Saturday, 24 January 2015

New Year Frolic marathon

A truly niche marathon.  Twenty one of us started from the Generals Arms in Black Notley on a cold and windy Sunday morning.  We were issued with a route card with four grid references and after a brief introduction of "expect the unexpected" we were off.

This was an entirely new area to me and as a group we quickly found the first checkpoint - a clipper on the back of an information board.  I didn't hang about, already having chosen by route to the second clipper.  The third one was in a car park at Danbury common, reached by a pleasant wooded trail.  Here my route card was taken away and I was told NOT to visit the last grid reference.  Instead I was given a new route card for the next stage.  It took me a minute to determine which direction to set off in, and I was soon heading along an icy road.

This was the largest loop of the day, heading across bitterly cold fields, slopping through mud, but strangely enjoying it all.  I forgot to refill my water bottle at the first pub checkpoint and was thirsty on returning to the Generals Arms at about 12 miles.  Here I received another route card, covering an easy to navigate 8 miles back to Danbury common.  I added a slight detour to avoid a field of horses but otherwise kept a steady pace, enjoying this section and running entirely on my own.  I thought I was in second place at this point.  At Danbury, on reading my next route card I was disappointed to see it was a reverse of the previous eight miles!  I passed one oncoming runner after maybe fifteen minutes, but saw no other runners until a mile from the end of this section - surprising as these two were almost two hours behind me at the point I passed them.

Back at the pub I picked up my final route card for the last section, only five miles but with some steep hills which wore me down.  I was glad to finish this one and get out of the cold and into the pub for a meal.

Of the 21 starters, only 10 finished and I was in second place in 4:57:51, a long way behind the leader in 4:19 (he also won last week's Braintree Boggle).

Here is the route for marathon #73: