I couldn’t wait for December and it wasn’t because of Christmas. It had been over three months since the last White Star Running event and I was getting withdrawal symptoms! But it was finally December and the Bovington Marathon was just around the corner. I was very excited!

As per tradition, the Fitstuff Christmas party was the night before 😀 Oh well… nothing could be done, so Jamie and I went out for some light partying with fellow Fitstuffers.

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We got home after the dinner around 23:00 and I wasn’t feeling optimistic about the 4:45 am start. I was being picked up by Ercole at 5:30. That was a very early Sunday!

Ercole was there on time so I said goodbye to fast asleep Jamie, took my coffee and ventured outside. It was a very quiet, very dark and very ‘it’s better in bed’ kind of morning.

We had 2 hours’ driving ahead of us, but it went very quickly as we discussed Brexit and what it’s like to be a foreigner in the UK 🙂

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We got to the race HQ and the whole setup looked very eerie… There was fog and orange street lights that made me think about the years of communism in Poland. Even the tanks seemed to fit this setup! Just to clarify, I was around at the time when the martial law was announced in Poland and there were tanks in the streets, but at 6 months old I wasn’t old enough to remember it.

Anyway!

We registered:

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Took a few pictures with the tanks:

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Said hello to Mr Badger:

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I quickly went to catch up with Anthony from XMiles and got a supply of Tailwind. Thank you!

It was time for the race briefing during which Andy told us not to pick up stuff from the ground, especially shiny stuff because “if something looks like it might explode, it probably will.” Well… we had been warned.

The next thing on Andy’s agenda was an announcement, a very happy announcement. Helen, whom I met at the Wedding Cow and camped next to during various subsequent WSR events was celebrating. 10 years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and has made it against the odds. I’m so happy to have met her. Helen is a person you will instantly like (yes, she’s one of those), talk to her when you get a chance.

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After that Andy, the Race Director mentioned the ‘Pamela competition’… It had been so wet that despite it being December, it made him think about Baywatch. The competition was to become Pamela for the day and run in an ‘appropriate’ outfit. As far as I know there was one participant and was by default the winner.

Look how stunning the winter version of Pamela was:

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Just before the race was about to begin, Tara spotted me in the crowd and came over. I wasn’t wearing my Wonder Woman outfit so was practically camouflaged and Tara only had Wonder Woman legs – trickier to spot than a whole Wonder Woman.

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It was so nice to see her. It had been too long.

I knew that Victoria with whom I ran the Meon Valley Marathon was somewhere in the crowd but I couldn’t see her at all.

There were so many people, and I was wondering if they were all running the marathon, it seemed like it was the biggest WSR marathon to date.

David was there saying that he couldn’t wait to read my blog. Thank you for all your lovely words, it’s always a pleasure!

The race started and Ercole went ahead, I knew he would be done in half the time we would, so there was no point trying to run together.

I saw Eric (wearing a pristine white suit!) and his wife but didn’t get a chance to take a proper picture of them.

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There were so many spectators as well, the atmosphere was fantastic!

 

The short bit on road quickly changed into a track that lead us into a false sense of security.

Soon there was congestion and the reason for it was a massive puddle. Some avoided it, some didn’t. It’s so hard if you get your feet wet in the first kilometres of a race, that I usually try to avoid it for as long as I can.

 

 

And there was Danny the Legend:

 

Inspirational slogans:

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The terrain was OK and the views were beautiful, especially considering the fact that the sun was still quite low and it was foggy.

 

 

We took every opportunity to take pictures with ‘KEEP OUT’ signs. It’s kind of cool when you are allowed to go where you wouldn’t normally – especially if it’s a tank training ground!

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The route took us up and down and through some puddles.

 

There were tanks scattered everywhere. Tara is pointing one out, it’s difficult to see due to its’ camouflage 😀

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And then there was this view:

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Wow! It was so beautiful.

 

Finally we got to the first station (whoop!) and was greeted by very glamorous women of the military.

 

 

We carried on and here it was… the mud. It was like running on a beach through very wet sand.

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But then there were the views:

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But then there was the mud:

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Here is Tara sinking in mud:

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Views, mud, views, mud, views, mud, you must get the picture by now.

