right onto a long long uphill drag. Turning right into a lovely forested section on grass we were led onto another open fire trail that undulated its way back to the flinty rough section back to the aid station.
The aid station was full of goodies today. I walked a lot and ate a lot.
I tooed and frooed today with Philip and Elaine and talked to anyone who would listen. It was nice to see the lady from Folkestown (orange and white check in photo) go out for 3 laps and end up doing her first marathon. That was sweet.
Half marathon was in 2hrs 50 mins and I finished the full in just over 6 hrs. This was pretty far down the standings and it was a long day. All the usual guys where here, some as part of a quad and there was a super atmosphere. Gary continues to extend his SVN ultra count and mine stayed the same today.
The event was exactly what we have come to expect from SVN.
Photos Philip McEvoy and Philip Rand
Stats for today (forgot to turn watch off)