Saturday morning, gale force winds, sideways rain and 14 miles of Welsh hillside to run along whilst racing a train. Madness? No, just stage one of my Ride For Michael 100 Mile Challenge at the Race the Train event in Tywyn on the Welsh Coast.
It's quite a simple premise, there is a narrow gauge train and you race it from the station up the valley and back again. Apart from the first and last miles, the whole race is across private farm land. This is not a road plod, more of a fox hunt with bogs, grassy fields and hills to conquer.
I'm not much of a competitive runner, in fact I wouldn't even call myself a runner, but this seemed to me like a very friendly and approachable event. Yes, it was dominated by strange club types ( I guess some people just like wearing the same 1970's vest as everyone else? ) and there were some wannabee expedition runners looking like they were going to set out on the Marathon Des Sables, but other than that it was relaxed and very well organised run.
The first half of the race was up the valley with some mild ups and downs across fields littered with slippery cowpats. This was the easy 7 miles and I should really have run faster. Reaching the half way mark I saw the train coming up fast but I turned before it reached this point. Now came the fun bit and the uphill stretches to climb the other side of the valley. Dropping some SIS energy gel I looked down at my #ride4MB t-shirt ( now soaked through ) and remembered that I wasn't running for myself, dug deep and gave it some welly. I kept the train in sight right up until the bog of doom and that slowed me down enough for the Train to get away.
Then came the gale force wind. Coming out of the woody area and back onto the farm land meant that the full force of a cheeky storm made running forward pretty interesting. At one point I couldn't actually see! Progress was hard and slow, but my legs felt good and I just kept plugging on and held my position in the race.
Unfortunately, the bog, hills and wind hit my time and even after dropping a really fast last mile ( overtaking a lot of people ) I came in just after the 2 hour mark ( the train arrives around 1hr 45 ish ). I can live with that though, I finished running, injury free and smiling and hopefully I have got some more money in for the fund.
Cheesy event picture of me here......
Needless to say if you are reading this, don't think of it as a challenge, think of it as an experience. You can sit on your sofa watching Country File and thinking about the outdoors or you can get out there and be part of it.
Next up... 60 miles on a Road bike at the Ride For Michael Sportive. See you there?
Been up since 5am this morning. Caught the redeye train to London to conduct a round of interviews for work in a mini heatwave of 32 degrees. I just couldn't help but look on jealously as the cyclists of the city made their merry way around. Their speed creating their own air conditioning. Some on Boris Bikes, some on carbon racers, some on battered old mountain bikes.
I didn't get on the Ride for London list this year ( see old posts with some mini-rants about it being another London Marathon where only the big charities can get places ), but I am desperate to get back to the smoke of my youth and once again explore it on two wheels.
It should be no surprise that getting hold of a Steel dream machine from those awesome folk at Genesis has been a mini revelation for me. Lets not get crazy,I'm NOT going to start shaving my legs, but lets just say my mind is not not only full of mountain missions, but also the roads to those mountains.
Why? Well I'm riding for Michael.... are you?