Bovington Marathon 16th December 2017

To say that there was some anticipation prior to this race would be a massive understatement. Not only it’s a winter WSR race, so the last time I’d seen my WSR Family was in September, but it was also meant to be my 50th marathon.

I was taking it really easy since my last long run on 19th November 2017 and mending injuries (posterior tibial tendonitis, bursitis and knee problems) that decided to gang up against me just before my 50th! I became a regular at Guildford Sports Clinic and was doing my RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) religiously.

The night before the race I was getting ready (packing, etc.) and I saw Julie’s post on Facebook reminding everyone about their race numbers (they were sent in the post in advance). I put my number under my kit to ensure that I wouldn’t forget it. The last thing one wants is to be that nightmare runner who forgot their number!

 The rest of the evening Jamie and I spent chilling and decorating 60 gingerbread Rogers (Roger the Anteater) for the Fitstuff Christmas Party – this was an ultimate test of spelling my name in icing (after about 20, even I almost got it wrong and that was the short version of my name!).

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We got up in the darkness and set off from Godalming at 5:45 to pick up Lynsey from Guildford. It was perfect, as we were then close to the A3 driving straight out towards Bovington. The morning was cold and frosty and I was really hoping for some sunshine during the race.

When we got Lynsey, her and I started going through what food and drink we had (essentials 😉 ) and I realised that I forgot my Lucozade, which is usually my post-race treat:

“It’s OK” I said… “Could have been worse… I could have forgotten…”

And then I realised!

 “My race number! I forgot my RACE NUMBER!”

 I am that nightmare person that turns up at a race without their race number!

Jamie and Lynsey thought I was joking… I wish I was… we had to go on a 30min+ detour back to Godalming before we could actually leave for Bovington. Not ideal to say the least. All that time the we would have hadspare for faffing, chatting and getting cold was irrevocably lost. I felt sick, bad and was feeling very stressed. Aaaanyway…

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We got to Bovington with no time to spare and the mad rush continued with trying to find safety pins and water for Lynsey.

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Eventually we were ready and headed off towards the race start, missing the briefing completely (Sorry Andy!)

We even had some time to take a picture before the start 😉 don’t know what all the rush was all about 😀

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Lynsey and I said goodbye to Jamie and started our run to victory, it was Lynsey’s first marathon (she may have done an ultra before – as you do).

The race route is very difficult to describe/remember… it’s like a snake got drunk and went for a walk. To be completely honest, this is partly why I love it. I seemed to remember places from last year, recognise bits of route or just suddenly realise that “we’ve been here before” (not in a bad way).

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The race started on road leading away from the Tank Museum, into the wilderness and military training ground.

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The ground was hard with a lot of slippery areas and frozen puddles. I felt a bit like “Bambi on ice”, so tried running on grass wherever possible. It was still quite cold.

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We’d been warned in the race instructions that there are 4 rivers to cross at the start… in miles 1 and 2, and that there is no way to avoid them (piggy back?). Lynsey and I briefly contemplated using bags to protect our beautiful feet from trench foot but in the end decided against it, too much faff.

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And indeed, the rivers were there, it seems like there were more than 4. The race instructions were correct, it was very hard to avoid them. Lynsey and I followed others and tried to go in the shallow end. The water was cold and I was hoping that the hole in my shoe that let the water in, would also let it out. Wishful thinking.

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It was cold, but the sun made it all better. The views were beautiful:

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We got to the woodland and that’s when the hills started. That was a fun, walking break.

Andy was en route looking really cold. Seeing him, I was very pleased to be running…

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We found the uphills and the downhills great fun, like a bit of rest and a bit of fast running. We met people and had fun, the time was passing fast. I can’t remember the first water station (at 5km) I don’t think we even stopped.

Before we knew it, we got to a field of tanks, that’s always a great picture opportunity!

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Then there was the sand of doom. I’m sure everyone know how much fun it is to run in sand 😀 There was also mud, let’s not forget mud. Don’t we all love mud? 😉

Pascale and her friend caught up with us. I met Pascale at the Bad Cow, she casually rocked up and came 2nd lady in a hard race, hats off! Pascale’s friend (I’m sorry, I forgot your name) was running her first trail marathon – what a choice, hats off again!

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I was glad to see the Lovestation – 10km done. As per usual, they had some neat stuff there. My highlights included kisses from Hannah (it’s somewhat a tradition now) and gherkins. I know that this is a very sensitive subject that often divides runners… would you have a gherkin during a run? I was so pleased! It may have been a mistake to have them with Coke, but hey, you only live once! 😉

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We crossed the road only to get back to extremely muddy and flooded woods. On this occasion we chatted to Lisa mainly about my snakes (that she’s afraid of – we are working on it!) and the 50 miler Centurion Grand Slam that she completed recently. Such an inspiration. I find it helpful during races to talk about other races that are/were harder in one way or another… somehow it makes it easier, especially if you think that Bovington could be 50 miles long… suddenly 26.2/28 miles doesn’t sound so bad. Don’t you think? 😉

Here are some pictures of hills, views, mud and freezing cold water to keep you entertained:

Another water station – 16km. A massive thank you to all the marshals who were standing in that cold to help us hydrate and feed. You are all my heroes, I would have died (I don’t do cold, yes, I know I’m Polish, no, I still don’t do cold).

