All’s Fair in Mud and War

After my very successful Blackland Downs Challenge Race 2 weeks ago, I lined up at the start of the Hogweed Mimsy Muggle today, full of hope that I would have another really successful day. I was wrong and I was right…

The 5×50 Challenge has continued to surprise and delight me. Over the last 2 weeks, I have run near my house, in the Cotswolds and the Chilterns and done my first parkrun with my lovely dog, Alfie.

I’ve found that making myself cover at least 5 km every single day (usually running) hasn’t been a chore, but rather brought a new level of enjoyment from my exercise. For a couple of days I’ve ‘done my 5’ earlier on, then got out again later, for the joy of it. I’m still staggered at the new strength I’ve got ‘just from’ going out every day, even if a lot of my runs have been easy little trots by my standards.

Back to today.

The start of the race goes down a fairly steep path. I hammered down, leading the field out, fairly sure the faster runners would soon cruise past me once things levelled out. Except they didn’t. I stayed in front, and soon it was just me with one other runner, Stephen Old at my shoulder. I could tell the rest of the field weren’t that near, because the tell-tale sounds of metallic gate-catch slamming weren’t to be heard behind us after we’d gone through them. I experienced the now familiar ‘5×50’ feeling of things just seeming a bit easier than they may have been previously.

Underfoot, it was very muddy over much of the off-road sections, which slowed us a little. I think my Inov8 X-Talons coped better than Stephen’s shoes, which definitely helped me to hold him off.

We were a little over half-way round, and ran through the village of Tresham. A marshal we’d just passed told us there’d be another on the road in the village. We couldn’t see one, nor could we see any arrows to direct us, so we ran out of the village, on the road. Stephen and I agreed that we really would feel better if we saw a sign we were still en route. After a couple of minutes, we turned back and returned to the village. This time we saw the very sharp turn down a steep track to the first drinks station that we’d missed, with a little piece of red and white tape in a position that you wouldn’t spot unless you pretty much looked over your shoulder as you ran past it the right way. The marshal had been caught out and missed our arrival. We were rather frustrated at having given up a lead of c3 minutes.

Stephen had got a sudden spurt on as we got back on track and was steadily pulling away from me. I’d wondered if he’d been saving himself for the second half, and he obviously had. That was fine, but I hated the idea of being beaten by whoever had passed us whilst we’d been off track. I could see Stephen catching 2 other runners, John Stokes and Tom Bailey, who looked to be moving at a pace that I could beat too. Stephen continued to recede, but John and Tom appeared closer every time they came back into view around a corner. The detour had thrown me a little, and I think I’d slowed down more than I otherwise would have, but still felt good and cruised past John and Tom without too much drama.

The final part of the race was a steep climb through a field and a strip of woodland, a levelling off climb through another field, then a few hundred meters of level bridal track to the finish. The last couple of marshals had told me there were 2 runners in front of me. I’d seen no signs of the ‘other’ runner, and wondered whether Stephen had caught him. With no one in view ahead or behind on the track, I cruised to the finish in 3rd place.

Stephen had won, pulling nearly 4 minutes on me. 2nd place went to Jonathan Gledson, over a minute further back. I don’t think he would have beaten me if I’d not gone wrong, so I had lost 1 place: my day hadn’t been successful in that sense. However, the day was actually a great success: to come 3rd having lost about 1 km on the field felt like a real triumph. There weren’t any really fast runners doing the Mimsy this year; good luck to counteract my bad luck and get me 3rd place. Without getting lost I would still only have run it about as fast as last year (albeit in much muddier conditions this year), which earned me 9th place then. If I whinged, even just to my myself, about ‘losing’ a place, I’d have to then turn around and tell myself, “Yeah, but you shouldn’t ‘really’ have troubled the top few places anyway.” So no whinging, just pleasure at a race well run.

The Muggles don’t award age category prizes, just 1-3 for male and female, so I got a prize, a lovely hand-made ‘trophy’ plate. My 2nd ever prize, only 2 weeks after the last one: yay!


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One response to “All’s Fair in Mud and War

  1. Pingback: Kinnoull, What Happened There? | 3:15 Marathon for Excellent, Pioneers of Sand Dams

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