I thought this day would never come… at the start of my journey it seemed like a far, unreachable achievement in the distance… well at least I knew the distance in advance:
The Larmer Tree – Marathon
The Ox – Marathon
The Wedding Cow, day 1 – Marathon
The Wedding Cow, day 2 – Marathon
The Giant’s Head – Marathon
Dorset Invader – Marathon
So here I was, over 200 km later, ready to do the last race in the Season Ticket Series: The Dorset Invader and I have to say, I was quite excited!
Amy, Simon, David and I (yes, we had a proper Fitstuff team this time) arrived at the camp site near Blandford Forum (Dorset) about 5pm, just in time to leave the boys to set the tents up and for Amy and I to do the fun race😀 Very well played😉
After the Chaos Race we all went to Blandford Forum to have dinner at Namaste Gurkha (Nepalese). And what a choice that was! Wow! We were all stuffed with lovely food and rolled back to the camp site (drove actually).
However that was just the beginning, we had some camping whiskey, courtesy of David and just coincidentally it was Auchentoshan, my favourite single malt.
The night was still young, so we went to the event village to check out the disco, have more drinks and try out some head pieces:
As much as we were enjoying ourselves, it was time to get some sleep.
Unfortunately I didn’t sleep that well and woke up at crazy o’clock feeling unbearably hot and thirsty (this may have something to do with the alcohol, I couldn’t possibly tell), so I went to the event village for a coffee. My morning went really quickly as I ended up talking to everyone who was already awake.
After a coffee I went back to the tent to have breakfast with my friends – thank you Amy!
It was already very hot and I was umming and ahhing whether to take a hydration pack or a belt with bottles. In the end I decided to go for the pack as I thought I would need a lot of drink with me.
Suddenly all the spare time was gone and the race was about to start, so I went to see XMILES to get my nutrition for the race. It was the first time I was testing a new product – Tailwind during a race. I know, I know, runners usually avoid new products during important races like the plague. Well, I didn’t. Anthony offered me a tasting and I went for berry flavour. My first thought was that I would have preferred a slightly sharper taste, however in hindsight, I was happy that it was mild and really easy to drink.
We then met Tara and took our pre-race photos. It was all very exciting as there were 4 of us running together and it was Simon’s first marathon (although he’d already completed an ultra before). We all got hugs and kisses from Amy and went to the start line.
And the start line wasn’t your usual start line, this is White Start Running, you can’t expect ‘standard’, you have to expect the Spanish Inquisition! This time it was a baby Centurion throwing a flag in the air to start the race.
The race started with a grassy downhill but this quickly turned into a dusty uphill. The path was uneven, the ground was hard and all the runners created a cloud of dust around them. I could taste the dust and I was really happy I made a decision to take a hydration pack with me.
How could this be so tough already?
We ran through prickly and sharp foliage and I was really happy I was wearing calf guards.
And then we got distracted by a full size Centurion – a great opportunity for a selfie!
After that we ran through a bean field, it was a single track path that was very bumpy, full of stones and roots. Tricky.
But then there was a water station right there, 6km done!
We crossed the road and went into a woodland, this bit was shaded and felt very nice.
To make things even better there was an awesome downhill bit that I really enjoyed.
Shortly after we got to a very open track and it was already soooo hot!
We were running and running and running and suddenly we saw Brian from BMB Photography, time to pose!
Time for another uphill, more fields and pretty views.
I really admire everyone who was dressed up for this race and refused to take their costume off. I truly have no idea how they do it. It was so, so hot. I was drinking so much and was really pleased that I had nutrition in my drink as eating was the last thing on my mind! In heat like this it’s really difficult to make yourself eat.
A brief pig interlude
And another water station, phew! Bit of a break.
The next part was uphill – with a pre-warning that there will be more. I wouldn’t expect anything less!😀
More fields, heat, dust and spiky foliage. It was very tough, my whole body was already covered in salt from all the sweat that my body was producing, desperately trying to cool itself.
But then out of nowhere we saw a beautiful Venus with refreshments! We were at the Lovestation, however this was only 12km in! Yay! We were going to get 2 Lovestations this time!
It would be rude not to have Guinness Cake and watermelon! Nom!
For some reason, I took a sponge with me (I got it from the Etape du Tour event village last year when I was waiting for Jamie to finish his race) and it was the best idea ever! It was such a relief from the heat and I knew that it was going to become my summer running staple from then on!
We left the Lovestation and carried on through more fields and pretty villages and funky natural tunnels.
Who knew that what/who was waiting for us on the other side… was going to be such a great surprise.
It was Amy! Yay! Amy was there! With Kevin the Badger Man!
