I had one more race to do in my series of 4 in 4 weeks and was really looking forward to this one – the Larmer Tree Marathon by White Star Running. The first WSR race of the season. I was a little bit nervous, I’ve never done so many consecutive marathons and I really wanted to make it. To improve my chances, I tried to make sure that my body was in great condition and the best way to do that, was to go and see Phillipa in the Guildford Sports Clinic. I’ve been seeing her for a while now and she always makes my body feel instantly better. My mind follows by default and I just feel happier, stronger and less achy 😉

I had the usual stress before the race of ‘how the hell am I going to get there’. All the friends that were willing to help were going to the Rushmore Estate on Friday or Saturday, but on Saturday Jamie and I were going to Dorota’s birthday in London, so I had to figure out something else.

Eventually to spare me, Jamie decided to take a 4h round trip just to take me there! What would I do without him!

The Saturday party didn’t quite go to plan, we ended up being stuck on a delayed train from Waterloo and getting home was an absolute mission. Eventually we got back after midnight, not ideal considering that we had to be up at ‘crazy o’clock’ and drive/run a lot.

The weather in Rushmore didn’t look great on Saturday, but I was hoping that it would get better by Sunday. It didn’t. Jamie and I got up early to the murky-murk, but hey-ho, what doesn’t kill you and all that…

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We got to Rushmore and I went to register. On his way back Jamie saw a Peacock having trouble with her car by the side of the road and stopped to help. I hope she managed to get to the race in time and had a good run 🙂

In the meantime I completed registration, picked up my Season Ticket Holder hoodie and said hello to people.

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Mrs. Race Director was selling merchandise and Mr Race Director was keeping a close eye on her from the outside ;P

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It was still drizzling, some dogs were hiding under tables, others just wanted their human.

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Julia, Theresa and Kostas were doing their first WSR race, How exciting!

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After the race briefing we started running and I set off on my own. This was unusual for me, but felt right at the time.

We went down the road away from the Larmer Tree Gardens, had our pictures taken by supporters and were told that we looked good 😉

The route took us into the wilderness very quickly and into the mud. The weather wasn’t great but at least it stopped raining, ‘every little helps’.

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After the initial mud, we went back onto road and hard tracks, I got to see many familiar faces.

It was kind of cold but then when we started running it got warm pretty quickly, they’re (I don’t really know who ‘they’ are) always saying: ‘start a race a bit cold and once you start running you should be just right’. I’m happy to take my layers off, I’m not too keen on the whole cold thing.

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We got to the first aid station and carried on following the road. The area was very pretty even in the doom and gloom.

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Back on woodland paths and back in mud. I usually prefer that to road, in fact I prefer most things to road 😉

We went through the woods and by the fields and suddenly the area started becoming familiar and we were at the second aid station that was 400m-ish from the finish (tempting).

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We carried on down the hill and across the road and back through the fields, I remembered this area well, very pretty but not far away from the epic hill…

I knew that we would pass this area again on our way back and the marshals were already there to provide some spontaneous first aid. Ready as ever!

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And then the hill. Loooovely! We all had a good moan, thank you 😉

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Rob was at the top waiting for us with his camera and it was lovely to see him.

At the top of the hill we joined the road leading towards the Rushmore estate, past the familiar site of the Ox Head Quarters.

Another station was there waiting for us with… rubber chickens under kilts.

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And some optimistic sunglasses action – which actually brought us sun later!

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Back on the trail and back to mud. The terrain was quite tricky and it was easy to slip and fall. This is why I like trail, it’s ‘entertaining’ for my feet and I have to watch my every step, time passes quickly and I don’t even notice when I’m getting stronger. I really believe trail is the way to go, I love it, it’s awesome. The harder the better (up to a point).

Here’s Jim, posing with the mud:

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I kept on meeting Ivor on route, I was passing him and then I was getting stuck in the sticky mud and he was catching up with me and overtaking me, it was like a game 😀

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Big hill:

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And more mud.

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We were going through beautiful woodland and having fun, really.

Another hill – steep down and just as steep back up again. Some people decided to opt for the easy option of sliding.

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Past the golf course with some motivational signs tailored to us:

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The wider tracks were generally better and without as much mud:

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But not always:

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There was no logic really to the mud, there was a lot of it EVERYWHERE!

