WHAT: Trail half marathon
WHERE: Newport, Essex
WHEN: 31st October
As it was Halloween, it was appropriate that this run was a little scary. Dressed as a sweaty pumpkin in my bright orange Trailscape T-shirt, I'd spent the first few miles lugging myself through the sticky mud, shocked at just how unfit I felt.
I hesitated at the turn off for the 10k route, tempted to shorten my run and avoid what seemed like my inevitable fate – having to stop and set up camp in a self-built mud hut, living off acorns and poached woodlice, until I mustered the energy to continue running the half marathon because the way I was running, it would take days. Probably weeks!
I guess it's part of the adventure of trail running. You're at the mercy of the elements, the test is not how fast you finish but how you deal with what's thrown your way. On this occasion, we were chucked into slippy, slidey mud that sucked your shoes and your energy each time you put your foot down. It was tough.
Somehow, I made it to the half-way point and the first check point – a chance to pause, fill my face with Jelly Babies and Jaffa Cakes. And get a reality check.
The three volunteers, marshalling that table of sugary joy were having fun. They'd probably been up since the first glimpse of light and had been standing on the trails waiting for us to arrive for hours, yet they were laughing, joking and having a great time. I needed to lighten up.
Once I accepted that this wasn't going to be my fastest half marathon, I relaxed and settled into running. The longer I was out, the more fun I'd have, right? I happily splashed through puddles and hopped over mud, enjoying the appropriately spooky mist that blanketed the essex countryside, the wonderfully windy course and the company of other runners. Anyone who passed me no longer brought dread of getting slower but a new opportunity for conversation.
I'd come out the other side of grumpy doubt and was having fun, so it was a pity that the end came so quickly. I emerged from the trails, back over the railway bridge and straight into the gathering crowd of finishers, with a mission for the next three races in the series. Come back stronger and smile!
The next Trailscape race is in Cuxton, Kent on the 5th December. You can register here.
DISCLAIMER: As an ambassador for the Trailscape race series, my race entry is paid for by the race organisers.