Fairlands Valley Challenge 17th July

Good run through the countryside, good atomsphere and not as far as it seems.

I drove up to Steveange last Sunday for this marathon and it was well worth the 1:20 it took to get there. This race has a real local feel and most people seemed to know eachother, but still happy to chat away with anyone near them.

There were options of 12 miles, 18 miles, 26.2 miles and 50k. The race is run LDWA style where you have written instructions and no marshalss or signs pointing you in the right direction. The directions were easy enough to read and get right, I managed to only add about .4 of a mile so pretty good for me!! By the time you get onto the second half of the race you are starting to pick off the 12 and 18 mile runners so you can be confident you are heading in the right direction. The race is pretty much all run on trails and across fields so made a nice chance from road running. Although you do have to be careful as running on a rutted track you have to give it your full attention or you’ll twist an ankle, this however means not checking the written instructions until on better crowd so you’d better hope your going in the right direction!

i’ve learnt the most important thing when running a race with written instructions is to ignore what everyone else is doing unless it makes sense to you. there is no point following the crowd. After about 5 miles a group of 5 blokes shot off saying they were aiming for sub 3 (this was never going to happen on this course). Anyway that was the last i saw of them and i came second so no idea where they went. Obvioulsy concentrated too much on speed and not enough on reading the route properly.

There are about 5 checkpoints along the route with plenty of sweets and squash and cake to consume should you wish. Once your finished your treated to a freezing cold shower in the leisure centre, as much tea and coffee you can drink, as many banana’s you can eat and to top it off as many burgers from the BBQ you can eat, all free!

overall this is not a race to go for a time on but is a cheap race with a good feel to it and really nice change from road running. This is my second year doing it and i’ll probably be back next year.