And it seemed like there was more to come!

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The next aid station was just around the corner and it had our lovely Carmen and her cakes! Nom!

But then I had to keep on going and it was the longest path ever! I remembered it well from previous races. It has a slight incline and it never ends. I always attempt to run it, but nah, it never lasts long. There’s nothing wrong with walking, is there 😉

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Finally we got to a turn and we were free. Back in the woodland away from the evil path.

The weather was brightening up and it felt so nice to be outside.

Another water station and a chance to catch up with Anna! 😀

After refreshments we carried on and I started running with Helen.

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Helen was great company, we talked a lot about triathlons and I was getting more and more convinced to do one eventually 😀

We saw a girl suffering badly with asthma, it was quite scary to watch, but Helen asked all the right questions and after some reassurance that she would be OK and walk if she needed to, Helen and I carried on.

Back in the woodland we could already see what was to come for the Ox Marathon, all the wild garlic was coming out!

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We went down the hill towards the road and James was there making sure everything was going well. He was reluctant to pose, but by the time I took the picture it was too late to complain 😀

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Back up into the woods and into more mud. This was a seriously slippery and tricky path, there were casualties of mud.

I was so tired, the Lovestation was much needed. We went past the fields and back into woodland. I remembered the area and I also remembered how much Amy and I were looking forward to the Lovestation last year.

The route snaked between the trees and the path was uneven, I went ahead as I couldn’t wait any longer. Finally, there was a sign (and it opened up my eyes) and I could see the pink tents through the trees. Yesss!

Helen and Ian were there getting some refreshments:

After getting all the love and kisses in the world… and potentially some Peach Death Vodka I felt suitable re-energised.

Oh! I nearly forgot, there was some more mud:

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I carried on, it wasn’t far now, just 10K (I never thought I was going to say that), but this is what happens when you join crazy running people and all the marathons just sneak up on you.

This was my ‘second wind’. I got more energy and just went for it. I managed to overtake a few people, I knew exactly where the route was going and I knew that past the field there would be a lovely downhill. Just before… another big hill.

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I was tired again and I was walking, I could already see the hill in the distance. This was when I met Fiona, a lovely Irish girl. We started talking and she was so much fun I nearly forgot about the pain.

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We walked up the hill where we meet Naomi and Greg.

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During our chat Fiona mentioned that she lived near me and offered me a lift home. This was the best thing ever! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.

I have to say we were having quite a good time! We got to the top and across the field and it was time to go back down to the last aid station.

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I may have ended up chatting to Nikki and losing my running crew. When I left the station I went on a manic chase and finally managed to catch up with them by the road. But Gary was there so, I couldn’t have possibly carried on without taking a picture 😀

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Onto the catch up mission once again. This time it was up hill – not ideal! I managed, but then I spotted Denise so I just had to go a little bit further.

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Quick picture and I was off again as I saw Jim and Steve who were nearly by the 400m-ish to go sign.

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Quick! Jim, Steve and I were overtaking each other throughout the whole race, I absolutely had to catch up with them!

They both encouraged me when I went past saying that I could overtake the other runners in front of me. Yes, I am a slow runner who sprints the last 400m as if it makes a difference 😀

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And then, right before the finish line, from the corner of my eye, I saw Guy trying to cross the line before me!

Look, there he was:

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Not this time, Guy! I still had some sprint juice in me and didn’t let him win.

Jenny and Julie were there for the final hug and I took a pic with the RD too!

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Fiona finished shortly after and introduced me to Leo, another lovely Irish person 🙂

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We then went to hunt some food and I had a chance to catch up with Lisa and Eric, who recently got there 100 Marathon Club Vests!

Philillipa was there too:

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And Lee was there, with a friend who was running her first marathon – well done to you both!

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Just before Fiona and I left, I caught up with Tara and Ruth, it was so nice to see them.

Let’s not forget Chris:

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What an amazing event it was, so many familiar faces and even more added to my WSR Friends List.

And… just look at the medals:

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Thank you, as always to Mr & Mrs RD, the whole WSR Crew and all the lovely volunteers for another smashing event. You looked after us so well and fed us and hugged us and it was fabulous.

I finished in 05:23:33, which was 00:45:29 faster than the previous year. Happy me!

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And then back at home it was pizza and shoe cleaning time!

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