5th May 2012
Brockenhurst College, New Forest
30 miles *(32.5 if you are rubbish at navigating!)
Registration was at Brockenhurst College in the New Forest and we arrived with plenty of time to park the car, drop our bags in the support van and hear Neil (from XNRG) give his Day 1 brief. He told us, amongst other things, to keep a good eye on the maps provided and informed us that there would be a detour mid way as the route was flooded. We clearly weren’t listening though and this would come back to haunt us!
The start was split into 3 waves; 9am for walkers, 10am for runners and 11am for elite. As we lined up at 10am I felt ok, everyone seemed quite relaxed and the weather looked to be holding out. We set off at a steady but decent pace and the field spread out quite quickly. After a few miles I realised we were going to be in for a muddy ride, it was extremely boggy in some places and the race was almost entirely on trails around Brockenhurst, Burley and Ringwood. My favourite moment of the weekend was at about mile 8 where I had a decent pace on, took a big stride and realised my trainer had remained in the bog behind me. Luckily Kris saved my shoe as I hopped around in the mud. Moments later though a pang of doubt hit me as I saw runners heading towards us. As I feared, we were lost and despite 3 people having garmins we couldn’t seem to work out how to get back on the trail. A few barbed wire fences climbed and one detour through a field full of horses got us back on track but we had added about 2 extra miles and a fair chunk of time as we searched for the path.
After a bit of a moan at checkpoint 1, we continued on and I felt ok. However not much later, Kris and I found ourselves alone with no course markings. We had followed the garmin so couldn’t understand what had happened. As the mud got worse and eventually our feet were submerged in water we realised that we had missed the detour, gotten lost and then found ourselves in the flooded part of the route! Once back on track and finding myself overtaking the same people for the second and time, I got really really cross (and gave Kris a very hard time, sorry!)
The final checkpoint was on the outskirts of Burley where I used to live and knowing the area gave me a bit of a boost. Kris and I started to pick up the pace a little. The first elite man overtook us at about mile 21 which spurred us on a bit more. Once we passed under the A31 I knew we were close to our finish point for the day, Moyles Court School just north of Ringwood. The last few miles were a bit painful but ok and I was really pleased to come in with a time of 5hr26.
Being some of the first people to arrive (due to the elites starting an hour later) we found a decent spot against the wall in the school sports hall to set up our sleeping bags and lay out our kit for the next day. It was a good atmosphere although quite a few people had gotten lost enroute and comparing war stories seemed to be the talk of the evening. Dinner was served in the school canteen (and Neil had kindly organised a vegan option for us). We also had the opportunity to attend a very informative lecture from nutritionist Liz – whose husband Al works with 9Bar (they must of given out about 50 boxes of them – AMAZING!), listen to some information about Age UK which is the charity XNRG are supporting this year and win some wigwam socks from Phil (of Ed and Phil fame). I was really pleased to win a pair as my feet had been completely destroyed by my sodden shoes and socks – I had a blister on every toe and between some of them too.