Getting caught in the end of the working day traffic and also having to stop for petrol too, meant that I arrived at Shear Water slightly later than I had originally planned. Not too much behind schedule though and I still managed to begin running just after 6.20pm.
My aim for this run was two fold – # 1 was to increase the time of my long run, with the target of this particular run being 6 hours. #2 was to experiment with my pace in order to find one that I can sustain for 24 hours. I achieved #1 and I am still undecided about # 2 at present.
I set off for my first lap of the route underneath a confused sky. It was dull and overcast as it made constant threats to unleash it’s watery contents earthwards. However, every now and then, the sun would burst through from behind a heavy cloud to brighten up the landscape to something more akin to a July evening.
Lap1 (as with all the other laps tonight) was fairly uneventful. I did however come accross a particularly well overgrown section. As I started the climb up a restricted bridleway on the second half of the first lap, it appeared that no one had set foot on the land since Martin and I had been there the previous month. The track itself, aswell as the surrounding bushes would of looked more at home in the Amazon Jungle than in a sleepy Wiltshire woodland (just a slight exaggeration from me there). But on the upside – the rain held off………….for a while anyway. I finished lap 1 after 1hr 10 mins and straight away commenced onto lap 2.
Lap 2 brought the rain with it. Not enough to make me put my waterproof on though. It rained slightly for a while and then stopped. Then it rained slightly for a while again before stopping once more. Then it rained heavily. I got wet. But as the evening was very muggy I found the rain quite refreshing. The rain stopped as I ended lap 2 after just over 1 hr 15 mins and never reappeared again.
The light was fading fast as I made way around the 3rd lap, and by the time I was half way round I needed my headtorch. Initially I only had it switched on when I was under the canopy of the trees, but that soon evolved into being a requirement when I was out in the open too. I stopped briefly when I got back to my car to fill my water bottles and then pushed on for another lap after only a few minutes.
Lap 4 was ran in total darkness and thanks to the earlier rain it was quite muddy underfoot in a few places. I found the combination of mud, the Amazon like plant life, and negotiating the track by headtorch alone, naturally slowed me down somewhat. I popped my earphones in and listened to some music to distract me from the zombies that I just know were lurking behind every tree!! I made it back to my car after this lap with a total completed time of just over 5 hours. Not enough time to complete another full lap and still be within my 6 hour target. And I did want to run for only 6 hours- not anymore than that…………… well, not on this occassion at least. So with that in mind I stopped at the car for a quick bite to eat, topped up one of my water bottles and headed off for a half lap. I finished this half measure and returned to my car for the final time after a total time of 6hrs 2 mins. My total elevation gained for this meandering around the woods – 2,324 ft 🙂