A scenic one lap route across the Wiltshire Downs, along the Wansdyke &
through Avebury Stone Circle.
through Avebury Stone Circle.
A gentle off road course, crossing fields and rolling hills, a couple of hill climbs (one on muddy tracks up to Cherhill Monument) , 'Dyke' ridge running (quite windy and exposed), a couple of miles alongside a canal and a 'white horse' created a nice morning out running in the Wiltshire countryside.
A fast course (not for me !!) shown by the first four runners (mostly vasque team) this year coming home inside the course record, the weather helped as the rain held off for most of the run and although 'blowy' on top of the Dyke and Cherhill Monument, a lot of the run was protected and the prevailing wind was behind most of the way home.
For me, a tale of two halves - The first 15 miles to CP4 was very pleasant. A nice run through West Woods up onto the Wansdyke path with great views (from here you got a great sense of rolling deep green countryside) and down along the canal up to bridge 139. I was with a group of 5 runners (including Tim - another Grand Slammer), feeling good just ticking over enjoying the warm weather, conversation and general scenery.
Then, we started up Quakers Walk Path (after grabbing a few jelly babies), through Roundway and began the long walk up to Leipzig Plantation. This hill - done me in !! - I went from feeling good to feeling 'old and jaded' in about 20 minutes. I even had a 'brain freeze' coming out of the woods going the wrong way down the next path (considering the right route was the size of a motorway, it was quite a feat to go wrong here - note for other runners - never follow the guy in the orange wig !!).
Not sure what happened really, I had been eating and drinking but somewhere going up the hill my head switched to reminding me of the 61 miles I had done seven days earlier and my body seemed to give up - feet and ankles hurt, could not seem to run more than 50 yards - then the rain came down which was the last straw and I fell into a walk / slow jog - pathetic really !! I 'trudged' up the last climb of the day to Cherhill Monument with the wind in my face and passed the famous 'white horse' landmark (a chalk horse in the side of Cherhill Hill), where we joined the runners from the 20 mile route, heading for home.
It took me about an hour to recover and it was not until I got to the otherside of Avebury that I began to run again with any consistency - could have been the cup of sweet tea I had or the 5 minute chat I had with Fred ( a guy I met last year doing the coastal marathon series) reminiscing on what seemed easier times !!
After Avebury the route is fast and flat(ish) and with the wind behind us you could smell the finish line (maybe this was the real reason I picked up again), and it felt good to be able to keep running again.
I finished feeling disappointed in my performance, (where was my 'grit and determination') others had been at the Fellsman last weekend and managed to keep going, maybe I need to find a way to recover more quickly (I definitely wont be doing a hard training session two days before the next event- in hindsight - a stupid idea) or just get fitter !!.
It is a nice gentle course, with easy navigation and good scenery. Well worth a run out on a warm summers day.