6th May 2012
Moyles Court School, New Forest
Thanks to XNRG providing ear plugs, I had a pretty good nights sleep in the school sports hall. Lights were on and breakfast served at 6am, walkers left at 7am, runners at 8am and elite at 9am. Kris and I had just made it into the elite start due to our finishing time the day before but it wasn’t hard to convince Neil to let us start at 8am with the other runners. My left calf had been playing up all week and felt painful to put weight on, giving me a pretty obvious limp! Other than that I felt just about ok – however I knew it was going to be a tough day. Unfortunately we were running a bit late in the morning and as we rushed off to the start I realised I had forgotten to bring the map and most of my food supplies for the day. Kris’s garmin also kicked it at about mile 3 so we were left with just my route notes.
Whilst much of Day 1 had been through open moorland with some stretches of disused train track later in the day, Day 2 was predominantly on gravel cycle paths. This meant less mud and hopefully less chance of getting lost. I felt ok at the first checkpoint at about mile 10 and my calf seemed to have loosened off a fair bit. My previous races this year have nearly all been on quite hilly terrain which means plenty of walking breaks up hill – the Pony Express offered much less opportunity to walk and I was starting to realise how hard it is to constantly run (obvious I realise!)
We pushed on to the second check point, about another 5 miles on, and everyone seemed to be in good spirits here. For much of the last few miles a group of 5 of us had formed. I can’t remember anyone’s names (blue OMM jacket man is in a lot of the photos!) but we kept overtaking each other whilst usually staying in sight. As we approached Mill Lawn in Burley, I looked behind to see the elite winner from Day 1 approaching us fast. He went on to win the race and did Day 2 in an amazing time. I started to falter at this point and did a bit of a run/ walk for a mile or so. The next few miles to the 3rd checkpoint seemed to take forever and for a while the group spread out so we were on our own. After checkpoint 3 we seemed to have bunched up again and also had the winning lady Kate and 3rd man Pete pass us. All was going well until we realised we were lost – a group of Duke of Edinburgh kids had (I think) sat on of the sprayed arrows on the track and pointed us in the wrong direction! As a group we worked out a way to loop around the front of Rhinefield House Hotel and join back up with the track but it was so frustrating to be lost again.
The last 6 miles or so the group stayed together, opening gates for each other with someone always running slightly ahead and pushing the rest on. Im not sure if anyone was doing it consciously but it certainly helped me. Running into Brockenhurst felt…well relieving…I was so tired, my legs were burning and I didn’t think I could run much further. When I saw the sports hall I pushed out that last 100 meters with a big smile on my face! We ended up coming in at 5hr32 which was a pleasant surprise – 5th women and 21st overall 🙂
I found this race tough but I’m stoked I have finished my first stage race and more importantly am now 197 miles into my 600 mile challenge!