TRAIL RUNNING AT ITS BEST – LOTS OF MUD, HILLS AND SMILES!
I missed the first race of the Rail to Trail Trailscape series so after hearing from Amanda on how great it had been I signed up for the second one. I chose the half marathon distance to push myself but all I really hoped for was that the rain stayed away on the day and that my chest infection would find a different owner.
The organisers requested that anyone doing the half or full marathon carry many items for emergencies including a foil blanket, a waterproof, 500ml of hydration, a whistle and a first aid kit. The only part of this list that I actually had was the whistle part and this was a dog training one at that!! If I got into trouble the dogs of Kent would come running to my rescue! So like a runner about to be married I had something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue (in the form of an emergency poncho!) – now just time to get myself down the muddy aisles! It was to also be the first time I’d ever run with a rucksack on, this was going to be interesting!
Vicky and I arrived together and got our ‘dibbers’ and numbers from the smiling helpers in the church hall. After much deliberation in my head of ‘how the hell will I ever run with all this kit on my back’ and ‘ooh I found another pocket, what shall I put in it ‘ the horn sounded, I waved goodbye to Vicky and I set off through the churchyard into the Kent countryside.
It all started quite well, I got used to the slight jiggle in the rucksack, found a few ladies to run with and got stuck into the mud. After about 6 miles my lungs were already burning and felt like they were the size of two deflated balloons, time to get my cough on and try to get some oxygen in! This worked to my amazement and over the next few miles I started to feel much better. I followed all the perfectly placed markers and Buff tape through the stunning countryside with the sun on my back with a real trail running head on! Right I thought, time to get past these chatting ladies in front and to do this I’ll use this nice fast downhill to take my advantage. Off I soared straight past them like a professional downhill skier, my Innov8 Talons were chewing their way through the mud and leaves and I was feeling more confident with every step. I could see a fellow speedy downhill skier in my sights so thought I’d catch her and join her for the next half of the slope. ‘Just go with it Emily’, ‘trust your feet’, I got quicker and quicker and just as I was nearly at the bottom I turned to say hi to my fellow runner and promptly slid on the now hard mud (which my shoes did not like) and tumbled head over heels landing face first in the brambles. One minute my shoes were digging in, the next I was sliding around like Bambi. The first thing that hurt was my ego then soon after was my chin that seemed to have taken most of the impact! The ladies I’d passed checked I was ok (how embarrassing but lovely), the girl in front also stopped and said “I thought you looked a bit out of control” and up I got, brushed the thorns off me and pretended like nothing had happened! I was a bit wobbly after this and dropped the pace significantly to regain some composure and try to check out the damage. Luckily all I could see were a few scratches and a muddy leg so once Id had a word with myself I continued on to see what else this race had in store!
I ran completely alone now for the next 4-5 miles up a very steep hill, through deep sticky mud and up and over stiles until I caught up with the 10k runners who shared the last part of our route. I followed their rucksackless backs to the big orange trailscape flags of the finish line to get the time of 2hrs 30 over 14miles and 7th lady.
Up on the bank stood Josanne (and Daisy) who received a huge sweaty hug. Josanne screeched with excitement in telling me of her amazing achievement coming in with a shiny 2nd place and we recalled our experiences. She soon pointed out that I looked a bit like Id been in a fight and with a quick check in the mirror whilst washing the blood off my hands I could confirm her observation. The bramble bush had definitely won this battle!
In came Vicky and Rafa looking strong after the 10K, which turned out to be closer to 14K, and we donned the medals for a group photo (sadly missing Amanda and Diesel).
This race was a really friendly, well organised event and made even better by sharing the experience with fellow Flyers and Tailrunners. I got my doggy fix for the week and cannot wait till the next trail run in the series in January. Now then, I’m off to find the tweezers to get these last stubborn thorns out of my hands, face and knees and apply more savlon!