This weekend I had the opportunity to run as a Course Checker for a new group called Trailscape whom I know little about but I had volunteered my services via Facebook request on the Trail Running Group.
I arrived in Ashurst, Kent which lies on its border with Sussex at 7.00am and stepped into a hive of activity announcing my arrival to the Race Director and from that moment I was whipped into shape, briefed, introduced to a driver and another Course Checker, Martin, who was doing the 10km route.
Looking at the weather I decided that it was two shirts, waterproof smock, leggings, my trusty Adidas Kanadias and Injinji socks. I was ejected from the car along with Martin and were pointed to a disused railway track to find our way. I failed at the start when it wasn't explained to me that my section (the latter 13.1 miles) actually didn't cross over the track but UNDER so ran over the top of it for about 2km but was soon pointed to the correct place by the local dog walkers.
The course was a tough one taking me over the tops of hills with the wind howling through the trees such that I could lean into it, rain pelting my face like needles and mud that squelched over your ankles in places. I was pleased to be the trailblazer as the mud was undisturbed but know if you are the fiftieth pair of feet on the trail it can be hard going. People were few and far between but those that did cross my path were friendly.
I knew I was in what we Brits quaintly call "Pooh Country" in recognition of A.A. Milne's childrens' book about the adventures of a toy bear called Winnie the Pooh. To my joy I saw a finger post stating "Pooh's Bridge" and pointing me down the path I was to take and there in front of me was the famous bridge. I stopped and grabbed a few twigs and dropped them on one side to jump across to the other side to see my stick pass under, a game not really made for one but I was happy I won both of my games.
Not much more I can say other than it was great to be out on the trails by myself again and to stand at tops of hills and take stock. As I came to the end of my section I saw the runners who were racing a 10km stretch (Organised by the same people) and to join them for the run to the finish line. I hadn't realised how dehydrated I was until I got to a check point and drank like a fish.
Very pleased with my 18 miles on a very tough and in poor conditions, I have a feeling my fitness will return quite quickly as long as I keep the long runs up.
Tigger: [eagerly] Uh, you would?
Eeyore: It's very easy. You just have to let your stick drop in a twitchy sort of way.
Tigger: Oh yeah, I forgot to twitch. That was my problem.
[twitches, then bounces]
[we hear a crash]
Eeyore: Bounced again.