Yesterday I completed the Charnwood Marathon, an event organised by the Long Distance Walking Association. I'd heard of the LDWA years ago as lots of the 100 Marathon club members are big fans of these events. Some events are for walkers only, but lots have a later start time for runners to take part. They are very friendly events, with lots of fruit, cake, sandwiches & hot drinks at the checkpoints, as well as soup at the finish. They are cheaper than most road running events too. There were certificates and sew-on badges at the end rather than medals. Timing was approximate.
The Charnwood Marathon started in Quorn, Leicestershire and followed a loop trail route through many fields, tracks, paths and over hills and a gazillion stiles. It was very uneven terrain leaving me with tender ankles today. The weather varied hugely - it was windy more often than not, but we also had hot sunshine and freezing cold icy hail. The route was scenic with some great views (including from the highest point in the county) but it wasn't marked or marshalled, nor was there a route map. My Garmin produced the following:
The LDWA events involve participants being given a sheet of directions to follow. There were 2 1/2 sides of A4 with densely packed instructions: "Go thro kissing gate next to ladder stile. AH on path and downhill to X stream & thro kissing gate. TR along field edge keeping steam on R. TL at field corner, uphill with wall and wood on R,..." - that excerpt was a mere 2 lines worth! I found it extremely difficult to read and run, but fortunately I was running with an experienced LDWA member who'd mastered the knack of running down difficult terrain while both reading and eating an energy bar. Apparently it gets easier with practice. It was draining mentally to have to keep up the concentration rather than just running. We also had an orienteering-style card that had to be clipped at the checkpoints, some of which were unmanned so we just had to hunt around to find the clipper.
It was a great day out, despite the marathon taking me just over 5 hours to complete. I think I'll try some more LDWA runs in the future. They certainly make for a different sort of challenge.