31 July 2017
As a fundraiser I've taken part in quite a few challenge events including two, 3-Peaks Challenges and living on £1-a-day for a week. At the same time, I’ve almost taken part in many more events and challenges in the past but alarmingly it takes very little for me to pull-out, change my mind or make some kind of excuse.
On my phone, I have an ever-growing list of events I'd like to do, my bucket list, plus another list of things I should be doing (losing weight, getting fitter etc) but generally very few items come off either of these lists.
However, I "jumped" at getting Young Gloucestershire involved in July’s Cotswold Way Challenge from Action Challenge. I knew of their events beforehand – indeed I've been registered for two of their events in the past but pulled out (!) – so in an act of madness decided to sign up for the 100km to raise money for YG.
I had hoped that by registering it would give me an incentive to start training, something I’m not renowned for. In 2014, I did train for the 20 mile Grizzly and have run a couple of half-marathons but once again this year my training didn’t really take off and I once again pulled out. However, on the day before the event, I made my decision – if I could drop down to the 50km, I would give it a go and unfortunately Action Challenge agreed to this.
So on 2nd July, I drove to Wootton-under-Edge at 6am to take part. I’d taped up (my toes against blisters, my calves against pulls and my knee to prevent me falling to pieces completely) and apprehensively, pulled into the highly impressive registration area. There were loads of people who had walked or run 50km the day before or were completing the full 100km, so I collected my number then thought about my “race tactics”. Would I run 5km then walk 5km or what about run an hour and walk for an hour? The hill out of the start area decided my tactics straight away. I would simply walk the hills then run the flats and downhills and that’s what I did.
The event was extremely well sign-posted in fact there seemed to be an arrow every 10m – I challenge anyone, however tired you are to get lost on this event. The sun was now up and it was getting warm but before I knew it, I’d run through Wootton and was now on the Cotswold Way running past the Tyndale Monument at North Nibley. The view from here is stunning and was worth a quick breather.
Soon after I came into the first food stop. This was stacked with breakfasts, hot food, cereal bars and much more. I opted for the food of athletes – a bacon bap and a large slice of pizza with a slice of water melon.
So I was still running the flats / walking the hills and this saw me ok into Stroud. The climb out of Cainscross through Whiteshill was a real toughie but at the top it was a long downhill to Painswick Rugby Club and another food stop – yippee. I had another bacon bap with some pasta (very nice) and filled my water bottles.
I was looking forward to Painswick as I was due to meet my family at the Beacon and sure enough my wife and two boys were there to meet me which gave me a real boost. I’d never run a marathon before so I had that in my mind and it really helped in getting me to the 90km (40km for me) sign, in Birdlip. I was feeling ok until this point and without this goal in mind I then found the last 10km so, so, so hard. There was a final rest stop in the grounds of the National Star College but by this time I had downed all of my energy gels which took my appetite away. It was then a slow, downhill slog, on the roads which I’m not keen on, onto Shurdington Road and through the footpaths to the finish at Dean’s Close School. Was I glad to get there! They handed me a glass of bubbly (which I downed in one) took a finisher photo and handed me my cherished medal.These Action Challenge events are fantastically organised and I’d highly recommend them but perhaps I’d suggest a little more training than I did. They are fantastic for charities of our size to encourage supporters to take part in and I’ve already got my eyes on the Wye Valley event in August 2018 – that’s along the river so that’ll be flat right?!