 

There were also cool road crossings, explosives and downhills:

 

 

 

Tara and I managed to catch up with Bryan. We were all wondering why we were struggling so much. We were nowhere near half way and it was such a struggle. The mud was draining us and it was the flu season and we were all feeling it.

 

After more views and hills we met Santa in the woods! This is where she hangs out before Christmas, You can still sit on her lap and all that, you just won’t get presents.

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We got to a floodplain-like area, wet and tough but still pretty!

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After a big hill we got to… tanks.

 

 

They are quite impressive machines 🙂

More mud:

 

And more views:

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Finally we got to the Mr Badger aka Private Parts stop (with dogs!):

 

We then nearly went the wrong way, the route was very well marked but sometimes you can stare at an arrow and go the other way anyway. It happens, it’s called ‘you are tired’.

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Fortunately another station was just around the corner. Mr DirtyBertie (Do NOT touch the beard) was there and all the lovely marshals and ALL THE FOOD.

We were quite exhausted but we carried on and this is what was waiting for us:

 

But soon Tara and I were joined by Ruth! Whoop!

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Back in the woodland and the route was snaking round, this time I spotted an arrow at the last minute that otherwise we would be missed. It’s not like it was hidden, it just happens, you are tired and you simply miss or don’t see them. Like when you’re looking for an item (car keys) that is just in front of you but you still can’t find it. And so it happened that some runners went the wrong way. Some people apparently managed to do more miles and some less than a marathon. Does it matter? I’m not sure, I think it’s up to you. Especially with off-road running, there will be events when you will do over and there will be ones that will come under in terms of a distance. Stay safe, if you feel like you can’t backtrack to make up the time, carry on, the world is not going to end.

She says… but ask me when I’m actually in a similar situation myself and the answer may be different 😀

 

 

Then we saw more tanks:

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And another station. I really needed that, the mud was absolutely killing me. Thankfully Carmen was there (in swim suit) with her amazing vegan cakes!

 

 

We were about 30 km in when Ercole texted that he’d finished. We were hoping that the course wasn’t much longer than a marathon.

All I wanted now was a Lovestation and to be able to start my countdown of 10km to go!

 

Soon we were there and the signage was suitably confusing:

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Do we go in, do we not go in? We went in!

This was the time to have an encouraging alcoholic drink. Nom!

 

Surely enough there was more mud waiting for us:

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With 10km to go I could almost see home and I was feeling quite good. Tara and Ruth had been great at supporting me and now it was my turn to support them. Unfortunately it turned out that I wasn’t as good at that as they were. All I could come up with was ‘We could make it in under 6 hours’ which is the trick that Dorota used on me during the Glencoe Marathon.

The last kilometre was quite fun, as if it wasn’t muddy enough or flooded enough already, it took is through water crossings that we couldn’t avoid.

Oh well, in we went. I have to say, it actually felt quite nice to have my feet submerged in the cold water 🙂

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We knew we were nearly there!

 

Tara, Ruth and I crossed the finish line together holding hands in victory (mainly over mud). However bad my encouragement was, we made it under 6 hours… just!

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We got our medals and took pictures.

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Chris was there in charge of goody bags, it was so nice to see him, He’s always so encouraging 😀 We were chatting and I remembered afterwards that we were meant to compare our Carpal Tunnel Decompression scars but we forgot.

An obligatory picture with Mr RD:

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Then I saw Anthony again, he was just packing up. Fortunately he was happy for me to get Tailwind. I knew I was going to need it next week at the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon.

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Before leaving, Ercole and I had a much needed meal in the Tank Museum’s café and headed back. Thank you for giving me a lift!

 

Just in case you wondered what the route looked like here it is:

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Thank you Andy, Ginny and the whole crew at WSR for organising this event. We fully appreciate the effort that went into getting ALL the land permissions and putting this event together. Thank you for looking after us and your sense of humour, it does make a difference. See you again very soon!

One more thing: WSR events are often organised over a weekend or (even better) a long weekend, one day events are definitely too short! How is one supposed to catch up with everybody? 😉 Maybe it’s time to consider a week-long event? 5 in 5? Just saying…

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