I was playing around with my stats last night after running the Sevenoaks Circular and realised that I had only run 9 times in the previous 30 days but each run averaged 23.5 miles, show off figures but what made it more disturbing was they included a 100 and a 32 mile run!
So it was because of this that I awoke on Sunday morning at 5.45 am after losing an hours sleep due to the change to BST with slightly achy legs from my 10 mile run North Downs run last Friday to decide whether doing the event was such a good idea. No going back now, George will be on his way to collect me at 6.30 am
Like a well oiled clock, George arrived at my house at 6.30 on the dot and we rushed off to the event arriving at a scary 7.00am on the dot. A short walk to the rugby club, paid our entry fees and got about the business of catching up with old friends whilst donning our kit....I left my shoes to last as they still smelled horrific and were tightly wrapped in polythene.
The run starts
We were requested to make a move to the start line some 200 metres down the road in the entrance way of Knowle Park and the park keeper opened the gates at 8.00am. Standing chatting still we noticed that the there was a movement forwards to then realise it had started....I love these events, they are not a race, they are a personal challenge so there is no pressure
It was quite cool in the valleys of the park which was bathed in fog and it was a wonderous moment to see a herd of 12 Roe deer thunder off and away from us up high on the hill. As you will be aware from previous reports, LDWA events are self-guiding so we were armed with 3 sheets of paper telling us directions in a unique shorthand so times are much slowere than normal due to the stopping and starting, getting lost or just stopping to view the scenery.
We had scanned the directions and we were pleased to see that the route was completely different this year but gobsmacked to see that we were going to run about 15 miles of the route with no need to read the instructions as it took in Chevening and 6 miles of the North Downs Way and then join the Vanguard Way to Limpsfield. All training runs and part of the Lndon to Brighton route. We even ran past the place where I got my shoes covered in sileage on Friday, however this time George and I ran along the road to the side of it ducking in a small gate....local knowledge paid off ;-)
We were not worried about time, we know we plod along at an average pace of about 5 mph, nothing brutal as these events are Tough (note the capital T) the hills steep, the terrain rough and with many stiles and gates to navigate and like metronomes we plodded through 20 miles in 4 hours thinking that we would be home soon but then the event really showed its true colours we were being slowly pushed towards Toys Hill and Ide Hill which are reknowned for their steepness and very erratic foothills, this slowed us down tremendously , my legs were still a little achy and then we made a costly mistake taking a wrong turning that took us deep into a valley which we had to climb back up when we found the instructions didn't match. Most of the time we would grumble but I don't think we really cared, it was just fun being out there. I say that for we then had a 240 foot (80 metres) ascent in 0.4 miles (640 metres)...that was tough and every sinew in my legs screamed but there was a checkpoint at the top and I was getting hungry.
After a refuel of biscuits and orange cordial we only had 5 miles (8km) to go but there was yet another deep descent and even higher ascent to go and then a some rugged terrain with a sharp drop to the finish. Considering the amount of training George and I do we really pleased with how we did this last few miles at a very strong and steady pace, the fact that there had been no taper for the event.
So reporting in I dived head first to the food queue, grabbed a fresh plate of beans on toast with a cup of coffee to sit down to have a catch up and laugh with the other runners, well deserve after 32.3 miles of cross country running