"Hmmm... how about this Pilgrim's Challenge thingy then Jim? Looks ace!"
A 66 mile two day race on the North Downs Way.
That was it, we were not going to miss it. Changing shifts, sorting childcare, training on the hills and counting down the days... and what a fantastic online build up XNRG provided!
After kissing my son goodbye we headed down to Farnham on the eve of the event and stayed in a Travelodge. Carbo loading comprised of a few beers and a big fat pizza... well we needed to relax a little!
Rising before sunrise we arrived at the venue, the field was iced with frost and coloured with subdued flags. We make for the tent and WOW! So warm, bustling with athletes, hot drinks, gels, bars, buffs and smiles.
We started at 9am and I had not the faintest idea of how to pace myself for a two day event. I soon warmed up and got chatting to people. So many people had done so many impressive races... double Badwaters, MDS, Spartathlons!
The competitors were so friendly, I was given a gel by one of the elite 10am starters when he found me having a "bonk" in the woods.
The checkpoints were perfect the likes of myself who crave savoury food during long runs. I grew stronger and faster, the tunes went on and I crossed the line having done 33 miles in 5h38m.
Plodding into the digs at the school hall, the first thing that appealed to me was two very fit looking guys giving massages... it'd be rude not to!
Day 2 was so very tough but absolutely amazing... It was like Narnia, everything was so quiet, muffled by the snow. My core muscles had a true work out ducking and diving under the heavily laden branches. The checkpoints were a godsend... vivid bursts of colour in a totally white world. Friendly faces and a load of scrummy food.