It was a three hour drive away so I opted for just doing the Saturday. It was tough dragging myself out of bed to leave at 0500 once, never mind twice. I got to the pub to register and back down to the start which was about half a mile away. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew, but Beth and Kate were there as well as a few other faces I recognised which was really cool.
There was a bit of faffing about at the start. The idea was we run half a mile or so to the finish, then run seven loops around the park, but the finish wasn’t set up in time to drop our bags there beforehand. Instead, the relay runners that were doing the event in teams took our bags and dropped them off there for us.
A little later than planned, we were off, initially following the race director on his bike. The race notes and briefing had all said that the course was marked, which it was, although not especially well. The first loop was mayhem, I was running at the front with two other guys and a relay runner and we had to stop a few times, and were regularly running into people coming back towards us or from another path. We sort of took it in turns to lead/get lost, and then double back to get back on track which was a bit frustrating. We ended up coming into the finish area the wrong way after the first lap, but the second lap was better (once they’d added some more markings), and by the third we were pretty sure we knew where we were going.
After lap three I needed a gel so I dropped into the finish area to look for my bag. As it’d been taken there by someone else I had no idea where it was, and it took a good few minutes of rummaging around to find it. Once I’d got myself sorted and back out on the course the other guys were long gone and I was running on my own from then on.
I lapped a few people on the next few laps which was nice in terms of a bit of company and being reassured I was on the right track, but on lap five I missed a turning and found myself on another part of the caravan park. The thing with caravan parks is they all look the same, and I had no idea how long I’d been running down the wrong path, or where I should have been. I had no choice but to run back the way I’d come and find where I’d gone wrong. A mile or so on I spotted some tape, and got back on track, feeling a bit stupid, but not too annoyed.
I started to feel pretty wiped out during lap 6, but it felt really good to be starting lap 7, and I somehow managed to keep dragging myself around to the finish. I hit 26.2 miles in 3:14 which surprised me, although between a few wrong turns and the course being long, I actually ended up running 28.4 miles in 3:28, and coming third which I was really happy with.
Overall it was a good day, the weather was great, and I love the ingenuity of using the out of season holiday park for a road run. The course marking was a bit of a pain though, and not for a lack of signage either. One piece of tape before a turn and another after is all it really needed, but there was tape in random places, and in a lot of cases just before a turn that you didn’t have to take. It was also pretty randomly placed, some high, some low, some on the left or right but not related to whether you were about to have to turn that way. Also, for an Autumn/Winter race, red and white barrier tape would be much easier to spot than black and yellow. But in the end it was ok, and I think I’d do one of their races again, even if it’s right on the edge of how far I can comfortably drive home after a race!