I had a very good feeling about today's race from the outset. The style and tone of the emails. The online race briefing. The description of the aid station. The fact that it was the winner of “Best Rated Off-Road event 2019” from RaceCheck. The fact that I didn't have to wear my vest or worry about GPX because it was loops of a 5k course and the race director was happy for you to just go to your car between laps. So obviously I set up a little aid station in my boot:
Then on top the weather forecast the night before was A-MA-ZING!
As soon as we set off, it was clear it was going to be a beautiful day. The official photographer took this one of me just as I started - this was one of those lovely races where all the pics were free - image credit to Nick @nicksphotogallery
At the beginning I thought seeing other runners was going to be short-lived as we'd soon be spread out over the course. In fact, because the route looped back on itself, by lap 7 I recognised pretty much every other competitor and there was much waving and friendly 'well done's. The route was really beautiful. The autumnal colours combined with lakes around every corner, little streams and blue skies meant for a stunning setting.
Rutland Water and some of the lovely lakes there, although the weather today was somewhat nicer than that day - which was only about a year ago... crazy.
The loop was just under 6k, and at around 5k there was a river crossing. I don't think I've ever done a race before where you had to run over stepping stones?
At the end of the first lap I went to the car and ditched my jacket and gloves and had some water, then headed out for round 2. Quite quickly I got chatting to Dan and Rob, who are both regular marathon runners. It transpired they had done the same race yesterday as well. Both are chasing numbers - Rob told me this was his 72nd marathon and Dan was already well into the hundreds.
As usual, we compared races. It turned out they knew lots of the characters from my other race reports - Lucas the chip shop dude from Seven Deadly Sins, Tim the jogler from Rutland marathon. Dan had run Escape from Meriden (chained edition!) and told me some hilarious stories including being stopped by the police. I told him the dreaded swamp story from Convergence. A lap passed without me noticing. We saw another runner in a New Forest marathon t-shirt and told them about the signs and the Garmin stand and the parking. I wondered if the other dude had hated it as much as me but reflected that if I said anything, he'd probably say, "Oh that's my favourite race and I've run it 10 times". Dan said, "Or he might says, "I'm the race director"..." which made me laugh. The furnace of faux pas beckons...
We talked about Covid. Rob said he thought it was better now because people could be quite disgusting what with all the snot rockets and spitting. Dan said, mock-horrified, "You didn't have to tell everyone though"! I laughed. We walked up the hills. We talked about other races I could potentially do in the Midlands. and
Rob mentioned Big Bear Events do races in Leicestershire and
Warwickshire also. Another 5k went by. The official photographer took this - check out that great social distancing ;-)
At the aid station I had my first mince pie of the year.
Afterwards I ran down the hill and passed her. She turned and smiled, and maybe I imagined it but we had a bit of a shared "girl power" moment, both of us being single women doing our fitness thing, and she called out, "Have a nice day!" and I said, "You too!" and we both smiled. It put me in a good mood for the rest of the lap.
Having a super-happy moment in the sunshine on lap 6! Earlier at the aid station I'd overheard a girl say, "I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than here, doing this, today" and that totally sums up the feeling. I'd got a 'free' day off work (made up of all the unplanned overtime I've done lately), I was out in beautiful woods, doing a marathon that counts towards my challenge, feeling great and the sun was shining. Epic.
A day later I got an email from Trees Not Tees regarding my tree (!) which is now planted somewhere near Glasgow. I generally am strongly in favour of trees instead of t-shirts and also instead of medals in any race shorter than a marathon. I definitely think being given the option is a good idea. I hope more races start doing this in future, especially large races where there's a lot of waste.
I wanted a finish line photo but couldn't get the angle right for a selfie so the kind man at the aid station put gloves on so he could take this for me with my phone. I bought a reusable race cup as they had some nice ones and waited to watch Dan and Rob finish.
Sadly just before I left I checked my email and got a notification that my next marathon (meant to be on Sunday) had just been cancelled due to Covid. Arrrggghh!