I forgot my trail shoes. Anyway you can wear road shoes for most trails? They are usually just hard packed paths? WRONG! Brightlingsea six hour challenge is advertising as an undulating (lie) trail (lie) lapped course. Do as many laps as you can in six hours. Joking aside the event is brilliantly organised, laid back but well thought out and really friendly. The course was not friendly. Don’t get me wrong, I love mud, it’s kind of my thing. So I will stop pretending I wasn’t actually happy when the race director described the course. I would just have been happier if I had remembered shoes with grip. The marathon (four laps) was my target. Because of repeated injury I have tapered my training back and only run three times a week, a total of ten ish miles. I was clueless how to pace this run. I think even experienced marathoners would struggled with pacing because of the swampland in the middle of the course. I decided to run quite a bit slower than usual, that felt scientific. The course is six laps, mile one was along the sea front into a stupid headwind, mile two was mud and up hill, mile three was twisty muddy single track with branches to duck, mile four was mud, mile five was along the sea into the wind and mile six was a much appreciated tailwind to finish the loop. The first two laps felt okay, I spent some time chatting to other runners and thinking ‘maybe I could do further than the marathon’. This enthusiasm plummeted on lap three, it became clear that you can blag a half marathon on ten miles a week, but not a marathon. My under-training combined with not being able to eat, when running, because it makes me feel sick meant lap four was hilarious to watch, proper comedy. Falling into fences funny. I really wanted to get under four hours but on the last lap the mud became less amusing, because of the foot fall the course was officially a swamp. I began making really weird noises, like properly weird. I was determined not to walk mainly because I was worried that if I stopped it would be for good. My running style at this point looked like a sweaty bald ostrich running (ish) over hot coals. About a mile from the finish I realised the laps were coming up long and I had a chance of ducking under four hours. My brain told me I had a sprint finish left, nope. I really wish I had a video of that last half mile, it felt and must have looked ridiculous. Anyway I did it! Yay me, my first marathon. I nearly got under four hours (4:01). I swore I would never do a marathon again. My Google history might suggest otherwise. 

Jason Corner

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