Or you can just get straight into it and have no time to worry about the things you can’t control, debate about what you’re wearing, change your top 3 times, deliberate about whether you should take a jacket as it might rain, re-tie your shoelaces 3 times and check your watch has a satellite signal! I really wouldn’t recommend arriving at the start line 7 minutes after the race has started but it really does concentrate the mind and you end up not worrying about the small stuff which ultimately has no impact on your run at all!
But back to the beginning! Myself and Victoria had decided to enter the Dark Valley Half Marathon, a White Star event, for a number of reasons; it would be good fun, we could take it easy and just enjoy the fabulous WSR atmosphere, I could hopefully get over my fear of the pitch black and of course there is the bling as the medal is awesome!
The plan was to leave Chippenham at 3.15pm, let’s just say one of us was organised and the other less so! We eventually left at 3.45pm, we couldn’t understand the car Satnav so we used one on a phone. Estimated time of arrival was initially 5:18pm which would give us 12 minutes to change shoes, etc. not ideal but we could make it work. Victoria drove like a demon and our ETA became 5:12pm, we’d now have time to spare! Finally Satnav declared we were 3 minutes away, we were to take the next left-hand turn but this turned out to be non-existent; there was just pitch black woodland! We knew we were going to a woods but we were not anticipating driving off-road to get there! After a couple of U-turns we came to the conclusion that no road existed however much Satnav insisted we should turn left so it was time to try a different phone and Google maps which then took us on a circular route around the woodland and finally to the entrance of the Moors Valley Country Park; the time was 5:28pm! It seemed like the never-ending driveway but eventually a car park, a space to abandon the car, a rapid change of footwear, torches located, jackets grabbed and we ran to find the start; initially in completely the wrong direction of course! It was very quiet when we arrived, the clock indicated we’d missed the race start by 7 minutes and there stood a very bemused Race Director, Andy, as we garbled our tale of woe and then asked could we still run! You’ve got to love WSR events, yes we could run, a quick note of our running numbers to adjust our times, radio through to the marshals that there were a couple of idiots bringing up the rear and we were off!
So it wasn’t exactly the ‘take it easy’ race I’d anticipated as we charged through the night trying to catch the back runners! The weather was not wet and windy as forecast so within a mile I was melting with my jacket on, so we had to stop briefly so I could take that off before I expired! I use the term ‘charged’ loosely as running in the dark even with head torches slows you down plus with 2 marathons in my legs it certainly wasn’t as fast and furious as it felt but at 2.5 miles we caught the backmarkers; we were no longer last!
At about 3.5 miles we’d caught a few more runners, who were a bit bemused by these two cheery runners suddenly charging past, and reached the Lovestation; we could stop for refreshments and much needed Cola bottles and other delicacies!
After the Lovestation we knew we could relax now and I very much needed a comfort break so I went off right of the pathway into the trees and Victoria went left; we were to reconvene back on the pathway. Victoria appeared just after me, laughing, so I guessed there was a story to tell and with permission I can retell it! So as I said one of us was less organised and I am not one to cast aspersions but it transpired that Victoria had not had the opportunity to put on hers sports bra in the rush and was still wearing a lacy number which is all well and good except for when you’re charging along in a half marathon trying to catch up with everyone! So when we’d left the car she’d stuffed her sports bra down her trousers hoping she’d have the opportunity to change during the race which had come about after the Lovestation, except the amazing WSR marshals had noticed us disappear just after we left, were concerned we were okay so came to check on us just as Victoria was changing! I can only say ‘crying with laughter’!
I can’t say much about the scenery as it was dark (!) but the atmosphere, marshals, Lovestation, route (2 laps but this worked well, especially if you’re late) and medal were pure WSR; fantastic! Myself and Victoria had a great time, when we could relax, and absolutely loved the race and I was only really scared once!
Thank you Andy for letting us numpties run and we’ll be back, hopefully on time!!
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