Yep, you read the title correctly, blogosphere and avid readers, I ran 25 miles over a cross-country course this weekend. In aid of Hope 24, a childrens’ charity, an 8-person team from CF Plymouth made our way down to Newnham Park, Plymouth on Saturday at 1200 for a 24 hr event.
The event is a relay race of a 5 mile loop, incorporating 2 brutal 0.75 mile + 1.5 mile steep ascents and equally bruising descents. Each member would also get to run in the pitch black of night with just a head torch to guide them too!
We rocked up with our tents, collected our race numbers and the leaders of the pack decided in what order we would progress. Luckily, I was up third which gave me enough time to get my first lap cracked, head home to loop after the mini-mes and then get back in time for my second lap.
After having not really run any significant distance since the Rock Solid Race early last year, I knew this would be a bit brutal but we were only expecting to do 3 laps each, perhaps 4. Being CrossFitters, there wasn’t much hope that were would put on much of a show. Well, the times were set pretty swiftly for the first two, especially given the nature of the course. My first lap then went exceptionally well with a time of 38:09 but I did wonder if I’d be able to pull it off again. On returning from child-duties, I then clocked a 39:56 despite them having lengthened the course in my absence (by 160m because some tape had fallen down previously and we’d all gone the wrong way). Wow….still doing well. I must admit that I was in some pain at that point though and had to put myself in the trusted hands of our resident sports masseuse before trying to get my head down for a few hours.
After what felt like about 3 minutes, the tent was shaken and CFP’s head honcho was telling me to get ready for my third lap. Looking at my watch, even at that time of night, I could see that this wouldn’t be my last. However, I had a stretch for 30 mins, put my iPod on at 170 bpm (thanks Podrunner!) and trekked off. Sure enough, in the pitch dark and mist, it was a slower time but I’m no runner and was very pleased with my 42:43 as I crossed the line at about 3am and handed over the wrist-band.
Rising from my pit at a more sociable hour, I was wolfing down a well-deserved bacon/sausage/egg bap when I was informed that 1 of our throng was injured and another wasn’t turning up. Knowing full well that I wasn’t about to get my 6 hours between laps, I started warming up. This time though, it was more than a little sore. Quads mainly, but hamstrings, calves and of course the achilles. Luckily, the night before, the sports masseuse had applied some K-Tape and I’d then donned the compression socks and compression trousers – they worked a goddamn treat!! I positively raced around the course in a not-to-be-sniffed-at 41:54 and danced across the line all pleased with myself. Only to be told immediately that yes, there would be another lap to go.
Knowing that final lap was ahead gave me no joy whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, the course was extremely challenging and interesting but I’d had enough by then. Having spent 4 laps listening to 175 / 170 bpm tracks, I decided to just chill the hell out and listen to a bit of ACDC, Muse and Rage Against the Machine….with some Metallica for good measure. With nothing whatsoever left in the legs, I crawled around in 45:11 and did a somersault as I crossed the line, much to the amusement of the crowd. I was spent.
Having been asked to take part by the CF Plymouth team, I do feel very proud of what we achieved. Not being runners, our team of 8 ended up coming 3rd of 20 8-man teams overall. There were some very professional running outfits in there and we certainly gave a good account of ourselves. Sure, it’ll take a while for the body to recover from it, especially given no specific training for it, but it was so much fun. CF Plymouth are a positively outstanding crew and it’s been such a lift being a part of this team since joining last year.
Would I do this again? Yep, no problem. I love these challenges, you know I do. What made this one unique though was that I was expecting 15 miles, then 20 but then ended up cracking a full 25 mile cross country race, with the fastest lap times of the CFP team, at the usually flabby and downhill age of 35 (*coff* very soon to be 36!).