For months Kim and I had been training hard for the Clarendon Marathon. We’d been out in all weathers, mostly wet, walking miles and miles to prepare ourselves for what lay ahead. Of course, neither of us really knew what lay ahead, except that it would be hilly, or at least the last part would be. What I wasn’t prepared for though, was a horrible cold, striking me in the week leading up to the big day. In an attempt to get rid of it quickly I took tons of Lemsip and had lots of sleep and rest but, when the big day arrived, I felt dreadful and it was clear my cold was going nowhere fast.
With exactly a week to go before Clarendon there was yet another early start for yet another race. This time it was the Ageas 10k. Commando was pacing, Kim was tail running and a small but perfectly formed group of Hamwic Harriers were running. That left me to take the photos. The rain seemed to have been falling non stop for as long as I could remember and looked set to continue. It all felt slightly familiar. Remembering the soaking at Winchester last weekend, I decided to wear my dryrobe. This, of course, almost guaranteed the rain would hold off.
When Hamwic Harriers signed up to marshal the Winchester Half Marathon we’d all expected to be standing around in searing heat trying not to burn or dehydrate. All kinds of drinks were purchased in preparation for the long, hot day, along with snacks to keep us going and jelly sweets to give out to the runners. Commando had even bought paper dishes to put the sweets in. Today was the day though and dehydration looked like it would be the least of our worries.
This morning began with an early drive to the airport to drop Commando and Rob off. They were catching a train, not a plane, heading for Winchester and a summer social run with a small group of Hamwic Harriers. Kim and I would be conquering a few hills around Mansbridge while we waited for them to come back. It all sounded great, apart from the fact it was raining again.
Romsey is the newest parkrun in Hampshire and, since the first event back in March, we’ve been meaning to check it out. This parkrun is held on the playing fields of Mountbatten School, near the Broadlands Estate in Romsey, home of the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma. The course is more or less flat and mostly on grass, which was good news for Rob who has been suffering with a heel problem since Thunder Run.
After a night of alarmingly high winds, Southampton Common looked a little the worse for wear when we arrived this morning. There were leaves, twigs and even small branches littering the path as we headed towards the start area. As this path is also part of the course, it was a bit of a worry but we knew ED Rob, RD Kate and park ranger Ian would have walked or cycled round the course to do a risk assessment.
The rain held off for parkrun but, by the time we got back to Catton Park it looked as if the clouds were gathering. This was not good news for the Thunder Runners or for Kim and I who’d been planning to walk a couple of laps of the course for our Clarendon training.
Sleeping in a tent in the rain isn’t easy. This year though, we’d dispensed with the, frankly, useless air beds that never seem to stay inflated for more than an hour or two and bought proper camp beds with us. They looked narrow and uncomfortable but were surprisingly good to sleep on. Because of the rain and the fading light we’d gone to bed quite early and I woke equally early. Commando was still sleeping but I sneaked out of the tent and went off for a wander. It was just after five in the morning.
Summer came late this year but, when it hit, it hit hard with weeks of high temperatures and high humidity. The thought of a little camping at Thunder Run in mid July was a bright spot on the horizon. Both Rob and Commando said they were going to take things easy this year, do a few laps but also relax a little. We didn’t really believe them but I still imagined Kim and I chilling in the gazebo in the sun, sipping cool drinks and walking a lap or two ourselves.
As we set off for the Wyvern 10k this morning I felt unusually light of heart. Previous versions of this event have felt a little like hell on Earth, standing in blistering heat, camera in hand, desperately trying to get photos of runners crossing the finish line. They had to be good photos too, no funny faces or wobbly flesh, just flying feet and smiles. There was never any time to go wandering, just an aching back, arms and legs from standing still for so long and maybe a bit of sunburn.