The course itself is a challenging route on muddy terrain, with both single file and hard stone tracks underfoot. It also has it's fair share of hills and features the 'Ditch of Doom' - which if I'm being honest, was the main draw for me entering the race.
397 runners braved the cold conditions and stood at the start line ready for the 11am start.
I'd met up with a few friends from club beforehand and took advantage of the later start time by doing parkrun - also at Cannock Chase - prior to the race. The sensible head soon disappeared and I found myself racing round the course in 22:49 - one of my quickest parkrun times for a while, finishing in 43rd place out of 492 starters and was 8th in my age category. I'll never learn!
|Sheltering from the rain waiting for the off at parkrun|
Changed, rested (?) and ready to go, we were sent on our way from the starting pen bang on 11am. Weaving our way through the pack, I was running with Colin and we soon settled into a comfortable, chatty pace and enjoyed the forestry trails.
The route itself was challenging yet enjoyable. Wet, muddy trails underfoot and low hanging branches made for an interesting route and with over 1000 ft of climb, helped thin the crowds out enough so you weren't too bunched together and could concentrate on the trail in front of you.
By mile 6 we reached the well advertised 'Ditch of Doom' which was definitely the highlight of my race. Covering approximately 20 metres, you find yourself wading though waist-high water whilst sinking into the mud underfoot. It's cold. It's tiring on the legs. It's great fun!
The final 3 miles - yes, the advertised Dirty Dozen worked out at just shy of 9 miles, seemed to keep going on-and-on but there were few complaints from me as I was enjoying myself too much! More hills, more mud and more puddles greeted us until I crossed the finish line, with Colin in 1:37.
We were greeted with a medal, t-shirt, a bottle of water, sweets and crisps at the finish line - all for £17.50.
Next up, the Imber Ultramarathon...