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Hi Ian!
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 More views, signs, mud, etc.

At 23km was a full aid station and it was wonderful to see Louise, Clare and Andrew.

This was a time for a little celebration for me and Lynsey, we were half way in. And what is the best way to celebrate during a freezing cold race? A sip of homemade (I’m not going to brag about it) quince vodka:

I have no idea what happened next (this is not because of the vodka, we only had a little bit to warm us up!), the terrain was hard and running was also beginning to be harder and harder… and of course there was sand, mud, hills… all the usual suspects at a WSR race 😉

Here’s a summary in pictures:

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The highlight was seeing Tara and Neil. Tara was doing her 100th marathon. Wow! What a legend!

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Lynsey started having problems with her knee and I was getting tired and moany. I was hoping that the Lovestation would be there soon. Unfortunately it was nowhere to be seen. Instead there was a water station at the 30km mark. That was lovely because Carmen was there and it’s always really nice to see her!

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However this was also when I realised that we have a long way to go. Don’t get me wrong, this was to be expected, it’s a WSR race, it’s going to be further than a marathon, I just didn’t expect the sand and mud to suck that much energy out of me.

We stopped for a little bit to rest and stretch and then started walking up a sandy hill and then again woods, massive puddles and mud.

Lynsey and I entertained ourselves talking to Ivor and Simon and we kept on passing each other, that made it slightly easier.

I knew that we still had 10km to go from the Lovestation and I was hoping that we will get to the Lovestation soon. Between my tiredness and Lynsey’s knee, I felt like we were struggling more and more… To make matters worse, I was getting hungry (you really don’t want a hungry Pole!) I was looking forward to a jacket potato from the restaurant at the Tank Museum, I had one last year and I’d been talking about it before we even started running. If someone gave me one then, I don’t think I would have finished the race, I would have been stuffing my face with a jacket potato and baked beans! I’m so high maintenance!

Finally we got to a familiar bit of woodland and I knew that on the other side of it, when we crossed the road there would be the Lovestation waiting for us.

When we eventually got there we may have had second helpings of kisses and gin toddy.

Hannah confirmed that we had 6 to go… Unfortunately that was miles not kilometres. Nevertheless… the final countdown.

When we got to the ‘rivers’ I lost all my sense of direction and track of time, I was tired. I knew that we couldn’t have been too far but I had no idea how much was left exactly.

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Lynsey’s knee was really hurting her and we were walking. I was really worried that she’d hurt herself. We met Duncan who was also injured, so we all had a chance for a good moan 😀

When Lynsey and I got to the road crossing and could see the Tank Museum I realised that we could still finish the race in under 6hrs. Lynsey was amazing, pushing for the final kilometres despite the knee.

I texted Jamie to say that we were close and as we turned the corner I could see him waving at us!

We crossed the finish line in 05:58:47 which is one second over my time from previous year (consistent!). The distance was however longer this year so I’m very happy 😉 and we finished under 6hrs! Yesss!

Lynsey got me this badge… saying “50 today”, thank you! I ran with it on my bag pack all the way. I would also like to thank everyone who wished me happy 50th birthday 😀 Oh, how we laugh 😉

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But seriously, I felt so incredibly lucky, getting so many messages of support en route and so many comments. I can’t thank you enough. It means so much to me and it really makes that much easier with you “running by my side”.

Jenny and Julie were there giving out their most famous ‘happy finish’ hugs and medals, we also got beer and neck warmer thingies.

Jamie had a special Roger The Anteater, handmade (and most importantly ;), the biggest one yet) medal for me.

Then we did some celebrating with Polish Bison Grass Vodka (here’s a link about the grass itself).

Thank you so much Andy and The WSR Team for looking after all the runners so well and a special thank you for a lovely surprise that you got me, I love it!

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 Massive congratulations to Tara on her 100th Marathon!

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It was a brutal marathon, but this is precisely the point, the distance was longer (which is like a WSR signature), there’s sand, mud, hills and it’s cold (no sh*t Sherlock – it’s December). Do not underestimate these runs, they are hard work, despite 80% of the runners wearing tutus, these are real athletes. Nobody said you can’t have fun whilst working hard 😉

Thank you so much Lynsey, you are a star and a fabulous running partner!

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It’s such a shame that this race may not happen again due to stuff and things… I love it!

See you all next time!