Trailscape: You are likely to run a fair bit further than the quoted distance

Saturday 29th November 2014, 1.16pm: “Well done, first dog back”… Pardon, did I just hear 1st… a 1st??? Followed up with “Congratulations, you’re also 2nd lady across the line”. Huh?!? Wow, wow, wow!086

Now let’s back up here, 1 hour and 16mins previous to this I was embarking not only on my first Cross Country race since the days of PE skirts and pigtails, but also my longest ever race of 13kms, my first race with Daisy the dog and my first race outside the safety of the SS postal code… lots of new territory to cover and, with my standard pre-race nerves and the horror of the elevations totalling 965ft etched in my mind, my aim was to finish, that’s all, just finish and get Daisy her goodie bag!

I entered the Trailscape “10km” (aka 13km) race on the back of some great recommendation from fellow Flyer and TailRunner, Amanda Stevens, who enjoyed the previous race in the series in Essex so much she practically signed up for the next one in Cuxton, Kent before she’d washed the mud out of her trailshoes! And following in suit Emily Spray signed up for the half marathon and Vicky Irvine the 10km with Rafa the dog, so there was us, an army of orange heading off to Kent to get muddy!095

The race HQ was a little church hall set up on a hill, all very well manned and with the 3 different races (10km, half and full marathon) having staggered start times there weren’t too many people milling around and nice short queues for registration, bag drop and most importantly the loos! Everyone was really friendly, in great spirits and really friendly towards having dogs involved. After a short briefing of all the do’s and don’ts we made our way to the start line ready for the off at 12.00. Standard procedure meant that us Canicrosses had to start at the very back making the first mile, which was pretty much single file, very slow at around walking pace… but that old saying of 6 legs is faster than 2 kicked in and at every given opportunity (slowly, slowly, catchy monkey) Daisy and I started picking our way forward in the field of runners.

The route really was fantastic… Very muddy and extremely hilly, but also very pretty… It took you through the woods, across fields, over numerous stiles, up long slow hills and sharp short nasty ones then down the other side, some may say hellish in places but I really couldn’t fault it, it was pure and simple cross-country and all the better for having my dog with me. I had no idea what I was letting myself in for but I can honestly say I enjoyed every single step I took, even when I was caked in mud, my thighs were burning, my stitch was aching and my lungs couldn’t fit anymore oxygen in, I kept going and I loved it! At times we were completely on our own, couldn’t see anyone in front or behind, but didn’t feel concerned at all, where they lacked on number of marshalls the signage was faultless! Plus Daisy had an uncanny knack of knowing exactly where she was going, and the sun was out, bonus! There was one mid-way station where they checked everyone in and it gave you time for a breather and some hydration… it was cleverly positioned – at the bottom of the longest hill in the race!082

So after a fab run, some water stops, couple of photo opportunities, Daisy and I crossed that finishing line in 1hr 16min with the biggest smile on my face and lots of personal achievements under my belt! I was exuberant, and being the first one back from the Southend posse, it was so nice to have the support of a complete load of strangers around me that didn’t know me but more than happy to share in my jubilation! After collecting our medals, t-shirts and goodie bags for myself and dog, and extra prize for being 2nd placed lady (did I mention that?!?), I was lucky enough to cheer in Emily, “half marathon” at 2hr 30min 090and then Vicky and Rafa “10km” at 2hrs!! (Sadly Amanda had to pull out due to injury, but she was there with us in spirit!!).

Would I do this again? Definitely, without a doubt… may even consider the half marathon!!

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