This is a blog from the middle of the pack and will detail races from my point of view. i.e. a very average runner.
Saturday, 12 March 2016
Book Day Challenge 6:03:30 29.5 miles
Book Day medal
2nd overall out of 101 finishers.
This was a mid week race and I had taken the day of work to do this. Logistically everything worked like clockwork but I would not do this again (this way) as there is too much risk of things going wrong (one delay would have scuppered me) that would have ended up being an expensive waste of time.
Headed off at the front
First corner (Mud hole)
5am up and dressed and a taxi to the airport. I had left all my gear in the boot of my car that was parked in Gatwick so was travelling light. It was a 7am flight and I was in the lounge at the airport in Dublin by 6am feasting on croissants and anything else I could get my hands on. Fortunately the flight was on time and took off at 7am getting into Gatwick at 8:20am. I was convinced that I had to go through passport control at Gatwick (It took 1 hr coming in from Spain last week) but I had forgotten that from Ireland you are bused to the common travel area and there is no passport control and I was straight through. After leaving the airport the long term parking bus was there in 5 mins and I was in my car and leaving the carpark by 9:00am.
Steady as she goes
The GPS had me 45 mins from Shoreham Woods and indeed I was lucky as 45 mins later I was in the car park. I now had 15 mins to change, find a toilet and make my way to the start to register. I made it with 2 minutes to spare and everything had gone well. WAY TOO TIGHT.
Traviss had been warning everyone all week that this was a hilly challenging course and it would be a swamp and bring the grippiest trail shoes you could find. Not everyone followed his advise and they regretted it enormously. It had pissed rain for days and the course was a complete mud hole. It was also hilly at 475ft climb per lap which made 4250ft climb for a marathon.
The weather forecast had improved from "heavy rain" with light showers to "light rain" with heavy showers. As it turned out we had virtually no rain or showers. The damage however had been done and the whole loop was a big muddy quagmire. Some had come in fancy dress for book day. They lived to regret it.
Mud Mud Mud
Slow but steady
We were off. I went off at the front of the field and was quickly passed by a few but not many of the 100 field. It was just under a 3 mile loop with 9 loops required for a marathon. We started with a slight downhill that as it turned out was the worst part of the course. Just under the mud was many large rocks or bricks and many a soul came a cropper on this section as the day went on. It was slippy, muddy and sloshy. It was also quite steep downhill and took all your wits just to stay upright. At the bottom of the hill you turned left straight into a 200m sloshfest that was wet, muddy and puddly. This quickly led to the first decent climb that started off on a path (driest part of the course) for about 400m before crossing a muddy road and steeply climbing another 200m slippy section (this part was unrunnable for most of the day). Cresting through a heavily wooded area we went downhill steeply for a short time before turning right along a short path. A right turn brought us to probably the muddiest section of the course for a 100m uphill section. I'm not joking when I say the puddles were knee deep if you hit them wrong. As the day went on this section became impossible. Climbing again through ankle deep mud for around 200m we turned right and had a gentle decent (through mud) through the forest to Cardiac Hill. This was a section of steep steep steps up a steep steep hill. On the first lap some tried to run it but that was a waste of time as all you could do was trudge up it (I would visit Cardiac hill 10 times). As we crested the hill we crossed an open field section before going through a kissing gate and descending again on decent trail for a few hundred meters. This ended abruptly with a sharp right turn and a 100m steep steep steep up hill section (for most it was unrunnable). Cresting through another kissing gate we made our was down through a muddy area to a stream. Crossing the stream we climbed more steps and kept climbing for another 200m before turning right for the final section. From here it was gentle uphill to the finish. The first half can only be described as a mud hole that got worse and worse and worse as the day went on. Finally we came onto a path but kept climbing through one last kissing gate until the last 50m downhill to the start finish area.
It was less than 5K but my best lap was 33 minutes and was more like 35/36 as time went on.
There was a hard limit of 7hrs 10 for today and a lot of people had had enough early and finished. Others found it just too tough and finished early. The GPS didnt pick up all the distance or elevation and I came through half marathon in 2hrs 30mins (this was slow). I kept trudging on and the laps kept coming in and the field was visibly thinning. I was on a tight deadline myself having a 18:55 flight back so knew I couldn't really go beyond 4pm. I actually felt Ok all day and as it was pretty slow felt that I could go on beyond marathon at the end of lap 9 so when that came in 5hrs 20 mins I headed out on lap 10. Only 4 would do this and noone went out for 11.
At 6:03 I finished lap 10 and called it a day. It was good enough for 2nd place overall and I would have been 7th at Marathon distance. The medal was awesome as always and I quite liked the new method that was trialled for counting laps even though wet laminated cards proved difficult for the counters.
I changed again in the car (covered in mud) and headed off to Gatwick. I parked up and found I had 30 minutes to spare so went to the lounge. I spotted a spare seat and went to sit down and low and behold was Joe O'Reilly from Crusaders sitting right beside me..... I grabbed a snack and off to the flight which got off on time. A taxi home had me home at 8:30pm and I had enough time for a shower before picking Lindsay up for work. As I said it was too tight to do again but what a day.
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