Ahhhh November, and this month I am determined not to finish the month wishing I had tried a bit harder, eaten a bit better, trained a bit more, drank a bit less. So far I’m a couple of weeks in and doing a pretty good job, I can’t claim to have been a saint, but I’ve drunk less often, eaten well more often and started building the training back up after my most recent bout of injury.

I decided to book a race to keep the motivational train rolling, and landed on the Ashford Tri Club 666 trail run. It was advertised as 6.66 miles of muddy trails through Kings Wood near Ashford, which is only about an hour away from home, a run that would incorporate a lot of hills, including some steep enough to require ropes to help you up. Sounded like fun so I signed both myself and my husband up.

Ashford Tri Club 666 Trail Run

I didn’t wake up feeling too enthusiastic about this, I hadn’t run that distance in some time (Judgement Day last month not withstanding – I failed to run much of that after twisting my ankle) and was suddenly apprehensive of the idea of such crazy hills, still I’m not one to back out of a race unless I’m completely physically incapable so there I was on a very cold, but thankfully dry, November morning picking up my race number with Phil, and laughing with the ladies on registration as they asked if I wanted them to hold Phil back for me so I could beat him.

With Phil before the race, and very glad of my dryrobe
With Phil before the race, and very glad of my dryrobe

Before starting the race we had a minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, then the klaxon sounded and we were off into the trees. The ground was covered in slippery leaves and muddy patches, and it was a while before my feet stopped feeling like blocks of ice, but the woodland was pretty and despite the advertised hills, to start with it wasn’t feeling too bad. I was holding back a little on the downhills that I would usually try and fly down, being a lover of downhill running normally, in fear of my ankle, but the uphills in the first half of the race didn’t seem too crazy to me. The areas that required ropes turned out to be more like short steep ditches rather than the long hills I had envisioned, and I didn’t even need to use the first one, the marshal made me on the second climb, they didn’t want me to slip.  Between mile’s 5 and 6 came two pretty evil hills, proper leg burners, and I was seriously starting to run out of energy by the end of the race, starting to glance at my watch more and more often, willing the last few miles to tick off.

Somewhere mid run
Somewhere mid run

Still struggling with a lack of running and general fitness lately, this race was a real tonic. It was beautiful, it was a nice day to run despite being cold, it had enough challenging elements to keep me interested, tough up hills, muddy paths and slippery leaves, and it was a very friendly atmosphere. I also managed a pretty decent placing considering I felt far from my best. The final little bit felt like hard work, my legs just didn’t have much left in them, but I managed an attempt at a sprint to the line, and finished in good spirits. I would definitely do this race again!

UK OCR Championship

Now there was no earthly way I was ever going to compete in this race, actually I didn’t even bother to try and qualify, being that my technical obstacle ability is non-existent, but I did decide to get up early anyway and travel with Vince to Pippingford to watch some of it.

With Vince before his race
With Vince before his race

It’s always a privileged to get to watch people much better and braver than you are tackle a tough course and I had a a great, albeit cold, day hanging around, watching parts of the race and catching up with friends, some of whom I’d not seen in far too long.

RPCC's Dean Constable flying over the obstacles
RPCC’s Dean Constable flying over the obstacles

It seemed to be universally acknowledged that this race was TOUGH! Once you skimmed past this opinion though it also sounds as though it was, at least mostly, a good race, utilising the terrain of Pippingford well, and incorporating some good obstacles. Being a race only in it’s second year there were still teething problems, which lead to some difficult and not always popular decisions needing to be made, but there has been enough of every Tom, Dick and Harriett’s opinions on all of these things all over social media since the race without me joining in, especially as all I did was watch the race, not run it or even marshal, therefore not really entitling me to an opinion. For me, I had a great day and was so proud of everyone who took part, and was glad I dragged my tired butt out of bed to go and watch.

One of the many wonderful faces I got to catch up with :)
One of the many wonderful faces I got to catch up with 🙂