Well for the 3rd year running I thought I’d have a go at the Cheltenham Circular Challenge again.
Why? Because I really like the event, it has got it all, hills, spectacular scenery and you can really run it anyway you want, fast, slow, leisurely or even do a bit of running and walking if you want. No time pressure unless of course you want to set or beat a certain time.
I’d joined up with James Wilkinson (a CCC virgin) and Anthony Rossi and we started at about 0745.
Even with good, grippy off-road shoes, it was particularly slippy this year and I think I’d gone no further than about 4 miles before doing a spectacular barrow-roll and getting covered from head to foot in mud. No damage done so after a quick brush down, back on with it.
Just before the A40 Barlands checkpoint I met up with a gaggle of Almosts including Karen Galpin and Eddie Munro and after a quick chat and water stop off we went again up Capel Lane and up the steep hill onto the Cotswold Way.
James and Anthony had decided by this point that they wanted to crack on, so off they went ahead like a pair of scalded cats.
The incredibly steep path and steps through the woods felt harder than ever this year, the only bit of the entire 26 miles that I had to walk.
Then it was nice and fast down to Severn Springs. Along the way I joined up with Eddie Munro and we decided that we would run together “at the speed of plod” as I like to say and see how we both felt by the time we got to Brizen Field. I had the perfect excuse to slope off there if I wanted to (very close to home) but Eddie and I decided we would go the whole hog. Eddie had never done it before, and I knew the route well.
After a leisurely pit-stop at Brizen where I was greeted by my wife, with drinks, biscuits and ibuprofen, we set off towards Shurdington church. And then it started raining, big fat rain in fact, the type that soaks you to the skin in seconds. Looking at each other and thinking, why did we decide to continue, Eddie and I got our heads down and soldiered on through the fields and meadows.
We were greeted by the vicar and his wife at Badgeworth Church with cake, which was a bonus and really lifted our spirits after the soaking we had just endured.
At Swindon Village (23 miles or so in) both Eddie and I came the unanimous agreement that we were both knackered, with nothing left in the tank.
We were again greeted with biscuits and cake by some friendly Rotarians and I said, come on Eddie, just one last big push!
By the time we got to the last big hill up to the racecource we discovered the muddiest, gloopiest, stickiest, slippery-ist (if that is a word) type of mud ever invented. It was like the Somme. We got up to the top and had a breather, to be passed by Matthew Hampton who looked as fresh as a daisy!
Mustering the last bits of energy and focus, we ran down to the Evesham road, crossed over and back to the racecourse, where I managed to find 20 seconds of turbo-boost to sprint to the finish line.
What a great event and I’ll be back again for more next year!