Could the weather forecast be better for that weekend. Rain and high winds!! Plus I had the added bonus of trepidation as I had read numerous race reports on this wonderful event that described mud, mud, mud, mud, MUD and MUD. Oh and a bit of shoe stealing mud on the side! My better half was quite rightly worried that I would either be drowned in mud or blown off a hill in the high winds forecast. I, however, was determined to get there as early as possible and have as much daylight as I could whatever the weather or terrain! Salomon Advanced Skin 12set vest packed – I wasn’t taking any chances!! Etrex programmed with all the grid references supplied on the website. Change of clothes for driving home. I was as ready as I was going to be.
4am wake up call and a quick check of the weather.
Sigh. I’ve packed all my wet weather gear so at least I’m prepared! 5am on the road to Edenbridge, 7am arrive at Edenbridge to get a decent parking spot, 7:15am check into the start and pick up 9 pages of instructions for the 50k…… wait, what!!!! 9 pages!! Blimey! I didn’t know whether to feel comforted or alarmed at the amount of instructions for this route. Quick check of pack, shoes, etrex and cap….. yep…. I’m ready to go. I head out the door to follow the first page of instructions and pretty quickly I’m in a field of mud. Then my first stile.
Stiles/gates/bridges/steps were going to be the side order to the mud supplied for Gatliff50k. The first half of this event had loads of mud on supply. Slippy mud that had me sliding backwards downhill as well as forward downhill which was far more helpful but WAY more scary and secretly LOADS of fun. Soup mud that covered my trail shoes and dried pretty quickly to leave me with constant mud covered shoes. Frankenstein mud that turned my trail shoes into heavy weighted shoes with a platform of mud making me 2-3 inches higher for a while! Shoe stealing mud that tried and tried to take my shoes off and keep them enclosed in thick sticky mud, never to be seen again!
The endless fields of mud, gates, footbridges, stiles, mud, gates, footbridges, stiles seemed to go on forever….
Thankfully up to this point the weather had been very kind. It wasn’t too cold or too warm. The wind was mild at best and the rain? No rain at all.
Just when I thought the fields, stiles, gates, stiles, footbridges, gates, fields, mud would never end the hills started! Be careful what you wish for!! After a few MUDDY hills, some of which had that slippy mud installed on them for that value added fun factor, the instructions mentioned “many” steps. Just when my legs were wanting to go back to those muddy fields!! The following picture was a complete shock when I saw it during my evening download from my GoPro but it summed up those “many steps” perfectly!
Finally when you’ve reached the top you get to enjoy some views.
The hills just didn’t seem to end and the humour was starting to show in the instructions as well. Bat tower goblins and gremlins hiding around corners. I get the feeling they had fun writing these instructions whilst devising the most evil route possible!!
Odd trees that looked like they should have houses built underneath them.
Events like this make me wonder where the hell I am at times. I quite liked finding this sign telling me I’m on the Kent border.
Just before I got to the final checkpoint and after many, many, many slips and slides around on ice skating mud I slipped onto my arse! Where? Right after dismounting from a stile! Sigh. I still had a massive sense of humour though and was giggling like crazy at finally falling over in the mud. Nothing bruised thankfully!
The final checkpoint achieved and the darkness starts to set in. Instructions become more difficult because landmarks are hidden in darkness. Thankfully the Gatliff50k crew had put out beacons to highlight the route as much as they could. Unfortunately I misread the last paragraph and ended up doing the final mile on road through Edenbridge instead of the trail route back to the finish.
10 hours and 15 minutes of extremely muddy and hilly fun. I’m very grateful the weather was kind. I’m even more grateful to Davo’s company for possibly the hilliest 8k of this route. My sense of humour was taking a bashing with those hills and steps after all those muddy fields. Thank you xx. Gatliff checkpoint crews were very kind and helpful – thank you xxx.
My legs were wrecked!! The running was fine, the walking was easy, the sliding/skidding/skating/gliding across mud giving other runners the impression that I was attempting some kind of swan lake on mud has stretched muscles that are just not used to that kind of torture! Both ankles bruised from putting my feet down so many muddy filled holes in fields! Sides aching from laughing so much at my antics!
Sunday evening and Monday had me using my nobbly foot massager to ease my bruised, tendon stretched feet from the Gatliff 50k antics.
Will I be back for more….. I haven’t decided yet. Ask me next year!