This is my annual “dig deep and keep putting one foot in front of the other” challenge in contrast to my usual orienteering races which only take about an hour. The race starts and finishes in Wooler, is normally 20 miles with 4200 ft of ascent and taking in the summits of Cheviot and Hedgehope.
This year however, due to the high rainfall making one of the river crossings dangerous, the course was changed to “only” 15 miles and 3000 ft of ascent. There are categories for runners and walkers with the walkers getting a 1 hour start on the runners, but overall about 300 people make the start.
In addition to the very wet underfoot conditions, deep puddles and bottomless peat holes this year it was very misty with visibility of no more than 100 metres, less in places. At times I couldn’t see anyone, and quite a few people went astray including a group of much faster runners who passed me twice, which was probably more amusing for me than for them ! I had one minor veer in the mist which cost me a minute but nothing disastrous.
With 3 miles to go I realised that I could just about beat the 3.5 hours so I knocked back a gel and dug in. My legs were feeling it by now and my shoulders were aching with the weight of my pack but I was spurred on to try to catch a local Wooler runner whom I’d been nip and tuck with all day. I was pleased to finish in 3:29:55 and also to finish in front of the Wooler woman who must have taken a different route near the end. I was also 2nd in the F50+ category but only 1st place gets a prize, drat.
We got our legs/shoes hosed down by one of the officials, received our special edition t-shirt and I even got a hot shower for the first time ever (there’s normally no hot water left). Then we got unlimited filled rolls, buns and cups of tea to revive us. All in all a good day out but I had to prise myself out of the car when I got home and my body needs a couple of days of rest now.
If you’re into challenges this is definitely one for your diary. Entries open online at the end of January and it’s normally full within a few days.