Sunday, 26 November 2017

Avebury 9 Mile Cross Country Race


We woke to frost this morning, which meant that my usual the-weather-has-changed-what-on-earth-shall-I-wear? pre-race dilemma ensued. I knew it would be more a case of tortoise than hare today (I haven't run for three weeks- virus), so I plumped for my new Mr Men & Little Miss capris (on the basis that they would cheer everyone up), a thermal top, hat and gloves. M eyed my get-up speculatively. You'll ditch the hat and gloves after a few minutes, he decided. I won't I said back, and I was right, because when we got to Avebury (home to an ancient stone circle that curls round the village which was built inside it and coincidentally my favourite place on Earth) it was bitter cold: windy, icy and generally shivery-making, if gloriously sunny. 



Race HQ was in the sports and social club, a two minute walk from the National Trust car park. Only it didn't feel like two minutes; it felt like a trek through the North Pole. We scurried over the frozen grass of the cricket pitch and dived for the door. It felt like all 175 runners were inside. Everyone was crammed in, unwilling to wait outside where the arctic blast was flaying skin from the bone. 



The warmth in the hall lulled us into a false sense of security as we all queued patiently for the loo before stripping off into race gear. You could tell just by looking who was planning on running fast (shorts, vest tops) and who wasn't (full length lycra, coat, hats, gloves etc).

It was a ten minute wander down through the village to the start and mercifully by then it had started to warm up a bit so when we arrived it was all golden and glowing.



Beautiful houses lined the route...



...accounting for the various no peeing here, men! signs that had been nailed to prominent gate posts...




There were autumn colours on the ground...



And soon, with very little fanfare, the race director wished us all a happy, muddy run, and we were off. 

I soon saw what he meant.



Luckily, I am not afraid of mud. 

Very luckily.




Once we'd got through that, the path opened out onto tracks which made running easier, only by then our trainers were so weighed down with mud it felt like each foot weighed an extra stone. Everyone had a good sense of humour about it though and we were all laughing. No rural running virgins amongst this lot.




However, the respite was short-lived and we were soon back to mud, and tracks that were too narrow to fit both feet.



The pay-off for all this mud was worth it though.....



After the long climb up Windmill Hill we came out on the glorious rolling chalk Downlands of Wiltshire. The sun was shining and the visibility stretched for mile upon mile upon mile...




This landscape fairly vibrates with the past. You can't go more than a few feet without tripping over a burial mound. Many of them haven't been excavated. Just think, inside the mound of earth in the picture below are the bones of people who walked this patch of earth five thousand years ago. Spine-tingling stuff.




By this point I was feeling my three week running hiatus and was walking for a breather. Ish came up beside me and asked if I was OK and we got chatting. Turns out she'd been a spectator and support crew at this race for many years with her husband, and then decided she would have a go, and now here she was, one mile off finishing. Brilliant! She told me my leggings had been keeping her going :o)

Eventually, we came off the Downs back into the valley which of course meant.....




More mud. And about seven stiles. Just what you need at the end of nine miles of challenging running :o). I was running again by this point and finished more or less where I thought I would, not super speedy but not too slow either. For the first one back after a break I'll take that.

When I got back to race HQ, I was greeted with a sight that cross country runners the world over will recognise....



Piles of muddy fell and trail shoes, left outside to preserve the sanity of the hall caretaker.

The warmth inside was once again very welcome, as was the water and cake. I changed into warm kit and collected my beautiful mug which was in place of a medal or technical t-shirt and was made at local pottery White Horse (this was quite a lot of the reason I entered us for the race). Here I am with it near one of the ancient stones that make up the outer circle at Avebury.



Another top run, which I really enjoyed, on a beautiful day in a beautiful, magical landscape in fabulous weather. What more could you want? And when we got home, what else was there to do but have a nice cup of tea in my beautiful new mug :o)



Thank you, Marlborough Running Club!

Hope you've all had a lovely weekend? It's very nice to be back running and competing again. Next up, a monstrously hilly race round the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast. Can't wait. Bring it on :o).

CT.



33 comments:

  1. Absolutely, what more could anyone want. Well done to you, the prize mug is a gorgeous colour. I don't know how you stay upright in the mud though. We walked a fast 10 miles this morning from home through our beautiful local landscape and the surface of our chalk tracks tend to emulsify when wet making them slippy slidey even in my super duper Aigle boots. Still it was glorious out on the Downs in the sunshine and coming back through the woods crunching through the beech leaves was possibly even better. Good to hear you're back on form after the virus and I'll say cheers to you my dear as it's cup of tea time here.

