I registered, chatted with a few other runners, and then in the usual understated LDWA style, we were off. I took a wrong turn almost immediately which was funny, and then fell into pace with a lady Tracy who’d done the race (albeit a slightly different route) the year before.
We chatted away, keeping a decent pace for a few miles, checking the route description every now and again, until we came across a sign that said “18 mile route”. This was a worry, as we knew the 26 mile and 18 mile routes split and rejoined a few times along the way. Just as we were working out what had gone wrong we caught up some 18 milers who said we’d gone the wrong way. They said we could just carry on and meet the 26 mile route in about half a mile, but that would lop about 4 miles off.
Honesty prevailed, and we doubled back, running the two miles back to where we should have turned left, and rejoicing the 26 milers at the back of the field. We worked our way through a few groups of walkers and runners, and made it to the first checkpoint without too much drama.
Apart from the time it cost us adding four miles on, I could tell we were losing a lot of time in smaller chunks as we were so nervous of making another wrong turn. For the next few miles we were stopping quite a bit to double check where we were which although it was a nice day and we were having a good time, was slowly adding to the time we were out there.
After the second checkpoint there seemed to be more people around and It was easier to navigate, apart from a tricky residential stretch through Edgbaston. The canal sections were longer on the second half and eventually we came to the highlight of the race – checkpoint 3 and the marshal’s cake competition. I cast my vote, plumping for a fruity shortbread thing, and then it was off for the final stretch.
Tracy was starting to tire a bit, and I wasn’t feeling like I had anything to kick for home with, so we just kept plodding on. We ran most of the last stretch with a lady Beth who was running really well, conserving energy for the Chesterfield Marathon the next day. Eventually she pulled away from us, and then all of a sudden we came around a bend in the canal and we were at the finish.
All my expectations of LDWA events were then met, with a sincere “well done”, a nice certificate, and a jacket potato with cheese and beans. All for the princely sum of £9.
My finishing time was 4:37, which I was initially horrified by until I remembered the extra four miles and all the cake stops. The easy pace was definitely what I needed though, I ran 20km with the club the next morning without too much drama, so I’m feeling in good shape for Ladybower next week.