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Mud, Sweat and Ray Mears

20 March 2012

On Sunday I ran 17 miles through mud, rain, barbed wire and private property. Over dams and down hills, through nature reserves, woods and car parks. I was at my parents’ for the weekend and was more than ready to swap the litter of North London for the lambs of rural Rutland.

I got up early and crept downstairs to read the paper and eat breakfast alone in silence. Two hours later I was all dressed up and waiting in the hall for my dad to finish his tea, like a teenager late for a party.

After an initial stretch of road-side running, my route headed towards Rutland Water. Within 15 minutes of being dropped off in Manton I had turned my ankle on a stony track, covered my trainers in mud and tripped over a tree root. The rain got heavier as the route opened out and I rounded the grassy hills into the wind, but I was still smiling.

It was hard to keep my pace down in the first few miles, I was feeling so good. It doesn’t help that the first 5 miles of the route are like a mini-rollercoaster. No massive hills but a lot of sharp rises and falls, which make it difficult to stick to an even pace. As I headed towards the North shore of the reservoir I tried to slow down, to the bemusement of a crowd of woolly spectators.


The next 7 miles were fairly uneventful – I know this route really well and apart from a couple of very sharp uphills it’s mostly smooth cycle tracks. The rain stopped for a while and I tried to concentrate on maintaining a steady pace, keeping my head up and remembering to say hello to passing walkers (not in London now, Gina).

At 12 miles, I took a literal turn for the worse. I headed into Egleton village, assuming I could add on a few miles to the run by retuning through the nature reserve. This turns out not to be the case. After going through two different gates saying “no entry”, and testing my internal compass to breaking point, I eventually decided to climb over two barbed wire fences in the belief that this would lead back to the road. Were 17 miles were about to turn into 22 with only some sport beans for sustenance? Where was Ray Mears when I needed him? I ran up a(nother) dirt track anxiously. A road! Relief.

We’d arranged that Dad would pick me up again at the end, and I’d calculated my timing to the minute. He called me 10 minutes before the agreed meeting time.  “What are you calling me for?”, I panted. “We’re here, but you’re not here, where are you?”. “I’m still running, I’ve got 1.5 miles to go yet”. “Oh well, we’re here, shall we wait?”. I did not reply.

The rain started up again in the last couple of miles, which was dispiriting, and then my sister called for a gossip, which was disconcerting, but eventually it was over. I ran the last two miles at faster than marathon pace partly for the hell of it, and partly out of fear that Dad would actually drive away.

I ended the run tired, wet and very very dirty. Also happy.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 March 2012 1:24 pm

    You mucky pupkin! Did Dad make you sit on newspaper in the car, comming back covered in that?
    But sounds like a much better route than the streets of London – can you tell I run in the countryside? 😉

    • 20 March 2012 6:43 pm

      I am so jealous of your long country runs!

      I had track suit bottoms to cover the legs in the car…

  2. 21 March 2012 11:59 am

    Jumping barbed wire fences – that is dedication!

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