I was so excited about this run, I couldn’t wait!
Considering that the event was going to be fun (this was a given), I invited a few friends to come along and camp with us.
We’d been pre-warned by Andy (WSR RD) that the traffic was going to be horrendous due to an annual steam fair in Blandford Forum. Jamie and I left around 10 am on Saturday. We opted for a picturesque route that Google Maps suggested to avoid motorways and all the traffic. We even stopped for lunch.
We got to East Farm around 3pm, set up our 8min tent and then our friends started arriving.
Once we were all set up, we went to check out the event village and say hello to peeps. I was very excited to see all my WSR friends.
We chatted to Andy, Kevin and Denise, had dinner and then went back to the tents to chill with a beer.
Traditionally I couldn’t sleep and woke up early. The weather was a bit meh, you can see droplets on our tent:
Jamie and I went to the event village to find shelter and coffee, Amy was already there finishing her breakfast.
This is my sleepy face having porridge:
Just so that it all makes sense, I’ll give you a bit of background as to what this event was all about. East Farm Frolic was a 12h event, either an individual race or a relay, up to you.
You could run:
- Solo – you’re in this on your own i.e. have no friends, are antisocial, or you wanted your marathon/ultra to count towards the 100 marathon club.
- Pair, three, four – relay race, depending on how many ‘real’ friends you’ve got😉 you alternate your laps, you know what a relay is.And then there was the baton! It was a rubber chicken! Smelly (it smelled of rubber), pink and purple, rubber chicken. Have I mentioned rubber?
If you were a part of a team you had to run a lap with the chicken and then pass it over to the next person. Simple as that. But what about the solo runners? Well, don’t you worry about them, they got their chickens in a goody bag. They were running a long way🙂
A lap was around 6km, which meant that I had to do 7 laps to complete a marathon (I was running solo) and could then retire and drink beer and socialise with my friends who weren’t running. Awesome!
Jamie, Amy and I went to the start for the race briefing as the others were still asleep.
So many people we met in the morning mentioned that they liked my blog! I felt pretty special! Thank you all :*
There were so many dressed up runners and everyone looked awesome!
After the briefing the relay runners had to pump their chickens up, as they came squashed in the post and the solo runners just looked and laughed (with reasonable jealousy).
But all good things come to an end and we had to start running eventually. I knew that the first bit of the route was uphill, I wasn’t looking forward to that!
I was running with Tara and Amy – the Dream Team😀
We started running up a hill, with the campsite to the right, so we could keep an eye on our non-running friends and wake them up if they were in their tents for too long!
Then the route flattened, only to take us to the footsteps of the biggest hill of the race (aka a walk break).
Then across the top, which was exposed and the sideways wind didn’t spare any of us!
Shelter wasn’t far though, we got to a woodland bit where you had to watch your step. Even during the day, it was quite dark and therefore tricky… with roots and holes and badgers and everything!
Then we got to an open field with a… downhill:
And a hay obstacle:
Thank you Rob for great pics of us, here’s one for you:
Then just a little bit further down and then up again.
The uphill bit lead through a field that was freshly harvested and the soil was fluffy and therefore stuck to our shoes. It was like wearing snow shoes made out of mud and hay.
At the top was a farm and parts of the path were covered in cement, very slippery considering that now the shoes had no grip whatsoever, but we managed and nobody got hurt!
Now, the next bit was fun, it was a really long downhill section… downhills are always fun, and from the top we could see the Lovestation in the distance! Yesss!
And for some reason this is the bit where it always rained or drizzled.
There was however a small incline before we got there, not too bad though.
And then the Lovestation! It’s always amazing!
If you haven’t done a WSR race before, the Lovestation is usually strategically placed 10 km (6 miles if you’re imperial) from the finish. This is where the organisers check that you are OK to carry on and where you can indulge in one or all of the following options:
- something stronger (squash)
- something even stronger (specially produced tipple)
- dog (this is not always guaranteed), however they had one this time and he wanted all the food! Very cute!
*They had all the food. They had Vegan food! Carmen, the chocolate cake was insane! NOM!
Let’s not forget the marshals as they do all the hard work to make it a Lovestation and they are fabulous! I can’t emphasise enough what a difference they make. Here are Melanie and Clare:
So when you think to yourself ‘I hate laps!’ just think about the Lovestation, or one Lovestation every 6-ish km. That’s not bad at all, that’s actually quite good!
