Today marked the final race in the Foxtrails Winter Series…
It was a repeat of Race #1, 13km of mud, trail, sand and trees. Oh and rain. Lots and lots of rain.
Having run the route just the day before it was a very different course that presented itself today. The rain had been falling since the previous evening and solid trails became slippery tracks with a bucket load of muddy puddles thrown in.
As always registration was quick and easy, the only real thing to consider was just how many layers to wear in order to stay warm. I overheat ALL the time and it really distracts me but the rain was coming down hard this morning and it was cold. In the end I went for the bare minimum – shorts, a long sleeved base layer and a t shirt.
The race started just after the advertised time of 9:15am and after a quick race briefing and a warm up from the guys at Fitness Soul we were off. There was no gentle acclimatisation today, we started in the mud and we stayed in the mud the whole way.
The field spread out quite quickly and I soon found myself pacing behind a couple of ladies I’ve seen at various other Foxtrails events this winter. I was quite pleased that I was further into my run today before I was overtaken by someone running with a dog! My legs felt pretty good given that I’ve run a lot this week and I just decided to ignore the Garmin and push on as much as my body was telling me I could.
By the time we had entered into John Muir for the first time the rain had stopped and it was starting to warm up, we passed the lovely smiling girls at the water stop and headed towards the foot bridge at West Barns where we would run the only part of the race on the pavement, a roughly 400m stretch along past the pond, before we looped back towards the bridge.
I met Nicola here, she was leading the female contingent, and we pulled off a perfect high five before we carried on our separate ways. I was roasting by this point and seriously regretting the base layer, but it was covering my watch and so was providing some much needed relief from constantly checking pace/distance.
My legs had realised where we were by this point and I had settled into a nice pace behind another solo runner. As we passed the water stop for the second time and headed back into the trees it became apparent that my knowledge of this particular trail was going to stand me in better stead and it was easy enough to pick out a route through the sand dunes without much trouble. A cheeky little loop through the trees added some extra distance and suddenly we were only 3km from home.
The trail after the last footbridge was treacherous today and a couple of girls in front fell victim to not being very sure footed and slipped. It was sliddy and muddy and incredible to run on though and my trusty claw talons kept me locked onto the ground and I managed to gain a few positions over the last 2km.
It was an amazing final race, one of the few I have actually enjoyed from start to finish with no thoughts of ‘why on earth am I even doing this’. And I managed to come in 14 seconds quicker than last time, and nabbed myself a top 40 finish so it wasn’t a bad day on the trail either!
As an overall race series this one hasn’t failed to deliver at all. I managed to complete 4 out of the 6 races, with injury knocking me out of the 16km and a lack of training/confidence dropping me out the half marathon but from the races I have participated in, none have disappointed. The trail around Foxlake is second to none, the organisation is always spot on and the smiles and encouragement from all the marshals and staff never falters despite the foul weather conditions at times.
The overall series winners were announced after today’s race and it was lovely to some familiar faces on the podium. Consistency and super speedy times are the key to this series for sure.