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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

High Weald Challenge - The 'Smugglers Marathon' and a PODIUM!!!

The Weald is a big place and I haven't explored it all yet.....Today was Goudhurst southwards and territory for me and a new route for the LDWA High Weald Challenge otherwise known as the smugglers marathon (after the legendary Hawkhurst gang)

We have just been in a sustained 3 weeks of 30 degree heat. Saturday was 33 and Sunday was 31. I started off early, as the RD said that runners starting the 10am start could go early. I thought I'd loosen up and amble into CP1, of which I did. I ran past Peter Johnson and had a quick chat. He was running with none other than running legend Ken Fancett. Fit as a fiddle 60 year old.

I got to CP1, and the nuggets that were running it stopped me and another couple of runner s for 5 mins "until the CP officially opened". Silly administration really. The RD had emailed to state runner could go early and hadn't communicated it forthwith.

Anyway, through the gorgeous countryside around Cranbrook through to Benenden, the hot weather took its toll. I was just about hydrated between CPs, but the paths were unrunnable 8 foor high with brambles at ankle level

After a slight detour, I went past the last of the early runners. I was on my own.....the next 15 miles were totally alone. Something liberating about that but also self preservation as the thermometer crept up above 30.

So how would you get through this? Its over 10ft high!

Instructions were sometimes hard to decipher....sometimes impossible

See what I mean?!

So after a gruelling 5 hrs 45 mins I crossed the line to great pride of seeing my wife, Audrey and Greta (that totally surprised me) and some very sweaty hugs before heading home.......

Amazing run. Hot hot hot.

Marathon#93 done

Footnote...... It wasn't until about 5 days later that the results were out and I was sort of shocked but I also knew that it was a very tough course through tens of miles of overgrown trail. Results stated that there were 67 finishers. I finished top of the shop - 1st place for me!! 18 minutes ahead of the second place and 1st lady Annabel Stearns. Some very very good marathoners who are genuinely quicker than me took over 7 hours......My second ever 1st place. Unexpected but you have to be in it to win it!

High Weald 50k

Its been a while since I updated my blog. 2 amazing children, a 60 hour a week job and just having moved house have taken up a lot of my time from running and I am probably now averaging 20 miles a week less that I did about a year ago. The good thing is that there are no junk miles. There is a lot of trail here, plus a lot of hills, so always a decent workout.

Anyway, last month I was fortunate to have Paul Thompson's entry to the HW50k. Charity money duly donated to his chosen, I took on his race number, which was #1 and then became #117.

Starting only 40 mins away from home was a delight not to have a 2 hour journey each way out of London...something that I love. There are loads of marathon routes round here. I bumped into Robert Cameron Wood and Dave Barker at the start. A quick catch up, a short walk to the start and we were off

David had recovered well from an injury earlier in the year. I hadn't seen him since my inaugural run at Tunbridge Wells Harriers but he was on form and went on to his 3rd top 10 finish. I ran with him for about 3k, then settled back to 'bed in' to the race. A hot day but fresh early on, I was bimbling along at a nice pace and at 10k in, not far from CP1, I was in longish grass and felt the slow motion pain of my foot disappearing into a rabbit hole. I got straight up and started running but quickly realised something was wrong.  It was a bit too late to turn around and go home. Not only that, I was mildly distracted by some inquisitive cows that wanted to get in my running line. As you well know, me and the bovine are not best friends. Why do they always go for me?

So, the next 41km was more of a hobble with a wince and a big shooting pain up the tendon across the top of my ankle and up my shin. Downhills were particularly unpleasant, so I had to walk the downhills....which was odd as everyone bundled past and I caught them up on the uphills.

I got to about 5k before the last CP. I could see others starting to tire. I was in limp home mode and the thought WTF and went for it. In the last 12k realised I was overtaking lots of people so started counting. From there on in I overtook 35 runners. All amazing folk. I had the energy but not the ankle. Crossing the line another runner about 50m ahead gave me a big hug. "I wasn't going to let you overtake me' he said. "Well done" said I. It was a disappointing time for me at 5.43 for a 50k, 1 hour and 33 mins slower than my pb, but with obvious concerns over the ankle. A lovely mug and a handshake from Stu Mills (legend) as well as a medal and a short drive home for a cider.