It was a nice early start to get down to Chiddingly for the race with overcast but warm conditions it was looking like it was going to be a warm one later on into the race. With a quick briefing from the race director warning us of a few pregnant cows to watch out for and make sure we follow the markings we were walked down the road to the start.
With the gun we set off, trying to remember to take it easy as there was a long way to go. I managed to get into the front group of 6 runners who were doing a good solid pace, i knew that this was going to be a bit quick for the full distance but i stuck with it as it made navigation easier. I started to lose contact with the group as we headed over the many stiles on the first leg. The scenery was amazing running through waist high corn rows following the Weald Way Footpath. As i exited a field around 13km in I landed funny off the stile and felt my knee twist, great thats all i needed. Gritting my teeth i carried on, with pain going up the hills and taking it easier on the downs not to impact the knee too much my pace started to drop off.
As I approached the halfway mark, the climbs became steeper and muddier as we entered the Ashdown Forest. Again the views were amazing but I wasn't really in a position to remember them. As we changed onto the Vanguard Way for the return leg I was met by a steep descent into a valley and a clear view of the hill to climb out of the valley. Reduced to a walk on the uneven down and the legs burning on the slow climb up, i rang Steph to let her know i was approaching the 30km mark and the 3rd feed station, getting reassurance and confidence to carry on.
After a longer break at the aid station i carried on thinking I just need to get to the 4th aid station at 40km and then its the home straight. I have to say that was the longest 10k ive ever known, once at the feed station i sat on the floor trying to cool my body down and getting some much needed fluids in. One of the volunteers suggested i needed to think on the last bit as just 2 Park Runs, all well and good but they felt like marathons currently.
Setting off on the final leg i was determined to finish, so set about running 2.5k and walking 0.5k to recover and repeating that. Finally coming in sight of the village church in the distance gave me the boost to carry on knowing the end was literally in sight. Finally off the trails and onto the road down and up the final hill to the cheers from Steph and the claps from the crowds of spectators and across the line, into a ruined heap on the floor.
Finishing the 50km in 5:22:37 and 47th out of 178 finishers. Having not been able to get the training in and only 2 weeks out of a viral infection i cannot complain with the time. Also being only my 3rd ever marathon i was thrilled to have finished especially as at 30k i thought i was going to have to withdraw.
It was one of the hardest, mentally and phyisically, things i have ever done and that includes Ironman, it felt such an achievement to cross the line, knowing i am a complete nutter with a death wish. Swearing down that I would never do another thing like that. However, the day after im already looking for the next challenge