Written by Mick Farrar - https://runningoffthemadness.blogspot.fr
|Keeping warm before the start with Richard Corp.|
Richard's partner, Emma Flexon, was crewing him for the day and I was able to put my drop bag in the car to save carrying extra kit. Just seeing a friendly face around the course can make a massive difference and Emma was able to map read her way to junctions for some of the longer sections between check points. Always smiling, watching for tell-tale signs of fatigue and ready to supply whatever was needed. Thank you, Emma.
|Climbing up away from Draycott with Nyland Hill in the middle distance.|
|Looking back on the route and Cheddar reservoir.|
The temperature really started to rise as we eventually closed the loop and crossed back over the M5 at 18.5 miles, a running time of 3 hours 40 mins. The pace was slower than we had wanted but we also knew that there were a few BIG hills climbs to come. The field had already spread, Richard and I checked in with some marshals at Whitley Head and there was no-one in front or behind us at this point. At this point we weren't lost.
|Butcombe Trail marker (centre)|
We worked our way east, trying to follow the course diversions until we passed through Sandford Batch, and then climb 256ft at 21 miles to Sandford Hill, pushing on to Star. We had been running 5 hours now, still had the two biggest climbs in front of us and it was getting warmer but our spirits were high and neither of us had any niggles or injuries to worry about.
From Star we went west to Rowberrow and stopped briefly at checkpoint 3 at the Swan pub where Emma had procured us some ice-pops!!! Then, heading north and up to Dolebury Hill Fort and onwards, 369 ft upwards we climbed to Beacon Batch at 28 miles. The highest point on the route. Along the way we had picked up another runner, Dave, who had ran the Thames Path earlier in the year so I spent a lot of time extracting race information from him.
|The usual spread of food for the runners at the checkpoints.|
The route contains every type of running environment. We encountered muddy tracks, technical downhill trails with roots and rocks, baked footpaths, knee high gorse and heather, and enough road to warrant a pair of shoes with some cushioning.
|View near Hinton Blewett overlooking the Chew Valley Lake.|
Emma was turning up on road sides between checkpoints, some of which were 8 and 9 miles apart and normally would not be an issue but in the heat, the extra chilled water and food were a complete Godsend.
|Woodland route markers.|
Just before entering the village of Priddy we managed to miss the trail marker. The path was waterlogged, muddy and very narrow, and with the fading light and tiredness, we missed the sign and with the help of the GPX we had to loop over half a mile to get back to the road. By now we had been running for close to 12 hours and the stopping and starting began to affect my core temperature. Richard told me to run ahead to the next checkpoint in the village of Priddy, my legs were not tired but I knew I had to keep moving.
I reached the checkpoint 6, quickly ate and topped up my bottles in time to see Richard and Dave come down the lane as I left with a local runner, Ivan Batchelor. He led us out onto the fields again as the daylight slipped away and it wasn't long before we spotted some more head torches in front. With a mile to go, we caught up.
There was a last climb before the steep descent back into Draycott and the group of 4 runners in front, and Ivan started to walk up the rocky incline. I decided just to go and ran up and away from the others, using my GPX as a guide. In daylight, the final descent would be fun, but hurtling down in the dark with only 200 lumens to light your way can be a little more sobering. Down and down until at last there was a gate and then a track, that became a road. I could hear the shouts now as people and torches came into sight and finally I crossed the finish line. Officially I was 28th of 37 finishers (there had been 9 DNF's) and it had taken me 13:24, longer than I had hoped but I was still alive so that was nice. With all the diversions and getting lost I had run 50 miles.
After being presented with my medal I quickly changed into warmer clothing, waiting for a while for Richard to finish. But the cold and hunger were getting to me and I thanked Emma once more before heading back to Wiltshire.
Would I do it again? Big maybe, loved the scenery.
|A trip around the Butcombe Trail|
|Course elevation and temperature (blue)|
Kit & Fuel: Altra Lone Peak 3 shoes, injinji toe socks and Dirty Girl gaiters. I put my new Salomon Adv Skin3 12 set to a real test and it turned out to be the best purchase I have made to date. I mainly fuelled on Tailwind, Torq gels and a few Cliff bars.