After taking some compulsory pictures with the team we carried on. The rest was all downhill (!), through two fields and we were back at the Farm Shop and the start/finish point.
This is where Anthony from Xmiles was set up with a Tailwind station! This was pretty cool as we were all getting Tailwind to try. I like Tailwind, it’s very easy nutrition that keeps you going if you are running a long distance.
Amy and I had Tara with us for the second lap as well but then she went off to run a lot of laps and break records and win awards😀
We were chatting so much (and when I say we, I actually mean mostly me…) that when Ruth caught up with us she commented that she could hear my jabbering from miles away😉 oh dear… note to self: talk less or just not as loud😉
Amy and I stayed together. I really couldn’t wait to run with Amy, she was out of action since March, when we did the Peacock race together. She was always around, helping to marshal at the Ox and the Invader but it’s not quite the same. Running with Amy means that I could have her with me for a solid 6h+! Result!😀
David was working at the Lovestation in his cheerful cow outfit.
He mentioned that he really liked my previous blog posts and was really looking forward to this one🙂 It felt soooooo great, thank you! And sorry that I made you wait so long for this post.
The third lap was done and I stopped to say hello to Jamie who was spectating at the Event Village (you can always spot Jamie by the banana trail that he leaves behind him everywhere he goes😉 ).
Quick chat with Chris:
The fourth lap started and we knew exactly what was coming. In our heads we divided the route in two: the tough half and the easy half. I don’t think they were actually halves in distance, but that’s a minor detail. The first half contained all of the hills and finished with the death defying slippery cement (you know it wasn’t really dangerous, right?). After completing that bit, all we had left was downhills, the Lovestation and more downhills! The second half was awesome. It felt almost as if all we had to do was the first half and then once it was done, the rest was a breeze.
Since we’d done over half of the distance, we decided to celebrate with something really strong. Lemoncello dipped in vegan banana cake. I don’t think that Kevin approved but we loved it!
When we got to the start/finish point Julius mentioned that he may give us his dog George for one of the laps. I was sooooo excited. So much so that the fifth lap was done, as if by magic and we had just two laps to go.
Just in case you need to understand the dog thing:
Lap 6 was the George lap! I don’t think George wanted to run with me as much as I wanted to run with him. I think he didn’t really care😉 I think he would’ve preferred to either stay or run with Julius, but here he was running with me and Amy.
And then it happened… Julius caught up with us on the sticky, muddy hill. George was ecstatic and really wanted to go with him… unfortunately, I’m not as fast as Julius, but George was persistent so we ended up doing a lot of short sprints and then stopping and trying to calm down (me physically and George emotionally).
Everybody loved George, the Lovestation became even better because of him and everything was awesome.
Amy and I gave George back to Julius, look how happy George was:
And the time had come for the celebratory lap! We knew that we would finish the marathon and this was the time to party (as much as you can ‘party’ during a run).
Or a cup of tea:
We were pretty chuffed with ourselves and we even took a detour to take some additional pictures, why not?
We were very happy to see the amazing Lovestation crew once again and bounced downhill to the finish.
Jamie was waiting there for us and we got hugs and medals and goodie bags with… rubber chickens!
Have you named yours? Mine is called Sheldon!
So it was our turn to make the chickens 3D again:
After all the joy, we went to join our friends at the tents for drinks and food.
We decided to go for the unusual option of a Nepalese takeaway at the campsite and it was lush! If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it😀
The evening was fun with prize givings for crazy running (most miles etc.) and drinks and catch ups.
To sum it up, it was the easiest marathon that I’ve done to date (number 18). Not because of the course that was still tricky at times, but because of the amazing company of friends and wonderful organisation. It felt like a run in the park.
I know that a lot of you out there run for speed and PBs etc – including me – and that’s absolutely fine, but if so, maybe try not to sometime. Stop and enjoy what you are doing for a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed running quite so much and I know that it will sound really cheesy, but success tastes so much better if you can share it. Running with friends is amazing and when you achieve things together it feels like you achieved so much more than just a PB badge on Strava. Just try it once and I promise to shut up😉