Race report – Imber Ultra

The things we do for a weekend away, writes Debbie Marshall.

Lesley and I decided as a training run to do the Imber Ultra and managed to persuade Lucy it would be fun.
The route was 33 miles of self navigation but there were maps to print off and signs to follow, how hard could that be?
Then the weather forecast came in. 14MPH winds and rain, lots of rain. Watching it pour down the windows as we had breakfast did add to the nerves for me. Even the race director said he almost didn’t turn up (I think he was joking but he was grateful to see so many people). At least we were ahead of the 40 that decided today was a duvet day.
The race was started by the local Mayor and around the field we set off.
Ten paces in and our feet were already wet, only 33 miles to go!

Little did we know that a little water underfoot was the least of our worries. The dominant element was mud, so much mud, the “We’ve never had conditions so bad” mud. All you could do was laugh and let Runner’s Tourettes kick in. The first 10 miles were “Looe” hilly, muddy and beautifully scenic.
The only distractions to the views were the red flags and the warnings about being on a firing range. With Lucy’s heroic navigational skills we followed the route past a mock German village complete with tanks, although they had already made their presence known by the massive undulating divots in the ground. By the time we had got to the check point, Lucy and I made the tough decision that we couldn’t wait for Lesley as she was a little way behind us.
So on we plodded, enjoying the pockets of sunshine and trying to get to certain points before the wind and rain came in. We were warned that even on a good day there were parts on the route that were quite exposed to the elements so we were slightly prepared but pushing on at times even walking was a fight .The phrase “hood up, head down, crack on” became our motto. The lowest point came when we saw the sweep runner and bike and realised that Lesley had dropped out. Some days just don’t go the way you want them to, but it made us more determined to finish.
Onwards we went occasionally escorted by quad bikes, motor bikes and land rovers enjoying the “Peppa Pig weather.”
As we counted down the checkpoints manned by the amazing local Rotary club, the route finally started to look more familiar as we retraced our slippy steps back through the woods.

With half-a-mile to go we started to relax and just run through all the puddles. Then it happened. The Vicar of Dibley re-enactment. I fell so far into the water that I got my hair wet. Lucy really tried hard not to laugh at me, I cant say I would have been so kind to her!
Our last few corners were met with enthusiastic supporters who had braved the elements to see us in. The loudest support came from Lesley and it was lovely to see her smiling face.
A great weekend, and I would definitely recommend it.

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