Our friend Jo lives in Suffolk, and we’d seen on Facebook that she was interested in the Positive Steps Bury to Clare Challenge. We’d not really considered it as it was the week before the SVN Jeskyns Challenge and Suffolk is quite a way to go. But in the absence of signing up to the SVN event, and me not having a half marathon event for May, we signed up.
It is an odd distance, and it is a distance away, but the route looked lovely and after the adventure runs of a few weeks ago, I was keen for running to take me to see new places.
This race was going to be a run of a few firsts:
- first 18 miler
- first point-to-point run (usually laps, circular, out-and-backs or at least returning to somewhere near the start)
- first time getting a coach to the start (you park at the finish and then coach it to the start)
I’d managed to put it mainly out of mind, unsure of what to think of it, but having run 15 miles in April at the Ranscombe Spring Challenge on much hillier terrain, I thought it would be OK (even after a complete lack of training due to ankle issues).
On the day, I was nervous. Not helped by the sat nav taking me miles and miles through little villages, taking forever when all I wanted to do was pee! On the coach I was slightly worried, but tried to calm myself with the fact that there was a walking option for this event, so I would not be the last to finish (as long as I ran at least some of it – the walkers set of 90mins before the runners).
We met up with Jo at the Bury-end in a park that seemed to be hosting a dog show! Distracting myself with looking at dogs, catching up a bit with Jo and queuing for the loo, we were soon walking to the start which seemed like a mile away.
Once off, I managed to run the first mile, but then easily settled into walking a lot. I pushed at times to get away from one group of women who were talking utter nonsense, and telling bad jokes; ‘are we finished yet!?’ *giggle* *giggle* – I wasn’t going to have that in my ear for 18 miles!
At one corner, very early on, I made sure to look behind and check I wasn’t last. I wasn’t: I saw at least a couple of people in red – my safety net. But at another corner, marshaled by a man on a bike, as soon as I came through, he came past us all on the way to the next post. I wanted to shout to him that I wasn’t last! There are more people to come through! But I didn’t.
I kept passing and being passed by one man, and he asked if we were last. I told him of the others, but we never saw them again, so he doubted their esixtence. I then basically stuck with ‘Paul’ for the rest of the run.
I had wanted to do well on this run, but it was established early that that wasn’t to be. A 3:45 would have been amazing, sub-4 pretty good, and under 4:30 acceptable. I had my race screen app set up on my watch to estimate my finish time, but after checkpoint one at ~7 miles, I didn’t really check on it/I didn’t really care.
So, Paul and I stuck together for the next 3.5 hours – walking, talking and occasionally running. We shared stories of other races, NHS, travel, cancer, how to hang medals, running accessories – we covered it all! The route was lovely, and I did try to look up occasionally and take it in, but the ground was so uneven, it was hard to not look down to check you weren’t about to fall into mud and/or nettles.
After checkpoint two (nearly missed as we missed a turn and very luckily we bumped into a marshal driving to remove a sign just a little down the road so quickly retreated and got back on track!), we gave up on running – it was going to be ~5 miles of intense, power-walking.
As we came over a hill and down into Clare, there was great relief that the end was in sight. Paul had already told me that at the beginning he saw a sign that actually said the route was 18.5 miles, but with the added bit from our wrong turn, who knew what it was going to be!?
Once in the village of Clare, I found a familiar face walking towards us – Adam had finished two hours ago, and was worried about where I was (I was far over my worst time already!), so he joined us on out walk through the village, and then ran off as Paul and I discussed when to start running towards a glorious, but delayed finish! On the downhill I started running, Paul reluctantly joining me, but he was glad that he did as we overtake some more walkers in the last few metres.
Storming towards the finish, Jo cheering me on, we crossed the line. It ended up being 18.6 miles in 4:39. That was slow. But I didn’t mind, I had a good time – even though I probably would have run more if it weren’t for him, Paul kept me sane and the countryside was a delight. But boy, was I glad it was over!?
I drank a lot, and ate a lot, and lay down on the floor a lot. I was knackered, but happy.
Adam had done amazingly, as always – not happy with just the 18 miles, he decided to add on another 1.5 miles in going the wrong way as well and chasing down some cyclists instead of runners!
We discussed this at length during the run, Paul and I, and we were unsure as to whether we could recommend this route. We both agreed that we could probably not run it all, although it wasn’t that hilly, and that it was very pretty, but would we do it again? I’m not sure I would, and if I did then it would be as a walker.
The event itself though was very well organised, very fairly priced for the distance (£22, with £16 going to charity), well supported (lots of yummy things!) and a bit different by being point-to-point. I would definitely take part in another Positive Steps event.
Next up is Harvel5 this Saturday – a beautiful, friendly little race we’ve run and enjoyed the past few years. We have a big group of us coming along this time, which is always nice, as is the pub dinner afterwards! 🙂