The final race in the Rogue Runs Night Race Series and they’ve saved the best/worst for last. Like the others in the series, the race is extremely well organised with plenty of marshals positioned around the route, with the route itself being extremely well-marked with reflected tape, arrows and the odd glow-in-the-dark skeleton.
I had booked all the races in the series late last year so this had been planned for sometime and despite happening just a few days after the Brecon to Cardiff Ultra I was keen to run it even if it meant holding back and enjoying the ride rather than racing.
Naturally my legs were tired in the days after the ultra but a sports massage had helped them improve and by Thursday I was feeling like I could run on them.
3, 2, 1, Go!
Not knowing how the race would go I started at the front just in case but being faced with a long climb I quickly settled into an easier pace and didn’t worry about others overtaking me. Starting on forestry trail the route went off road onto softer terrain before become quite technical. In fact, very technical.
By the first mile a runner had already got a shoe stuck in the mud and there were numerous opportunities to slip, slide, trip and fall. The terrain was tough, muddy and hilly which made it difficult to run on. The hills were mainly steep, but not too steep and that meant continuing to run up them. At times I would power hike and still maintain my position but so soon into the race I was wondering if this was how it was going to be for the rest of the race.
Not even two miles in and I was finding it a struggle. It was relentless but in a perverse way I was still enjoying it. I think by continuing to do tougher night and cross country races, I’m mentally becoming stronger and the thoughts of quitting are subsiding and I’m focusing more on the end of the race and making sure I get there.
The Mud Bath
At around the two mile mark or so I reached the sign that said ‘Mud Bath’. I knew there was a stream that we had to cross but I was not expecting this. This wide expanse of ankle-deep mud was unavoidable. You had to plough on through it and hope that your shoe laces were tied well enough to resist the sucking of the mud. Mine weren’t. My shoe was well and truly stuck in the deep mud. As I was in the race for fun, I saw the funny side and waded back and wrestled my shoe from the mud.
The course became slightly ‘easier’ with some welcome long stretches on much more forgiving trails with the odd fast downhill section to get the adrenaline going.
Nearing mile 5 was the stream crossing that I had read about. It was only a short crossing but was a little tricky getting in and out due to the steep, muddy banks. Thankfully there was only another half mile to go so didn’t have to run too far with wet feet.
The finish line was just beyond the start line at a cafe which was well stocked with tea, coffee and cake, lots of cake!
Race Analysis and Map