There are endless training plans for running 26.2 miles; endless resources for ways to build up the distance, manage your hydration and nutrition, kit and everything else.
But what about training for a 31 mile hike across the moors?
According to the organisers:
Granted, I’ll be walking it. But with a notorious hill dubbed ‘Green Mountain’, streams and rivers to cross, stiles and boggy fields to navigate, it’s not exactly a gentle Sunday stroll.
I’ve tried this event twice before. The first time, in 2010, my parents and I did the half distance. Not realising just how serious the event was, I turned up in a vest top and cardigan, with cheap trainers on my feet:
If it hadn’t been dry that year, there’s no way I would ever have made it to the end. Somehow, I did – and it was brilliant.
Last year, we decided to try the full distance. My parents had attempted it the year before, but severe weather conditions meant that they were stopped at the final checkpoint, with just 5 miles to go.
It was a bit grey and misty when we set off, but the skies cleared, and we enjoyed a little bit of sunshine as we passed the half-way point. We were in high spirits, and this time I was wearing sensible walking shoes, various layers, and had a waterproof coat in my rucksack (yes, I even had a rucksack that year). Unfortunately, the weather decided to shake things up a bit, and as we passed the checkpoint just before the FINAL checkpoint, the heavens opened. The volunteers asked if we wanted to get a lift back to the start, but being so close to the final checkpoint and those elusive five miles to the finish, we pushed on.
We soon realised that our waterproof jackets weren’t waterproof. We shuffled along an endless road, visibility decreasing by the minute as the fog rolled in, a bitter wind pressing our wet clothes against us and making us shiver. My legs had never felt so stiff. We never made it to that final checkpoint; instead, one of the organisers’ buses pulled up alongside us to pick us up, telling us that the event had once again been cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions.
Psychologically, it felt as difficult as I expect a marathon to feel towards the end – my whole body hurt, I was stiffening up, I was tired and miserable and wanted to give up. My legs ached for days afterwards. My parents had run Brighton a few months before, and agreed that both events were on a similar level.
But we refused to be defeated, and signed up once again to try the full distance. This summer, we’re determined to get to the finish line – this time, with waterproof jackets that are actually waterproof.
And preferably, without the torrential rain, bitter wind, and crazy amounts of fog.
Third time lucky, right!?