The plan was to start out with my good Tanners buddy Mark Thronberry. He had brought along a few friends including Paul T who I had run with on the first 7 miles of the Winter Midnight Ultra......thanks Paul as if it wasn't for you I would have gone off course and potentially not won the race!! I also bumped into the sexy young Hampshire scamp, Kelvin Gower and had a catch up. This type of race is the business and my kind of territory. Wet, muddy, hard to nav and cold. We ran together for about 15 mins then I realised that I was on form for the day so in the first of 6 hours of constant rain and sleet, waded through puddles and hit the uphills like a wet antelope. After a while I caught up with 100 mile winner and legend Jenny Cox and her entourage and we on and off chatted for a bit. We meet up for our once a year date with mud and beastly hills and have a chat.....then off she went.
CP 1 came and went and off towards CP2, which included the hilliest section of the run. I began a conversation with Martyn Turner who I had been overtaken by at SPW on the last mile and had been a marshall at the ill-fated Thames Gateway 60 in 2013. We ran and chatted for all but the last 3 miles of the race. There was a good bit of nav between us and we didn't see another runner until CP2, where we caught and overtook a bunch of good quality runners. Leading through the forests of the Surrey Hills and through plenty of mud, Martyn and I had a good old chat. We went at a steady but fast clip and caught up again with Jenny. As a group of about 7 we went through mud and snow, slipping all over the place to now about 4 hours in the rain and sleet. My waterproof was not waterproof anymore, everything was soaked and now heavy.
CP3 came and that was the signal to hit again hard. Martyn and I ran and left the group, taking a couple with us who eventually caught and then I ran with Jenny's mate and Martyn ran behind. I knew the last 3 miles like the back of my hand. Cold wet legs and 7.30s down the hill for the cameo was manageable. 6.19 was the slowest I have ever done the race, but 19th place and it felt like the fastest? There were some seriously good runners in the top few and also some seriously good runners in the next hour behind me. I really enjoyed this race....more than any other tanners and probably in my top 10 of all time races.
Marathon #79 done