I mean it wasn’t far since we left the Lovestation (we were now about 14.5 km in), but I was grateful for the additional water and suncream. Amy is always prepared for every eventuality. Even if you forgot something, she would have probably thought about it and packed spares!
It was a shame to leave them, but we had to carry on… uphill… but then at the top of the hill there was a view and everything was fine again😉
We even got a special treat – a mini history lecture from one of the locals which was lovely. Fun and educational, what more would you want from a race😉
Downhill. I was soooo glad.
It was getting really tough. Really, really, really tough. We carried on but maybe with a bit less enthusiasm as we were all struggling. We were trying to distract each other with conversation, forcing ourselves to eat, trying to remember to drink enough and stopping to stretch. Phew!
But Then there was a camera man and you know that however hard it is, you will give him your best!
We reached the ABBA party water station (19 km ish) and all I wanted was coke and watermelon. Yes, it is a strange combination but each to their own😉
The next bit was on road and I knew we were half way there and I was trying to focus on the fact that we had less to go rather than how tired I was…
Back off-road and up a hill and into the woodland to find our next surprise:
We were all struggling and trying to encourage each other but it was becoming harder, we were walking all the uphills no matter how small they were.
And then Simon mentioned that he wasn’t feeling well. We stopped and sat down for a bit but the heat was unbearable. After a while we carried on walking and got to a downhill bit. Tara was trying to encourage us to run through the easier parts. I then stopped for a picture and Simon mentioned that he was feeling sick and thought to myself that this wasn’t good.
My time in this race was totally irrelevant and I wanted to stay with Simon and so did David.
Tara carried on to the aid station and let them know that we were struggling. I called Amy in the meantime to give her an update and I was sure that it was ‘her station’ that we were going to get to next. As it turned out, we weren’t even close. However we eventually reached the 26km ish station and there was an Ambulance crew waiting for us. I tried to help as much as I could to cool Simon down with the sponge soaked in cold water and I really hoped that he was feeling better. There was no discussion with the Ambulance team though. They said that they will look after him from then on and take him back and we didn’t even attempt to discuss it. David and I stayed on our own then.
And this was the station with Sorrel and Beacon, so I said hello and then we carried on.
It was tough, so tough, but we continued.
I was glad that I had the Tailwind drink with me and didn’t have to focus on nutrition. I was getting calories and energy with every sip of water I was having, this was something that I’ve not tried before and it was very convenient!
Eventually we got to Amy and Kevin’s station and Amy was waiting there for us with electrolyte drinks. They were her own electrolyte tablets, that she later ended up distributing amongst other runners! She is an angel sent from heaven!
Maybe you don’t know this, but Amy wasn’t supposed to be there at all, in fact the station wasn’t supposed to be there at all. However, as it turned out it was the hottest day of the year (so far) and the place where the station was set up was 4C hotter than the day before. Therefore the organisers decided to set up an impromptu water station that would help us survive the heat wave. Thank you. We are all very grateful. Amy just turned up there as it was an easy point for her to get to from the start and see us running and cheer us. However she ended up staying there with Kevin for hours and helping out.
Actually, here is what Kevin said later:
We knew that the Lovestation wasn’t far as we were going back the same way, but it took us so long. Eventually we got there and I felt so hot that I poured a jug of water over my head.
8 km to go!
We left the station and started running but this very quickly turned into a walk. Neither David nor I cared at that point, we were both really tired. To be fair it was actually quite nice to walk and chat and just relax for a bit. We talked about travelling and cycling and events we wanted to do and holidays we needed, so the time went quite quickly.
And then we reached the last water station and all was very familiar from then on. The bean field, the dust, the fields. After a while we joined the previous day’s Chaos route and that made me feel much better because I knew then exactly how far we had to go.
We already had over 44 km in our legs and the last bit was quite tough but the finish line was so close!
The last stretch leading to the finish line was downhill and my legs were giving way on every hole or bump. I was really quite lucky that I didn’t cross the finish line face down!
We completed the race in just under 7 hours, very tired, very hot, but very happy! Amy, Simon and Tara were waiting there for us with hugs and kisses😀 It was so good to see Simon feeling better!
So there! I completed the Season Ticket challenge and Andy was there waiting for me with a proper 3m black belt! I have to say, I really feel like I’ve earned it. This race was a real test and I believe that I gave it all I had.
I am very grateful to my friends who helped me along the way, Andy, Kevin, every single marshal, photographers and spectators for putting together not only a race but an amazing event that I will remember for a long time.
There was a lot of food to choose from at the end and I had a veggie burger and an elderflower drink. This made me feel a lot better but I was still feeling very hot and quite ruined.
The way home was a blur (I wasn’t driving, don’t worry) and as soon as I got home I was hungry again so Jamie and I went for a pizza.
I can’t wait for my next White Star Running adventure!