Some people may question why I am still married to Daniel especially after he buys me anniversary presents like an ironing board! Which I am refusing to open and use despite Beth asking, ‘Are you ever going to iron again?’ However he does know how to get in my good books… Marathons!
East Farm should have been the double marathon weekend as part of my White Star Season ticket but my Achilles issue meant yet another deferral. Unlike some major marathons WSR do allow transfers and deferrals so as well as organising great events they give great customer service.
One thing I love about WSE events is the on site camping in the field where the race starts and ends. However I am less enamoured with Daniel’s moaning about some mistake I had apparently made!
It was pleasing to see Mary has learned from the feedback I have given her in the past when pitching the tent. The swift pitching allowed me a good giggle at the expense of another local club. Maybe if tent pitching could be built into a race we would have had a BIG head start. As it was I sat watching them as the rain poured down!
Despite the perfect pitching Daniel worried about the gusts of wind especially as we lost the porch at the Invader. So as he set off to find a camping windbreak I enjoyed the delights of the farm shop and locally made cider in the hope it would help with the snoring problem – I would be asleep before he started to snore… loudly!
Rather than be at a loose end for hours and hang around a bar as a teetotaller as Mary ran yet another marathon without me I volunteered to help out. I would be part of the team on the Lovestation – an aid station to top all aid stations… Water, squash, flat coke, energy drink and after 10am vodka and beer!
After 20 years of marriage Daniel’s strange behaviour shouldn’t come at that much of a surprise. However, even I was a little shocked to see him leaving the tent dressed in a dinner jacket. More so when he wasn’t wearing the trousers.
Each White Star Event seems to have a theme, this time ‘Dress to impress.’ So this meant DJ… but as I am on my summer holiday I had to wear shorts. So leaving Mary to finish getting ready I left at 8am.
Unlike Daniel I am very organised so as he was taken to the Lovestation, I finished getting ready for a 9 o’clock start. As I went to prepare my drop bag I realised that the tube of Hi5 electrolyte tablets was empty! Shhhh don’t tell Daniel.
Opening up the double gazebo there was lots to do before the first runners arrived. Setting out drinks and laying out the smorgasbord of delectable treats. Gerkins and tomatoes. Orange and watermelon. Cocktail sausages and pretzels. Jelly beans and jelly lips. Crisps and cheesy snacks. Cakes cakes and more cakes. You certainly could have a buffet of delights.
At 9 o’clock after a race briefing the first of my 8 laps started. Up a huge great hill. The first lap involved a longer loop that spread runners out before the woods.
As the I poured the last of the water into the waiting cups the radio signalled the start of races. First the marathon, 15 minutes later the dog half marathon start (Canicross) we missed the 9:30 radio signal for the half marathon as the first runners had started to charge passed.
Signs both directional and entertaining kept runners on course as we hurtled down hills and over the straw bales set down to move between fields harmlessly over the barbed wire fence. In the distance the orange tent of the Lovestation came into view before the sound of the music playing hit your ears.
Mary came trotting into the Lovestation looking remarkable fresh and full of running. Well it was only lap 1.
It was odd to see my marathon buddy on the other side of the Lovestation table but it was far better than not seeing Daniel at all during the run. In fact his presence could be heard along way off by my second lap. His running tunes were soon blaring out of the speaker! Who else would mix the Spice Girls with Bon Jovi?
Swigging down a cup of freshly flattened cola, Mary was soon back off and running.
Leaving the Lovestation the route back to the start of another lap was gently downhill for around a mile. Passing the farm shop I remember back to last year and promised myself an ice lolly on the last lap.
The spread of runners kept me very busy filling cup after cup of water, squash and flat coke. Having removed my jacket earlier I rather resembled a nightclub bouncer!
After the first longer lap the subsequent laps were a little shorter. However the uphill start passed the camping was trickier each time.
The spirit of camaraderie of runner’s showed up at the Lovestation when reports of a fallen runner needing first aid came in. So grabbing the first aid kit I set out to help.
Despite Daniel’s words of wisdom on the shoes to wear, I went with trail shoes as the morning grass was damp and slippy. Generally the ground was hard and firm with large flints and tree roots hidden to catch out runners not fully focused or with a high enough leg lift.
Wearing shorts and trainers proved to be a good decision for running to offer first aid to a fallen runner as I was far more mobile than suit trousers and patent leather shoes would offer. Running against the tide of runners each group I passed told me about the injured lady.
By the third lap the bales of straw over the fence seemed to grow higher and higher.
I found my injured runner bloodied but still moving. Seeing nothing that looked immediately life threatening apart from me trying to stop her I popped the walkie-talkie to call for emergency medical help back in my pocket and walk / ran with her back up the hill I had just run down to the Lovestation.
Last year, once over the straw bales the cut field led you gently uphill to the zombie apocalypse barn – I have seen the Walking Dead, I know these things! – was in blazing sun. However this year the weather was far kindier to other runners; still sunny and warm but with a sneaky blustery breeze at times.
Back at the Lovestation my first aid skills came into play… unfortunately I wasn’t at school to offer a magic blue paper towel with an ice cube that cures so many children’s injuries so a quick clean up and plaster had to suffice and the promise she would see the proper medical team at the end of the lap.
Passing the barn, the path meandered down Mr Bump Hill – the location of a spectacular fall from Daniel last year made more memorable from his many other tumbles as less than a minute beforehand he commented, ’26 miles! See I can run a marathon without falling over!’ before promptly slipping over and rolling in a very dramatic fashion and getting straight back up muddied and bruised but otherwise undamaged. No fall has yet to knock any sense into him!
Continuing on the Lovestation, runners around the lady who fell all asked how she was each time they passed. Thankfully I was able to report that she was fine and continuing to run. (Edit As we left to have breakfast today we saw her getting ready to try and run another marathon today with her cut bandaged!)
Turning towards the Lovestation the field this year had huge sweetcorn planted but the roar of speakers indicated that I would soon be seeing Daniel again.
Despite having the opportunity to be relieved from my shift early I decided to hang around to see Mary pass each time and offer her friendly husbandly encouragement.
Walking into the Lovestation for the final time I made sure Daniel saw the stick from the ice lolly I had enjoyed from the farm shop. Gulping down flat coke I collected Daniel for the final mile.
The last mile to the finish was a gentle downhill passing crops and pasture before entering the farmyard and the finish. It was lovely to at least spend one part of our anniversary run together.
Crossing the line in 6:34 I was a little slower than when I ran the course last year. Maybe it was the Daniel effect… he kept me chatting far to long at the Lovestation each time.
If you ever have a free weekend that WSR have an event and want to enjoy some miles in beautiful surroundings with generous cut off times with a friendly group give them a go. The on site bar and catering are good value so you can get away without having a camp kitchen and chilling facilities. Every WSR event we have enjoyed as runners, helper or just as a spectator. It would be nice to have a Massey Encampment at the Crafty Fox. See you there?