Then we were off, for a slightly chaotic first few miles. After a few hundred metres of trying to get past walkers who had started at the front (geniuses!), we were onto a muddy, boggy track. That in itself was a bit tough, but it was made tougher by all the people who decided that the main objective for the day was to not get their shoes dirty. I managed to get stuck in a group of total fuckwits, shrieking and stopping to tiptoe around puddles every five seconds, and a mile or two in I was in a proper foul mood.
After a while things opened up, and a couple of early hills things spread out a bit more, and all of a sudden it was a little easier. I was still a long way from feeling 100%, but I was happy enough trotting along, and the course was really well marked so there was nothing to really worry about on that score.
The only thing to really worry about was the mud. Every few miles there’d be a field to cross or a section of boggy track, and things got really tricky in terms of staying upright. A couple of the field crossings were awful, really claggy mud just sticking to my shoes and building up until it was nearly impossible to keep moving. More than a few times I had to stop at a fence or gate and scrape the mud off my shoes just to stop myself from toppling over on the platform of mud I’d accumulated.
But to offset the mud, was the cake. I’d heard really good things about the checkpoints, mostly from run-streak legend Mike Wells who’d been tweeting photos from last year’s event all week in anticipation. In a word, they were epic. I’ve done a few well stocked races, but this one topped the lot. I came out of every aid station with my mouth and both hands full of goodies, and I reckon I at least broke even against my £19 entry fee with all the food I ate.
I had a bit of a wobble between miles 14-17, possible a mid-checkpoint sugar crash, but then fell into pace with a couple of guys and we chatted along for a few miles. Quickly there were just two of us, me and a guy called Chris. We just carried on chatting and plodding along which was cool, and when he started to struggle a bit I dropped the pace a bit and stuck with him. We saw it out together from there, stopping a few times for Chris to stretch out some cramp, and before we knew it we were on the last stretch of muddy track and heading back into the school where we’d started.
There was even more food there, soup, pudding, custard, the works, so I scoffed a load more food and headed off for the three hour drive back. People were saying the muddy conditions were the worst they’d been in years and I can believe that – in drier conditions it would have been a pretty pleasant trot in the countryside, as it was, it was a tough old day.
This was the 25th year of the race, and you could tell they’d been doing it for while. Everything was really well organised, really well supported, and so many of the people there had done it loads of times before. The only negative thing about the whole race is that I didn’t find out until afterwards that Belvoir is pronounced “Beaver”. I could have been tweeting #nicebelvoir for weeks.