On the 20th of August I was in Wales, on holiday. The reason for choosing Wales was easy: I was going to take on the challenge of Racing a Train. Sounds very different I thought. I like different. I signed up!Doesn’t it look fab? My family would be on the train and I would run. Everyone would happy.
Unusually this race takes place on a Saturday ……. and in the afternoon. It turns out that afternoon races are not good for me. There is far too much time to get nervous. I was really nervous. It appears that I was stepping right out of my comfort zone with this race.
So lets put this into context….
I am a fen girl who is used to running on the flat with relatively dry weather. This race takes place in Wales which is wet and hilly. Gales were predicted on the day of the race along with rain. We had travelled down in rain on the Friday and it had continued to rain on Saturday morning. It was going to be muddy! The wind was not that bad for a town on the sea-side but would still be a factor when running the race.
As we arrived in the town where the race started we saw some runners completing the races from the morning. They looked tired and quite muddy. This just added to my mounting feeling of dread. I soon texted my friend saying that I just wanted it to start as I knew that I would be alright once it started.
Lining up at the start it appeared that I as slightly better prepared than my brother who had somehow failed to charge his watch! As the train whistle rang out to start the race we set off. My brothers words of advice echoed around my head: save some energy for the second half as it is more uphill.
Predictably I set off faster than I would have liked but we did have the wind behind us. I managed the first 6 miles in exactly an hour which I was pleased with as the terrain was uneven. I even got to wave at what I thought might be my family on the train as it steamed past! As we got to about half way the ground began to slip away quite steeply to one side – one poor man nearly fell into the bracken a couple of times. At this point I decided that safety had to come first which was just as well as it got a LOT steeper after this point.
Just after the half way point the path became very narrow and steep. I slowed to a walk but was very aware of those behind me so at the first opportunity I decided to stop to let them past only to find that they were happy walking and ended up holding me up! (Trust me to be so thoughtful of others!)
Once we had passed this part we came to the next, unexpected ‘obstacle’ – a bog.
We can’t go over it, we can’t go through it. OH no! We have to go through it.
Squelch, squerch, squelch, squerch!
(Excerpt from the well known children’s book: We’re going on a Bear Hunt)
It was FAB!
By now I was really getting into my stride. I suppose that I now knew that there was no time pressure, I was just here to enjoy it so I started taking photos.(There was a lovely marshal by this waterfall who actually took my photo with it but I shall spare you that image!)
I would just like to add here that the marshals at this event were the most amazing people ever. I may have been in a vest but these people had to stand in the driving wind and rain for a long time, in the middle of nowhere. They all smiled and were polite. They were nothing short of awesome, especially as a lot of them were not exactly young.
The 14 mile race took me 2 hours and 44 minutes. The elevation gain was 413 metres. Not fast, not flat and VERY MUDDY. I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. Would I do it again? Definitely. Trail running rocks.