Monday, 10 November 2008

8th Steppingly Step – Wet and boggy – great!!!

Another LDWA event, but found this a lot harder that the 55 miler back in September, Mainly because the route was very hilly and due to the traverses across local fields, which were boggy and very sticky after the recent rain we have had. This meant that footwear soon became clogged up and heavy. Thankfully I had learnt from the last LWDA event and bought a pair of Sealskin socks, which saved my feet from being completely ruined and kept all the water out (a well worth buy at £20).

The event (not a race as such, as it is officially a walker’s event) was well supported with about 40 runners and we all took off from a local village hall along a few roads until we hit the first of many, many fields. From there we entered the Steppingly Steps, 350ft of near vertical climbing, before reaching to top, which had breathtaking views for those with any breath left (not me).

There I teamed up with two runners for Orpington, who I ran with for most of the way, exchanging banter and general chatting, to help the miles go by. Also, as this was an LDWA event, it helped to have others there to decipher the directions, which were considerably ambiguous in places and which would have led me to doing more mileage and back-tracking than was planned.

The scenery was extremely nice, going from valleys to the top of Ampthill park , with more wonderful views, however to get to these points meant lots of climbing and according to my Garmin, there was over 3600ft of climbing on the whole route.

Once past this stage the weather started to deteriorate, winds started picking up and the skies darkened, but we headed back into the valleys and the bogs and churned up footpaths of the woods. Most of it looked like a herd of wildebeest had been there first, so picking a route through wasn’t easy. Thankfully because of the socks I could take the wet way through, although nearly lost a shoe a couple of times.

Once out of the wood we only had about 6 miles left, but the woods had stretched my hamstrings to their maximum and they were extremely sore, so I cut the pace back and lost contact with the other two. After the final checkpoint at 22 miles my energy picked up a little and I gently trotted the rest of the way home, to finish in 4:24. Six minutes inside what I had planned for, and finishing in freezing cold conditions I was happy to get some warm food inside me.

In reflection, the only down side on the day was breakfast, as I had tried one of the breakfast I was planning to take to the MDS. This tasted like and looked like wallpaper paste (alright, I haven’t tried to eat wallpaper paste, but you get the idea), so I now have to source something else, but rather now than 3 days into the desert.

Next up is the Gatliff Marathon, which at 50km defies the Trades description law, but this is one I will probably do with a 5kg backpack and maybe hiking poles, to get used to them in my hands. But that’s not until 30th November so a bit of time for recovery this week and back to the mill.

Safe running all

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