What a wonderful end to a fulfillingly, tiring year……
Well the last marathon was upon me and loads of emotions were running through my head in the days even the last couple of weeks leading up to this day. All the attention that has been building over the last 12 months was escalating to this point and I was aware that it would all soon end. It’s been a great platform to get out information about the charities, Lynch Syndrome Uk and Poole Hospital at school, on the races, through Facebook and this blog. I wasn’t prepared for the enormous amount of generosity too, mind!!
Getting up on the last morning in question wasn’t too bad, I had tried to get to bed early but that never happens. My brain is always pumped the night before, so I try and wind down reading a great inspirational book to instill some positivity and direction into my wandering thoughts. Book in question at the moment is Vassos Alexanders’ Don’t stop me now. Lent to me by a fellow running enthusiast at work and gratefully received, as its a very easy read that you can pick up and put down, whenever the need takes you. What I love about Vassos is his never ending enthusiasm to get outside and ‘explore’ every terrain and territory. No matter where he goes, the trainers always come out! That’s a habit I can totally relate to, the thirst for exploring and definitely covering terrain my feet haven’t trod before.
So back to the morning in question! Pumped, psyched and totally ready for running and exploration on land usually off limits. Bovington Marathon is held over MOD tank training ground and organised by the quality running purveyors that are White Star. Having already run their half marathon over this same ground last year, I was stoked to be running this full marathon as my last in the challenge. Not only is this territory near home but apt for my final supporting the local hospital charity. There was one picture that sealed the deal to have Bovington as my final and that was this picture of fellow running buddy from the IOW marathon, Jenny Walker Leach. This picture showed an area not ran in the half last year and I wanted to explore it!! It only takes a picture, map or positive comment of a run to capture my interest initially and this pic won me over.
Gathering running necessities up and heading to the car, next stop Mr Weaver pick up! This running nut has been a constant support on my challenge and you may remember him from my previous blogs of ‘Portaloo-gate’ at Larmer Marathon, ‘dropped like a hot potato’ at Giants Head marathon and IOW marathon and now my ‘saviour’ at the final hurdle. Such a constant running force flying under the radar but is guaranteed to be the sick perverse animal that should be on a carabiner lead at any event 😉 ha ha It’s these strong individuals like this guy and many others in my running club Lytchett Manor Striders, that have kept me going the whole year!!
Arriving at Bovington Tank Museum, registration point and starting post we managed to meet our fellow striders, Scott Mordew (aka Victor Meldew….sorry couldn’t help myself Scott), Scott Parfitt, Dave Smith and Karl Whitfield. Scott P, scantily dressed like all speedy machines was bearing the weather through gritted teeth, bless him! However, Karl (who’s knocked out plenty of marathons and ultras in the past) and Dave (Mr International runner) were eager too get this one done like we all were, decided they would also support me in my endeavors too, bless them x
Race brief completed and on the starting line, we were soon off! This is it…the last (for this year anyway 😉 ) Running out of the museum car park we were snapped by our ‘out of action’ running bud and supporter Steve Cole.
The first couple of miles led us through streams we tried to avoid at all costs this early in a race. Reason being, it can play havoc with our feet over longer distances if wet too soon. Leading quite a fast eager pace was not our plan either but I think we all felt good at the beginning and just a tad enthusiastic t’boot. That soon depleted as the trails took on some inclines hampering our good strides. Stopping and starting can be good and bad. If you’re not looking for times (which most of us don’t on trail runs) it’s great for a breather. However, it does cool the body down too quick which can make trying to start running in the later stages, more difficult, as your body muscles start to seize.
It’s at these points you look around, enjoy (term used loosely depending where you are in a race) catch up with your running mates and just talk crap or sing in Dave’s case!!! This makes a good run for me. It’s amazing how we inspire each other constantly….we’re a mad bunch but I wouldn’t change this way of life now. A lot of us all say, we wish we had started earlier in life….so my only advice to any novice or someone not yet out there…..try it, get out! You’ll never regret trying, the only regret is hesitating or wasting time pondering. Don’t think, DO!!!!
Arriving at aid stations are a necessity to keeping the positive moods and physical strength going. It’s the welcomed reprieve our body needs but also the best catch up with the volunteers, also running goofballs. The empathetic hugs, genuine concern and constant laughter lifts your spirits for the next unknown, wearing miles.
No more weary than when you see front runners heading towards you shouting ‘has anyone else passed you along here?!!’ No way, Scott Parfitt, usually a lead runner and another were looking confused and exasperated. ‘No’, we shouted feeling gutted for them as they about turned and retraced their steps, no doubt costing them valuable time and miles. We were at 9/10 miles at that point which meant they were prob 15/16, I reckon. Poor sods, it happens sometimes especially on a course that interweaves so many sections that all look similar. I dread to think of the logistics setting up these events. I, like many, put our faith in event organisers and take it for granted. However, I get lost on my own runs a fair few times, so it’s great to know there are people around for support and safety.
Plodding on….. and it was plodding at this point! The type of terrain certainly challenged us in many ways. The going under foot changed constantly, shingle stones, rocks, mud, sand, hilly, dips, twists, turns, woodland reprieves of bouncy moss to boggy swampy swimming pools (not puddles I tell ya) (photos courtesy of Rab McAvoy)
How we kept going is not something we allow to go through our minds….. it’s always a ‘get it done’ attitude. However, once our mind drifts through a negative barrier, this is when our fellow runners really stand the test of time! Swearing is a common occurrence, growling, grunting or heavy breathing when you can’t be arsed to talk as too knackered, mentally and physically. I have to say Tony Weaver (i’m sporting a foot injury but seem to be bouncing along quite merrily) holds the most patient attitude known to me….especially when I reach the ‘grinch phase’ of my enjoyment level. A friendly push or pull up a hill, even when i’m sure he’ll rather kick me into oblivion….what a trouper! At points, being the slowest runner in this little group, all the guys showed absolute gentlemanly behaviour (ok maybe not Weaver here 😉 ) They all took their turns running next to me, not leaving me behind. Diamond geezers x
We even made the most of photo opportunities enjoying all the toys left on course for our amusement he he he
Although, when we got to the Monkey enclosures of Monkey World…..I started to wonder who the real animals were?! Think the lads were now showing their manly attributes communicating with their counterparts. I may have caught the chimps acknowledgement of disgust but I’m gutted I didn’t manage to catch the boys in full swing ha ha, It was hilarious 😉
In the last few, ok many more miles, we got through knowing we were on the return and obviously, familiar tracks now. All in all, I would say this was no doubt by far, the most enjoyably testing marathon, just shy of 28 miles!!! This time, homeward bound, we were galloping through the many streams we had avoided near the start. Quite refreshing now, cooling our weary muscles and cleaning our mud-clad trail shoes. Just less than a mile to go, we spied another Lytchett Strider hobbling with a lady runner….. Scott M was sporting a bad limp. Reassuring him, he was close to the finish and seeing he was well looked after, we dumped him like a hot potato and proceeded to the finish!
What was about to happen, unbeknownst to me, was a 12 month challenge climax I will always hold dear and feel immensely proud of. Lytchett Striders are the best, they gave me a welcome home like no other and it was hard not to cry. Many were there to see me in and make my ending so memorable. I can’t thank them enough especially as they had been waiting ages in the freezing cold brrrrr xx
Its not too late to support the amazing causes that I have run for this year:
To date you all have been that generous the total for both charities combined stands at: £6,013.48 Thank you x