Saturday 18th October 2014 brought the first race of the new Trailscape series. This was meant to be my first marathon but luckily they offered three distances so if injury stops your initial plan you can downgrade to the other distances offered which were marathon, half marathon or 10k.
So off we went…did I mention I run with my dog? Well this is an event for both dog and dogless runners. So off we went feeling like intrepid explorers (with a sat nav) and headed off to Newport for the venue which true to its adverts was a stones throw away from the train station.
Worried about parking and a pre race poo (dog not me) we arrived early. Slightly freaked out as only a few scattered runners were about (later realising this was because of a staggered start and runners utilising the train which arrived hourly).
Time and storm clouds thankfully swiftly passed and soon we were listening to the pre run brief. The usual health and safety. Diesel (dog) got bored and so did I. Being a canicross runner I had already drilled the race organiser with emails so wasn’t expecting any surprises till I heard “the rumours are true the course is longer than 10k after all it is measured in trail miles” not too sure how the Marathon runners gonna feel about that but at 10k turning out to be 13k we were still happy.
With a lick (Diesel not me) we were off to the start line. 31 runners jostling for position. As usual canicross to start at back. As usual canicross runners soon weave to front and after a short distance of tarmac we had to cross a pedestrian footbridge over train tracks, this meant we also had to navigate a flight of steps for the finish too! Feeling for the marathon runners here too! After this congested start finally in the open fields. Being in open fields I still had no GPS. Diesel was gunning like it was 5k PB so had no idea how to control our pace or what it was. Came up to one runner wearing headphones so took the hint and ignored her still waving my Garmin arm in the air like a woman trying to hail a cab. I decide my only hope is to relax and go with the pupster till I catch another runner or get a signal.
I spy an orange top….is it a mirage? Is that a Flyer nope it’s a Jaffa! She tells me I am not running my intended 10min/mile training pace but 8min/mile (Ian is gonna kill me – we are racing) so we raced! Had a brilliant chat with Jaffa girl runner (Ipswich Running Club) till we got to some stock fencing. We were both pretty sure we were on the right track so hopped over, but she took the lead as I had Diesel lead and had to throw him over! Then it was just me, myself and I or more realistically me, mud in eye!
Stock fence aside the course was well marked out with red crosses or orange arrows (yes orange!) and buff ticket tape hanging for branches. I hi-fied every one. The course wound it’s way over fields and through woodland where the paths were so narrow in places that one of the overhanging trees whipped my head band off and another scraped my back like an overzealous lover. We carried on through the woods with leaves silently falling from the trees like confetti making me feel like an autumnal bride.
Combination of mud and leaves made for heavy footwear mocking the carefully selection of trainers, grip and gait analysis. I wasn’t sure if a trail runner does stop to get mud off their trainers which were fast looking like spice girl style mud platforms and made the total of 5 styles to cross precarious. Mud platform trainers and carrying your dog over your shoulder for the double height styles maybe not for the faint hearted. I did worry for the petit canicrosser who had a boxer (she ran with a helper who took her dog across whilst she climbed over).
Was pretty chuffed with the checkpoint where we got whooped and clapped in by the Marshalls and a bowl of water was promptly poured for Diesel which he lapped up whilst we chatted about the wonders of dogs (she had an English cocker). When you canicross PB really does go out the window. We stopped a few more times for the pupster to have a mud wallow and drink some more water. I always figure the pace he starts us off at more than makes up for any pit stops. So I relaxed and enjoyed the countryside. One of the signs took us on a hairpin bend and luckily and I mean luckily a dog walker passing by had a copy of the OS map we were provided at the start and confirmed that I wasn’t about to cross private land but that indeed was part of the course.
There were about 4 marshalls I think in the course, some positioned where you reached an unexpected busy road or a blind corner to wave you safely across. The other marshals were posted at the top of a hill which due to the mud I found faster to walk than run without the use of any crampons. Of course as soon as we were in eye shot of marshalls I pretended my heavy breathing was due to my running and not the vertical climb.
As the motivational sign placed on the course at the peak of the hill read “what goes up must come down” YES the last mile all downhill so we let gravity take course and like a scene from Avatar soared down the hill preparing to overtaking a male lead runner (it’s not a race – oh yes it is) to a T1000 finish. Sadly however the timing was done via a dibber around your wrist and by the time myself and my pupster had slowed to a stop I had well and truly passed the Finish line so I have only my Garmin to tell me my true time but we didn’t get a signal at the start so will never know! Ooooh the mystery!
Here we go goodies:-
3 yes 3 everything but the cow delicious smoothies
1 medal (should have got one for Diesel)
1 quality TShirt
1 chocolate protein bar
The doggy goody bag:-
Lily’s Kitchen cloth bag
Lily’s kitchen bedtime biscuits (diesel actually has these!!!!!) Lily’s kitchen dog food
3 types of Lily’s kitchen dry food
Inside the village hall were tea, coffee, homemade cake and with your timings up on a screen. Outside was the incredible Ruperts Street vegan food, I had a chick pea curry but next time will go for the sweet potato burger looks incredible! We hung in both till I felt ready to drive home but some canicrossers still had not come back so I ended up babysitting another’s spaniel, no hardship for dog lover like me, whilst their friends doing the longer marathon or half marathon runs were located. Surprisingly a few experienced runners had got lost and others found the ‘trail mile’ more challenging or maybe disheartening having trained for 26.2 miles to run more would take a lot of strength.
We loved our fake 10k (13k) and have booked onto the next one in the series 29th November Cuxton Kent.
Worth noting the mandatory kit list for the half and full marathon (there are spot checks):-
Long sleeve outer layer or waterproof jacket
Basic first aid kit
Hydration: minimum 500ml
Mobile phone (required for all runners)
Energy bars/snack bars
However for now I will take my sisters advice “run like phoebe” and enjoy it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_0Ta_DIWuU (Run like Phoebe)