Another weekend of back to back races beckoned and something bad happened.
We had to say goodbye to Ernie. He only came into our lives under a year ago. We gave him food, warm shelter, a cushion and laps to sit and dribble on, regular brushes and all the love we could. In return, he gave us love and lots of fun.
Making the decision that he was too ill to carry on was tough and having him peacefully die on my knee was equally as hard.
There’s a bit of a hole in our lives now. Bye bye mate.
A weekend away was really what the doctor ordered.
We started with the inaugural 13 The Hard Way. This is a trail half marathon organised by Sussex Trail Events (one of my 2 favourite race organisers) on our doorstep.
As you can see from the profile below, it’s pretty easy to guess where the name comes from. This definitely rivals the 3 Forts Half for the crown of toughest half in the county. 104 metres of climb in the first kilometre.
After the first climb, it is up and down all the way to the 7km point along the wonderful South Downs Way.
Then it is downhill all the way to the turn around point, apart from a ‘little bump’ when you are almost at the turn around aid station.
The climb back out when you start to retrace your steps is brutal. It is about 4km in total and really tough in the heat.
Even when you get back up on to the main wide area of the South Downs Way, you’re not out of the woods. It’s still up and down all the way back to the steep final downhill section (which I walked).
As with all Sussex Trail Events races, this is welcoming, low key and a great way to spend the morning. I know this part of the the SDW like the back of my hand, so nothing was a surprise.
I heard one lady saying that it was her first ever trail run. She was either very brave or didn’t read the race description properly.
Burgess Hill Runners made up a considerable portion of the field, including a couple of first time half marathon runners. It’s very impressive to take this one on for your first half marathon.
As soon as we finished, it was back home, quick shower and the surprisingly short drive over to Dorset for the 12 hour East Farm Frolic from White Star Running (the other of my favourite 2 race organisers), which was due to start at 8am the following day.
BHR had 5 teams of 4 plus a large amount of small people in tow. We had a large group of campers and once set up, it was time to pop to the main race tent for some hydration.
The race was laps of 6km-ish and the idea was to do as many as you could in 12 hours as a team of 4, 3, 2 or as a solo runner.
The course was up and down, through some woods, over some fields, down some tracks, up some tracks and back to the start line.
With the usual sense of WSR fun, the baton was a squeaky rubber chicken, which had to be carried at all times. And there was a chicken baton change over point.
I managed 6 laps, which was just over 37km. Another lap would have made a marathon, but the exertions of the past few weeks, the beer from the night before and the temptation of clean clothes, a shower (the best portable shower in history), a beer and a chat got the better of me and I stopped.
I was lucky enough to do the last lap with Gary, one of the most improved runners in the club and a top chap.
The winner did 69 miles. Amazing. Almost as incredible is the medal. Wow.
What summed up the weekend and really shows what White Star is all about was Monday morning and the Folic Chaos race.
We had never done a Chaos Race, as we have always left after the race. The Chaos Race is a bit of fun for everyone over a short distance and any profits go to charity. The proceeds of this race went to MNDA. It is £6 to enter and the medal (yes, there’s a medal) was tremendous.
We gathered for a dance warm up, then we removed our shoes, put one in each of the large refuge sacks at the finish line and watched them disappear off up the hills where they were deposited on the floor in 2 different places.
The idea is that you run up the hill, find your shoes, run back down the hill and complete a 4km circuit, including a visit to the Love Station, before heading back to the start and collecting your lovely medal.
We walked a lot of it, nursing a bit of a hangover, and giving the kids a helping hand up the hills. This was probably my favourite part of the weekend. The kids got a chance to experience a race and an aid station and they got a great medal.
A huge thank you to Rob (at the Frolic) and Jon and John (at the Hard Half) for the great photos. Thank you for Jay, Chris, Danny and Steve at STE and Andy & his team at WSR. If Carling made weekends and all that.
Now for 3 weeks of taper before my biggest test so far, the Chiltern Wonderland 50.
Take care, Neil.