The Accidental Marathon Runner

Marathon man.jpg

He just kind of bumbled into it…

I didn’t mean to run a marathon.

Let me explain.

Today I ran the the Five Valleys Walk – a 21.5 mile route around the beautiful hills of Stroud, organised by the Meningitis Trust, based in the town, and now in it’s 30th year. It has become a very successful fundraiser and a great community event with many families and groups of friends taking part. I’ve lived in Stroud nearly 6 years so I thought it was about time I hauled my bardic butt around it. I decided two days before – having only just got from a two thousand mile bike ride (900cc, not pedal-power – I’m not that much of a masochist) to the West Highlands – feeling like I wanted to re-connect with the Stroud landscape having been away for so (relatively) long, and needing to get back into running. Having done the Stroud Trail Half Marathon earlier in the year with my running buddy Brendan I figured I could do it – though that was ‘only’ 15 miles. We ran the Brecon Beacons Trail route earlier in the summer (19 miles!) and that did me in – but somehow I found today’s 21 miles easier – maybe because it was on familiar ground – I’d run alot of the sections before – and because the climb, though rigorous – was not so insane…

I set off around 9am, heading to Haresfield Beacon where I parked my bike. The first checkpoint was down at Standish Woods, so I did a mile warm-up run down to it. The sun broke through the canopy of the trees as I ran along the Cotswold Way – and I knew I had chosen a good thing to do. It was great to be out, enjoying the glorious late Autumn sunshine. I made it to the first checkpoint  – where they offered free water and cake and fruit. I got my map stickered – a satisfying way to show progress. I made good time down to Wycliffe-  the second checkpoint – but leaving there I found an absence of signage, and ended up missing the turning at Ebley for Dudbridge – running all the way to Stroud, then along the A46 until I could join the cycle path to Nailsworth. This added a couple of miles to the route, as though I wasn’t doing enough already! More fool me for not reading the directions, I guess, but that’s kind of hard to do when you’re running along. The map handed out had no detail on it, and they hadn’t emphasized the need to turn it over and read what it says on the back! I guess I was counting on regular and clear signage, but that seems to be more the norm for trail races. And this was a walk, after all. So my bad – but it made me end up doing practically a marathon (21.5 + 3 extra ….if someone says that’s not 26 miles & 385 yards, I have a smelly, muddy trainer to throw at them) which is a bit crazy when you haven’t trained or psyched yourself up for it!

I just kind of bumbled into it …

But I think it’s good for the soul to do crazy things now and then! I didn’t pass any other runners doing the route funnily enough. I past alot of walkers. Some seemed impressed and wished well, but some were clearly baffled (one chap guffawed, ‘Well, I don’t see the point in that!’) Sometimes you just have to do things just because you get the urge, because they’re fun, or because they’re a bit demented. This was a combination of all three (and also, importantly, for a good cause).

The last bit was a bit of a slog, inevitably. The energy snacks seemed no longer to take effect as I dragged my weary carcase up to Standish Woods. As a bit of mis-spelled graffiti said on a bridge along the Stroudwater Canal: ‘All hop is gone.’ The brain told my legs to move, but they mutinied until we got a more reasonable section (ie not vertical).

When I got the Standish again after completing the full circuit I treated myself to an ice-cream. I felt I deserved it!

Help me raise funds for Meningitis Trust by donating here…

https://fivevalleyswalk2016.everydayhero.com/uk/kevan-manwaring

 

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One thought on “The Accidental Marathon Runner

  1. Nimue Brown

    A bit of craziness is decidedly good for the soul! I’m not sure how the Ebley stretch is supposed to work, (I think you go down the canal and through to the cycle path at Ebley Mill, but its usually a mud bath there) but, straight down the cycle path or the canal and round to the tunnel by Sainsburys will do it – its all about the same distance, and less squelchy.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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