Bloomin’ hard is the answer! So the premise of the race was that you could run as many or as few 4.5 mile laps within an 8 hour period as you liked. In theory it sounds easy but in reality a lot tougher than I imagined! If you’re sensible and decide just to run a few laps then admittedly not as tough but hey why just run a few when you can make the marathon distance your goal! You might think boredom was the problem, well not at all as the route never got monotonous; there was too much going on to think about and look at! By that I mean the route was so technical and varied there was no opportunity to day dream as I often do! Lumpy bumpy fields, stone covered trails, woodland teeming with tree roots, feet sinking peat pathways, rock hard harvested hay fields, trails of cleared and flattened ferns, avenues of Rhododendrons, grasslands covered in heather, pathways through an equestrian centre, the moonscape like chalk quarry and most weirdly the trampoline field (no other way to describe it!); it felt very weird as you bounced across the field that was near enough impossible to run! Also to relieve any monotony there was as always the amazing camaraderie of all the White Star Runners and Marshalls, which always makes any of their events special. Finally of course there was the Lovestation just before the 4 mile marker on each lap, now there’s a goal when there is beer and Schnapps on offer!
So this was a new event this year for White Star Running, the Moreton Summer Sessions, a weekend of running around the Dorset countryside with camping and food if required. Saturday was the Solo Frolic (the 8 hour laps) and Sunday there were 5 mile and 10 mile races. I opted for the camping, food and Frolic but decided not to double up on races; see I can be sensible!
For those of you who are of an age and remember the television drama Tenko well this was filmed in Moreton and we were running through where it was filmed. None of the sets are obviously there now as it was broadcast between 1981 and 1984, however I could picture some of it as we ran through the ferns and Rhododendrons. I avidly watched the TV series as my Great Aunt & Uncle had been in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp so remember it well. I did get talking to the landowner after the race and he does recall when Tenko was being filmed you couldn’t buy a Chinese Takeaway within a 30 mile radius; all employees were extras in Tenko! It was obviously the BBC’s assumption that all Orientals look the same! Anyway apparently Tenko is still being rerun on the True Entertainment channel if you want to have a look!
I digress as usual! So I arrived Friday afternoon in the rain in Moreton, my friend Helen was arriving around 8pm, flying in from Inverness, so I had volunteered to provide Helen’s tent and amenities for her as hand luggage was not going to stretch that far! Eventually the rain stopped and I pitched our tents in what transpired 2 hours later to be the wrong field! With the help of some fabulous WSR runners the tents were hauled over the barbed wire fence and re-pegged; I only hit my hand with the mallet once!
After a good night’s sleep, porridge pot breakfast and coffee we walked the 30 seconds from our tent to the race start!
The race briefing was; the course is technical, it’s sort of flat’ish (by WSR standards), follow the arrows, don’t get lost, Lovestation just before 4 miles, the route is 4.5 miles’ish, run over the timing mat after each lap, stop when you want! Pretty straightforward really! There was a prize for the first man and woman to sprint to the top of the field; I thought I would give someone else a chance this year! So with a little countdown we were off and running, obviously not sprinting, across the lumpy field and as we went on discovered for ourselves that when they said it was technical they really were not exaggerating! Here’s some of the technical bits!
Now I know I am not the fastest by any means but the first lap took an hour and that was with only a brief stop at the Lovestation, I knew then if I was going to run 6 laps it was going to be a long day at the office! The first lap I ran with Helen and then for the next 3 laps I wasn’t often alone but along the way ran and chatted with so many different runners. As each lap progressed the rain got heavier, the walking breaks increased as did the time I stayed at the Lovestation, well there was Schnapps and beer on offer (amongst all the other cakes, savouries, fruit, sweets, water, coke and squash……it’s not just alcohol!).
I knew if I was going to stop before 6 laps I’d have to stop at 3 because once you reach 4 laps there’s only 2 to go and then you can’t possibly stop at 5 unless you physically can’t move; runners logic! Not far into lap 5 I met up with Shaz and Paul and what wonderful company they were, the miles certainly passed quickly as we chatted and exchanged tales. To be honest we walked quite a bit of lap 5 but we just called it a recovery lap, this was so we could come out strong in lap 6; finish on a high so to speak!
Finally the 3 of us were onto lap 6 and we each pushed each other on with running targets; run to the gate then walk, we’ll start running at the squirrel jump, we'll run to the trampoline field, that kind of thing! We even only briefly stopped at the Lovestation on our last lap as we were all on a mission, but couldn’t by-pass it completely as a boost of Schnapps is essential! Then finally the finish line was ahead and as we sang a variety of songs that we could barely remember the words to we crossed the timing mat for the last time, we were not even vaguely tempted to run a 7th lap! Thank you Shaz and Paul for your fabulous company!
So the final score was 27.31 miles in just over 7hrs 25mins so a PW but I did weirdly enjoy myself! Sometimes it’s just about the taking part, having fun and enjoying the odd Schnapps even if I was slightly broken at the end and was told by Andy of WSR that I looked terrible (drowned rat does spring to mind)!
Marathon #52 done, I’m not done yet!
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