What a superb day for early summer and camping but not perhaps for running a hard hilly trail marathon As i survey the scene from my chair across the temporary campsite and beyond the picturesque Village of Sydling into the heart of the beautiful Dorset countryside with a large heavy medal around my neck even the hours I spent toiling in the baking June sun was worth every minute.
Rather than sitting outside my encampment musing on the days trials, I could be in the town hall enjoying a barn dance and a late bar however the chafing on my neither parts and exhaustion means my Dad dancing is on hold – maybe next year?
For the first time in my marathon running history, I was ready for this race two days early! My kit was packed, the tent and camping essentials were in the car to allow a rapid departure on Friday!
All went seamlessly to plan however the traffic on the roads hadn’t received the memo and so a long 4 hour drive to the recently vacated cow field (aka campsite) ensued.
Giant’s Head was a far more freestyle nod camping so after driving around the field we picked the best space left.
Like a well drilled Roman Unit pitching camp after a long day, the tent and newly acquired porch extension was up. No moaning Mary for her incompetence – it does help to have the pegs and mallet for this to happen. (I packed them!)
The campsite is a friendly mix of families and running clubs, despite the noise from a few groups enjoying the social aspect in my black out tent, wrapped up in a sleeping bag with my head resting of a soft (not feather) pillow (that I remembered to pack) I was soon fast asleep!
As the 6:15 alarm call had just finished, Mary and I wondered the short distance to the village hall for a large bowl of WI porridge to set ourselves up for the race.
After last month’s roasting in Dorset I stood in my tent and basted myself from head to toe with P20 – I was not taking any chances of sunburn.
At 8:30 the race started.
The almost flat start soon disappeared, and the hills started. Should you ever see the back of the race shirt you can marvel at the relief from the race.
Giant’s Head is sold as a challenging hilly race. They did not lie! Hills are one element but the mixed terrain are another. Farmers had kindly cut a metre wide running track along the footpath through the fields, but other paths had heavy rutting from tractors (Yes even the Massey ones we saw) that could be hidden from view by long grass. Farm tracks were mixed affairs of chalk and scree.
The weather added to the challenge. The recent weather has fully hardened the ground meaning dust – not great for an asthmatic. But good if you only had road shoes.
Despite carrying 1 litre of fluids and gels to power an Olympic team the regular aid stations proved a must despite being very busy. Probably caused in part by a few runners (maybe 100) missing a sign and adding to their WSR experience – well it isn’t White Star Running if someone doesn’t get lost! Mary and I only added on half a mile! It would have been less if Mary had allowed me to climb over the barbed wire fence. Spoilsport; what could possibly have gone wrong?
Giant’s Head Marathon gets its name from the Cerne Abbas chalk giant cut into the hill side that you run passed at about 8 miles. Thankfully the viewing point is well marked and even I couldn’t miss it!
Heat or maybe last week’s Trail Marathon Wales got to me! After blasting up the huge hill at 19 miles by the Lovestation I wasn’t feeling any love for anyone or anything – especially running! I felt hot, really sick and grumpy! But I went on.
Mary had caught back up with me after I stormed away from her on the hill and asked if it was sensible to go on if I felt so bad!
In my grumpy mood I barked back – of course it is sensible I only have another 6 ish miles to go.
Just like elevation profiles for White Star Running moods in races move between great highs and massive lows. So it was with me. My Torq drink top up soon perked me up.
I was more cheerful for the last few miles even over the difficult camber downhills and the last uphill!
Crossing the line, I collected my J&J hug with medal (Do a WSR event and you will understand) as well as t-shirt and muff (not buff!) Before heading straight for the ice cream van only to find it has a fault so no large whippy cone!
But before I go to my bed, I would strongly urge any Massey Runners to give a WSR event a go, they are a real social occasion as well as being well organised races. Well worth the drive to Dorset.