Over the years I have cheered on many of my clubmates whilst they competed in this 20 mile road race in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire and I did it for the first time myself last year which makes it all the more baffling as to why I should be daft enough to do it again this year!
Happily my sister only lives about five miles down the road from the race so I spent a very pleasant Saturday evening being looked after regally and discussing plans for our forthcoming Mediterranean cruise. Alas 7.30 on Sunday morning arrived all too soon and I woke up to pouring rain and a howling gale, oh joy, my favourites! After a cup of tea and slice of toast I set off and as usual I arrived way too early – they were only just setting up the finishing tent so it was back to the car where I watched with abject horror as the rain turned to snow!
Half an hour before the start I ventured out again wrapped in my throwaway plastic poncho and I must confess I came within an inch of saying “sod it” and returning home – I run for fun and these conditions were not my idea of fun! Luckily I bumped into a couple of my clubmates who insisted that the forecast was excellent (they lied!) and I also spied a fellow competitor in a crop top and skimpy running knickers (happily it was a girl!) so I thought I’d better “man up” and give it a go! We were grouped into pens according to anticipated finishing time and then walked a quarter of a mile or so to the start and thankfully we didn’t have too long to wait before the hooter sounded and we were on our way.
It is a two lap course which is described as undulating but having now lived in the fens for almost two years I would describe it as mountainous! The rain continued to fall and I continued to plod along completing the first 10 miles in just over 1hr 45min which I wasn’t too displeased with, I also saw my sister and brother-in-law waving at me though I think I’ll have to teach them how to be a little more vocal as supporters! The second lap saw me being overtaken (including Scooby Doo!) by more people than I managed to overtake and I was a minute a mile slower for the second lap. The rain relented about 3 miles from the end and the sun was actually making an effort (though not altogether succeeding) to peep between the clouds and I crossed the finish line in 3hrs 39mins 07secs which beat my 3:40 target but was 6 mins slower than last year but then I am a year older!
No bling was on offer but all finishers received a quality hoodie and a goodie bag full of some rather nice scoff thanks to ALDI! It’s amazing how nice a cheese and tomato bap tastes after a 20 mile run! Back to my sisters for a cuppa and a vow never to do it again though I will probably relent as, despite all my moaning, it is rather a nice race! I’m hoping it has set me up for the Marathon of the North on May 6th but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that two weeks of high living on the aforementioned cruise could well put a spoke in that particular wheel!