|Picture Courtesy of Sunday Odesanya L-R Shawn Timmons Tremayne Dill Cowdry Luke Ashton and Andy Nuttall.|
|Picture Courtesy of Sunday Odesanya Luke Ashton and Shawn Timmons Start line Winter 100|
A quick pit stop at Wallingford and off over a bridge and we are soon into more fields and mud! There was some more road work here and then more fields and lovely mud. Up to Little Wittenham CP2 a quick turn around and heading back the same way. There had been a change to this section of the route this year which added more road. Benson Lock was closed for works hence the detour. As I was coming back on this leg I started to tire of the mud, the slipping about and the slower pace. I had to keep my eyes on the trail all the time. I felt tired already. I wanted to enjoy today and not get despondent which happened on North Downs Way 100 this year which had me dropping at 76 miles - just because I had listened to my head. There was nothing wrong with me!
|Picture Courtsey Of Stuart March.|
|Picture courtesy of Sunday Odesanya. Off on second leg.|
|North Stoke Aid Station.|
Getting there was some road and then fields along the Thames, after a couple of miles we hit the A4310 and run along it for a bit before going onto the undulating Grims Ditch.
I like this bit of the route. Lots of tree and narrow trail. Lots of small ups and downs. I saw the leaders pass then Tremayne came running past grinning and shouting encouragement. He looked like he was really enjoying himself. A bit later I met up with Luke. I was expecting to see him sooner. But he soon let me know he was not having a good race today. He is carrying an injury and his head is not in it. He lets me know he may drop at 75 and write today off as a training run. I wish him well and carry on. I hope Luke gets past it as he carries on the race. As I get to Nuffield I go off course for 10 minutes and end up on Nuffield Golf Course - map and compass out. I have not gone too far, so I back track and cross a main road and am soon on my way to Swyncombe and aid station 6 at 37.5 miles.
Arriving at Swyncombe, I said hello to Alma another BOSH lady and regular volunteer at Centurion events. I had something to eat and sat for a while and left with Louise who ran off ahead. She looked like she was having a good run, I drank a coffee on the move and caught up with Louise after some time. We were running together with head torches on. I was enjoying this part of the route with the ups and downs and darkness I was feeling good. I love the night running, I get a real feeling of freedom and a connection to the earth and universe. Louise soon ran off ahead as I stopped for another loo break. There were now more people on this part of the course. I soon found myself back at Northstoke and talking to Nick. He was relieved to see me looking better and sounding better on the return leg. He got me a bag of Haribos which I enjoyed over the rest of the race. I ate and drank again and headed off feeling good knowing it was 4 miles to HQ.
Getting back at HQ I said hello to Jacqui who was most helpful and got everything I needed. I wasted some time here, but headed out onto the third leg feeling good. I was confident with the course at this point and knew what was coming. After a bit of road work out of Streatly you start on a bridleway. I put some music on. Not one to normally do this as music can do my head in when running. Coming up a hill I power hiked as best I could making my way to Bury Down and the most exposed part of the course. As I was making my way along Blewbury down I passed Luke and called to him. Like me he had his head phones in. We spoke for some time. He was still not having a good race mentally. He felt that his race was over. I wished him well and hoped it would shift. I felt sad for Luke as I headed off. It's hard to drop. But I also admired him for having got so far. I know what it's like to run when your head is on you. It's not easy. Later on Luke was kind enough to text me and say he had dropped but also though wished me well and to stay strong.
The trip up to Bury Down was straightforward. I had a cup of soup and a slice of bread. It was a little cold but not like last year. I then headed up to Chain Hill. This part of the course is a real pig. And this may have been where I turned my ankle and done some ligament damage. It's technical in the sense there is loads of trodden gully's from horses and tractors. It is just hard work jumping about and trying to run it. It was not as windy as last year and I was feeling really good still. I was keeping an eye out for a monument on my left as I knew once there the next aid station was coming up. I saw the monument and then a sight that made me smile. A mobile disco that was the aid station with lights and music. I was greeted with a 'come on' and a very warm welcome. It lifted my spirits. I sat and drank a coffee, and spoke to a guy who had to
I was soon off again and once past Bury Down aid station I was hit with the same thing as last year at this point of the race. Fatigue! I just had this overwhelming desire to lay down and sleep. My mind was just saying 5 minutes. I had some coffee beans which I ate. And then it started to rain. It was not heavy, but if it kept up I could end up getting cold and wet. So I pulled out my minimus smock and pants and chucked them on. I was very warm and snug and the wind and rain did not get a look in. I fought with fatigue for the next hour. Even the soft wet cross looked like a big soft bed. So inviting. I sat a couple times, but then shook myself. This was the start of a slippery slope if I gave in. So I whacked in the headphones and kept going. Running when I could and walking and hiking at other times. It was at this point I really noticed a pain in my right ankle. It was not too bad and I made a mental note to check once back at HQ.
|How my ankle looked at the end. I had turned and caused some ligament damage.|
Leg four, I knew what was coming which in a way made it easier. The course underfoot at times is very unforgiving. From towpath to compacted trail makes it hard going after 75miles of feet pounding. Coupled with an ankle that kept twitching with pain every so often. I made my way to Withchurch, this part of the course is not too bad, through some fields into some woods and up a slight incline then a tarmac road I soon found myself at Whitchurch. I was feeling good and knew I would be finishing. I just want it to be quicker than last year, I was still running at points, but I am sure I was not running as good as I thought I was. Through more fields and I bumped into Andy Nutall heading back, it gave me a lift to see him and know he was going to make a sub 24. I counted the fields as I went through them so I could break it down on the way back. I then saw Katherine Ganly a GrandSlam lady heading back and looking well fresh. It was great to see her and know she was going to finish a sub 24 also. I headed through a housing estate before getting back on the Thames Path making my way to Reading and the Wokingham Waterside Center. I turned 47 here on TP100 earlier in the year. My feet were hurting as was my ankle and I am sure I was running a bit like a chimp at times to ease the pain.
Getting to Reading was good, a nice Aid Station with lovely ladies who put on a great spread. Brigitte and Lisa and crew thank you. I had some soup and got a lollipop to suck on for the return Journey.
|Wokingham Waterside center. The end of the Line.|