Marathon #104 was a long time coming. August to November was a bit of non-starter for the longer races. It had been so wet....and as I write rather belatedly, it continues to rain. It has been as wet as I can remember. The water table is so high that every time it rains heavily, it floods.
I had been winter training with Andy from the Running Club and also dad of one of Audrey's good friends in year 1 at school. He is younger, faster, lighter and fitter than me....which provides me with a challenge to keep up. Nevertheless, I seemed to have coerced him into running a self-nav trail ultra. What an inaugural ultra...the one and only Gatliff.
After a good start it was mud central. Passchendale or The Somme were regularly mentioned. It was only dry underfoot on the well-drained trails of the Ashdown. 33.9 miles of wet and muddy trail were pounded, slid and slopped through.
We motored through the course, only being overtaken by a couple of runners and coming through just inside the top ten, well 10th actually. It's hard to work out where you are in the field with a staggered start. I'd done most of the nav until Andy cracked on in the last 7/8 miles. I then slipped and fell flat on my face in the mud with a mile to go! The joys and the perils of Gatliff. Directions were as ever, awful, navigation was OK but he made it through his first ultra and then a few pints in the Red Lion in front of the fire in the village near home. I think that is my 6th Gatliff.