WHAT: Trail marathon
WHERE: Cuxton, Kent
WHEN: 5th December 2015
As I headed against the traffic for my second lap, like a salmon in the shadow of a bear claw, I felt defeated.
My first official marathon had started well. Running the first lap with a friend had made the tough hills, 30mph winds and sticky, slidey mud fun. But running in towards the half-way check point, where I’d drop off my company, I realised that doing another lap on my own with quickly tiring legs would be a little more challenging.
Most of the other marathoners had already headed out for the second lap, I’d passed a lot of them on the out and back. I was far behind and my head had begun to drop. Now I could see the 10k and half-marathon about-to-be finishers headed towards me, I had to use every bone in my body to not turn round and join them.
“You’ve got this, you look so strong!”
Really?! I looked around to check there hadn’t been a case of mistaken identity. There was no one else to be seen silly enough to do the full marathon. Maybe I was doing better than I thought… Whether it was true or not, another compliment on my strength and a power-up from an enthusiastic high-five and I was no longer cursing the race directors for the double-lapped route. I was feeling far more positive, if a little teary from all the kind support I’d received.
Ever the completer, rather than a competer, I spent the next 14-ish miles (Trailscape races are measured in ‘trail miles’, so the marathon was a tad longer than the normal 26.2) admiring the views, snacking on the perfect mix of jelly babies and mini pretzels, and chatting to the marshals for longer than I should.
By the time I was well on my way back to race HQ, I was almost reluctant to finish. Flitting between dancing and weeping my way along the remainder of the course, I was proud to be finishing my first official marathon but a little sad the adventure was over. After all, I hadn’t exactly made it easy on myself. I’d chosen a fairly brutal event for my debut, there was a really real chance of not finishing.
I didn’t mind, it was wishful indulgence. I’d already had my fair share of support, right when I really needed it and I’m so grateful.
There are two more races in the Trailscape race series, you can sign up for them here.