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    1. Trail shoes with thick biting bits of rubber beneath that grab hold of the mud and don't let you wobble too much :o) Nice to hear from you, Sarah. Hope all is well x

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  2. Your running capris are fun! I am glad you recovered from your virus and were able to do this run, it looks like another fun one - if a bit on the muddy side. Have a lovely week x

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    1. It was fab, perfect weather through glorious countryside x

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  3. You got a job lot of tights? I had to wear two pairs for training run the wind was so cold in Austria this morning. Down in Italy they had thunder and lightning for the Florence marathon. I had 3 friends running. One of them got under 3 hours. My days of churning through the mud are behind me :)

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    1. :o)

      Yikes- sounds even colder than where we were!

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  4. If anyone was down after seeing your running leggings then I doubt they could be cheered by anything. Muddy is the word, but the beauty of the late Autumn day like that more than makes up for it, and what a lovely gesture, to give a mug instead of 'yet another' medal or shirt! It's a little beauty too.

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  5. I had to giggle at those signs!
    Such a lovely bright day for the race and I would definitely run through mud for a mug like that, it's lovely. X

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    1. It's so lovely, I love White Horse Pottery creations x

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  6. I have always been interested in Avebury. A village that is inside a stone circle. I am impressed. I want to live there or Gayle, North Yorkshire. Me they have a town named after me ! only in my dreams wahahahahahah
    Anyways back to you, thank you for reminding me about Avebury.
    Also how on earth can you run in the mud without sticking in it and losing your shoes. You are so lucky to have such a great mug instead of a shirt (nice) or metal (again nice) what a great run.

    cheers, parsnip and mandibles

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    1. It is an amazing place, Avebury.

      The secret to running through mud is trail shoes and butterfly ties (a sort-of looping knot that holds the shoes and laces secure).

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  7. Love your bright colourful bottoms, and after a great run, a mug instead of a medal, sounds a good day all round for you.

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  8. Wonderful to have something you can use and enjoy instead the usual prizes.

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  9. What a lovely spot to run. Avebury is a favourite place, I haven't been there for ages, you have reminded me how much I like it. The mug is gorgeous, and very well deserved. Well done you. CJ xx

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  10. Brilliant leggings! I love Avebury too and well remember my first trip there - it was a foggy day and the standing stones loomed eerily out of the mist. Spooky! Well done on your run - well worth it for that glorious mug. xx

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  11. Glad you are feeling better and under way once again. Can’t think of a nicer spot to run, particularly in those leggings. Pb on my last park run but still 31:13. Way to go to get under 30. Now laid up with a lung. Hey ho! B x

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    1. You'll get there. Just keep on doing what you have been doing. Rotten luck about being poorly, hope you feel better soon x

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  12. Oh my goodness, so much mud! Well done. x

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  13. Lovely running pants...made me laugh. Great photos - what a superb place to run. You look toasty warm in your coat and your mug is lovely (the one you are holding) and your face is pretty lovely too....!!!!
    See you soon, Claudia already there enjoying a great time with my sister in Surrey and on her way today to see mum in Hampshire.
    Love xxx

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    1. I thought you'd like the leggings :o)
      Glad Claudia having a good time.... not long now, eh? Will email xx

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  14. Hey CT,
    I think I would have enjoyed this run very much!! And I love your leggings. So cool. Mine are boring black. Very uninspiring. Nice touch with the mug in lieu of a medal too. I think my comments on recent posts of yours (and other bloggers) haven't been registering, which is a pain. Suffice to say, I've been reading and commenting in earnest, and looking forward to your next running t6irumph. My sister in law is trying to get me to run a half marathon next year. I'm not so sure, but we'll see.
    Have a lovely week.
    Leanne xx

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    1. Hello lovely, I haven’t been getting your comments, thought perhaps you were having a break, so it’s lovely to have you back. I’ve really enjoyed the half marathons I’ve done this year, I think you might too xx

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  15. That does look such a muddy run, it must have considerably slowed you all down. Well done for getting through! It's lovely that you have a mug to remember one of your special places. Sarah x

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    1. I think all the times were slow but what a great race xx

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  16. Another gorgeous race, well done! Ahh, you make me miss the West Country though. A magical place. Glad to hear you are feeling better me dear. Xx

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    1. Helloo! Yes it was huge fun! Thanks for your email xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x