7:30: After a rush check-out of the Travelodge with mum and sister Sam and eventually getting the sat nav to locate a GPS signal, we make it to the meeting point that is just at the side of the road near a caravan park in Wheatley, Oxfordshire.
It didn't help that my sister needed to know a time I would be at the last check point and finish to meet me. I couldn't think straight or guess as I am not sure of the conditions of the route or my navigation skills....So I just said that I would text once at CP3 in case they wanted to meet me at CP4.
|Looking a bit nervous at the start...|
I'm glad to hear we are in agreement to stick together at least until we reach the Oxfordshire / Ridgeway tracks as the directions seem rather tricky up to CP1. I decide there and then that this will be an enjoyable scenic day out on the trails and will be good training practice at navigating! So far I'm not too good…
The three of us seem relaxed running together at a steady pace of approx 8:40min/mile, aware the start has slowed us considerably. After about 7.5 miles on a tarmac road, the Ridgeway route bears to the right, where it is rather uneven stone underfoot. Taking it easy as we pass morning dog walkers, a smile and ‘good morning’ goes down a treat here!
As it is approaching mid morning the sun is shining and gives some warmth on my face from the cold temperature. We carry on over a bridge and past The Boat House Pub. We continue onto a cobbled road and then meet the water edge that is the Thames Path. This track continues parallel through green fields, houses, apartments and kissing gates.
He picks up a big bottle of water that is just in the grass and carries it along. I laugh to myself that he thinks I maybe thirsty. Such a clever dog!
I stop to take a picture to remember the moment.
A few minutes up the track I see his owner on the wooden decking by the water and he goes to greet her.
I see Kenneth running into the CP as I'm throwing on my bag ready to go. I've covered 24.86 miles in 4 hours 29 minutes. I text my mum and sister to let them know I am just leaving the CP.
After 1.6 miles the uphill track heads down under a road and then back up to open space fields. From where I am the track ahead just looks never ending with a steady ascent all the way.
Eventually as I approach what seems to be a small car park in the fields I can spot the photographers again on either side of the track in their big red jackets hiding behind their camera lenses. I pull my buff down to my neck once closer and give them a thumbs up and a winning smile. They ask how I'm feeling and say keep it up.
After another mile I pass a large monument on the Ridgeway, which is in commemoration of the Battles of Inkerman and Arms. I stop to take a picture. The scattered clouds from behind cover the sun as it shines down making it look shadowed.
After a few miles of track that seems to never end, past rows upon rows of trees and hedges, the mud gets very deep in parts, and I find my shoes have clumped so much that I lose grip and slip and slide. The puddles are mini ponds of muddy water and as my feet never dried out from the first plunge I really don't fancy getting my socks wet anymore! I jump and tip toe around as best I can, using the grass verge to get some more tread but still slipping and at one point I slide backwards and have to grab a branch to steady myself.
I slow to a trot, then a walk, then feel like just giving up altogether! All these questions fill my head like "will I ever be able to finish?"," Will I get lost again?"," Will I have to run in complete darkness out here?"," Can I do this?". I just want to rest....
|Time for reflection...|
I notice my sister has text that they were out of signal and got my last message late so will have to drive direct to the finish. I also see that I have been tagged on Facebook by my sister at The Burbury Inn, which is the finish.
Best get a move on then!....
|Winning smile after running 54.52 miles in 9:38:26|
Lots of pictures are taken and then I receive a big goody box Steve has made up for me full of energy bars and gels. We bid farewell to the Team as they wait for Kenneth to come in. I pass on the offer of pie in the Inn as its now peak traffic and we have a long journey back home.
|Me and my proud sis!|