“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
“Let us be thankful for the fools. Without them, the rest of us could not succeed.” Mark Twain
“You’re a moron.” Hugh Laurie (playing Dr Gregory House MD)
Now let’s get one thing straight. This weekend I ran in an event. Yes, it was a race, but for me it wasn’t. This event was not about mile splits or going fast. It wasn’t even about where I came in the field. It was about adventure. Getting outdoors somewhere new and challenging myself against the terrain. Got that? Good. Now perhaps you would remember that for me as it’s something I keep forgetting.
As a competitive guy by nature, I have to say that I DO care about mile splits and going as fast as I can. I’m a runner that pores over my Garmin data after every run to see how my run went and I like to see improvement. I know that I’m never going to win races, but I like to know I’ve fared well against my peer group. With that in mind, let’s get the dirty business of numbers out of the way shall we? Here are some stats from the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series Dorset marathon.
Total distance: 27.3 miles
Total ascent: 4910ft
Endurancelife course grading: 5 – Extreme
My time: 6 hrs 35 minutes
Winners time: 3 hrs 29 minutes
Last place time: 7 hrs 58 minutes
My position: 129 of 163 finishers
Number of DNF: 24
Now that the event is done and dusted and the delayed onset muscle soreness has well and truly got hold, the competitive part of me is really frustrated. I’ve made the same mistake I always do. I’ve been the fool that makes others look good. A moron. Once again, I’ve pitched up to a marathon event without having done the requisite training and I’ve suffered for it. In my last blog, I likened the CTS Suffolk marathon (a mere grade 2 run) to a dominatrix who gave me a light spanking to teach me the error of my ways. Well my friends, CTS Dorset was a different lady all together. She was incredibly beautiful. Stunning to look at. She lured me in with her delicious curves and the prospect of a personal challenge. She offered medals, Clif bars and yet another free race T Shirt. Unfortunately for me, this truly gorgeous lady was also a complete psychopath! To start with, she lulled me into a false sense of security. She let me get comfortable. She let me start to think that I was in control of the situation and was up to her standard. Then BANG! She tied me up, screamed at me, slapped me repeatedly in the face and kicked me in the balls. Twice. And then she stole all my money and ran away with my clothes…
The scenery on this run was simply amazing. The route took us westbound to begin a 12 mile loop past Durdle Door, along the coast and back to Lulworth Cove.
From there an eastbound 15 mile loop took us out onto the Lulworth range paths. The Lulworth ranges are part of the Armoured Fighting Vehicle Gunnery School which was founded on 2nd February 1918. They are an important part of training for the British Army and live firing exercises take place here regularly during the week. The paths only open at certain times and the public are advised to check an information website before use. Rusting hulks of old tanks can be seen scattered around the landscape like silent guardians of the land.
The paths are clearly marked with yellow stakes which at face value, appears to be a helpful navigation gesture by the Army. The reason for the stakes is slightly more sinister than it seems though. Since 1918 this piece of land has been barraged by live artillery. Unexploded shells have become buried in the hills and from time to time these potentially deadly artefacts come to the surface. The yellow stakes indicate the path that has been cleared of ordnance by the Army. To put that another way, the stakes represent the safe route – the bit where the unsuspecting marathon runner should not have to worry about getting their legs blown off. To stray off track is to expose oneself to the threat of a nasty and no doubt painful death. If the sheer cliff edges to the side of the path were not enough to worry about, the thought of being blown up certainly helped to focus the mind.
At mile 15, the hills had started to beat me. My mind was drifting to the part of the race briefing that advised us that if we needed an extraction from the course for any reason, we should attempt to reach the next checkpoint. From there safety vehicles would remove us back to the start. For the first time in any race I’ve done, I began to consider the merits of a DNF. Walking rather than running became the modus operandi and I began to line up my pathetic excuses for the checkpoint staff. Fortunately, the next checkpoint did not materialise until mile 23 and there was no way I was giving up then. My mile splits were now plainly ridiculous but the mission was to man up and get to the finish. At mile 25, another nasty hill brought forth a flurry of expletives, but before too long I was crossing the line to end the adventure.
CTS Dorset was a brilliant race. Hopefully the lessons inflicted will finally have sunk in as I have CTS Exmoor (another grade 5 -Extreme) booked for April.