Another Beautiful day out in the countryside. The Fairlands Valley Challenge is one of those marathons I'd heard of years ago, but never got around to doing before now. There was a huge 100 club presence today - some of them ran the course starting at midnight so that they could help out at the checkpoints for the main event today. [Hopefully I'll do that next year - this year I decided it was more important to get a good night's sleep with Lakeland looming ever closer.]
It was great to see even more familiar faces than usual, with a pretty high Fetchie turnout too. There were also 12 and 18 mile runs as well as the option to start on the half hour from 9am to 10:30. A great value race, with food and drinks available at 6 checkpoints (all manned by friendly and supportive volunteers), a medal and certificate for finishing, then a free barbeque at the end too.
Actually I kind of lied about not having done this one - we ran the course in the winter when other events were canceled and Roger Biggs organised this at very short notice in the snow. When I say we, I ran with Heather again - always great. We spent yet another day gently jogging round chatting and grinning. We must have been pretty quick, as we had to stop to read the route instructions (no marshalls or arrows to point the way) and stop to refill water and get our cards stamped at each checkpoint, yet we still finished in 4:17. That'll do nicely.At one point I thought I had a stone in my shoe, but realised it was too painful for a stone and indeed it turned out that a sharp thorn had gone right through the sole of my shoe into the sole of my foot. Ouch. Then as we stood around at the finish, I thought I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I was slightly puzzled as it wasn't set to vibrate mode. Putting my hand in my pocket to be stung by a bee explained that one. Even more scratches were added to my shins from brambles (I had a pretty impressive collection already, from walking and running on the South Downs on the D of E trip last week) and much nettle stingage meant I finished feeling a little battered, but very happy.
And so begins my taper. Friday at 5:30pm I'll be in Coniston for the start of the Lakeland 100. I am looking forward to it very much and also very aware that it will be immensely challenging. The Lakeland 50 last year remains the toughest event I have ever done so far...