A quick Google told us that it is a 23 mile route aimed at horse riders on a mixture of quiet lanes and bridalways. The loop passed within a mile of our houses so at 9am I jogged down to Dave's house and we were ready to go.
A fast mile and we were into Delamere Forest and on the familiar trails. After messing up my nutrition on the Sandstone Trail a couple of weeks back I was determined to get it right today. I started eating sportbeans and Lucozade tablets every mile, right from the start. In the pack I had jaffa cakes and some new potatoes and in addition to 2lts of water I carried a bottle of mixed electrolyte and a bottle of de-gassed coke. A nice picnic
Things went well for the first 13 miles and the trail was good. Through the forest, out on the lanes to Kelsall and into Primrosehill Wood. Lots of country lanes led us eventually to Oulton Park race track and half marathon distance in under 1:55...pretty good considering the mixed, undulating terrain.
Into Little Budworth Country Park and a welcome respite from the tarmac but I was starting to fade. I was drifting off Dave and had a minor stitch in my side. It was also getting hot and I was parched despite constantly drinking. I went down hill fast between miles 14 and 17 and, with Dave in the distance, I took my first walk break.
Dave waited for me at the start of the Whitegate Way and I told him to go off ahead. I wasn't in any danger but was just knackered and would have to run/walk my way home. There was no point in holding him back. I jogged on as I watched him vanish into the distance then convinced myself that I needed to eat some real fool, despite being pretty sure it would not stay down. I opened my pack to discover that the jaffa cakes had been pounded to pieces, leaving a gooey mess over everything. I couldn't bring myself to handle the tub containing my new potatoes so just zipped up the bag and carried on running.
The day got hotter, the pace got slower and the walk breaks got more frequent. The stitch was getting quite nasty too. I was not in a happy place! I was about a quarter of a mile from the end of the loop, about a mile and a quarter from home when I saw a car coming towards me. It looked a lot like Dave's car. It WAS Dave's car. There was no question in my head whether I would accept a lift...in I jumped! The temperature reading on the dash showed 26degrees.
Running long distances can make you arrogant. I did go into this run with the attitude that it's "only 23 miles". 23 miles is a long way! I went out too hard on a hot day and got spanked. I've come away from a poor run viewing it as a good learning point and have gained a strange affection for the route...I'll be back! I really do need to practice taking on food though. Three months of bonk training have been great but I've really got out of the habit of fuelling whilst on the run.