Race: Piece of cake trail half marathon
Date: Saturday 14th July
Supporting Runners: N/A
Fundraising to date: £4,180
Finishing Time: HOURS (3:04:00)
Its been 1 week since I posted my blog post: ‘Is suicide selfish?’, which has been my most read blog up to now. I wanted to leave it at the top of the list for a while longer (and also fully recover) before I droned on with more race details.
The Cardingmill Valley Trail Half Marathon is a very important one for 30for30 as I reckon it is the biggest challenge on the list, after the New York Marathon.
Running relatively flat road half marathons is one thing… But when a race requires you to carry 1 litre of water, a first aid kit and a map of the area, it is a whole different kettle of fish.
I came across this race, ironically titled the ‘Piece of cake’ race, a few months ago, and half talked myself into it after seeing some really nice images of the previous years race.
I spoke to my friend Darren – who loves a day trip out to anywhere with nice scenery – and he persuaded me and promised to be there to support.
It took a couple more months to finally take the plunge and sign up…
I think the big thing to note here is that when I was triple checking that it was a good idea, I searched through previous year’s results to check the finishing times to make sure I wouldn’t be completely on my own. I saw that people were finishing around 3mins between each other – meaning I would always be near someone.
Oh how that didn’t matter anymore… but more on that in a sec.
The alarm went off too early for a Saturday (around 6:30am) and Darren picked me up with more than enough time to get to Cardingmill Valley before 10am.
Mum and Andy had decided to follow on – they had a social life this weekend so originally couldn’t stay for the whole thing, so travelled separately.
After a nice journey through the scenic route, with some delicious pre-race car snacks provided by Darren, we arrived and parked up dead on 9am for a 10am race start.
I got out of the car and saw a lot of runners heading up this huge hill and had a mini panic that I had missed the race. I came to the logical conclusion in my head that they MUST be the full marathon runners having a head start – this is actually quite a normal scenario…
I chuckled to myself that I had a mini moment of panic. I even stopped to take a picture and shared it on my social media to show the world what I would soon be doing.
I then continued to eat more flapjacks and generally faffed around before sauntering over to the registration desk.
“Oh we changed the start time to 9am, did you not get the email?”
I still don’t even know what to say…
I mean, I wouldn’t say I am particularly bad at handling tricky situations… But I phoned Mum and cried. (lol)
I was standing there with a Camelbak litre of water on (courtesy of my lovely colleague Kelly) and a GoPro strapped around my waist – quite literally had all of the gear and absolutely no idea what to do next.
I’d travelled 2 hours for this, and Mum and Andy were soon to arrive – I obviously had to do it. Especially after telling so many people about it and sharing it all over Instagram – the humiliation 🙄
Mum arrived and I felt sorry for myself a bit more, which I think panicked her a bit. She then began to get a bit teary and said “remember why you’re doing it, you’ll be fine” and at this point I think even the race organiser was getting a bit worried.
So it got to 10am and off I went on my own little race, my ‘no more than 3mins away from someone else’ theory out of the window.
I would like to point out that the same thing happened to other registrants, but they just went as soon as they caught wind of the error, instead of crying until the original start time… I was overwhelmed OK.
For some parts, it was fun. I was on my own in this wild adventure with only my Camelbak keeping me alive… I felt like Bear Grylls as soon as I was out of sight, and I kind of enjoyed it for all of about 3mins.
The first 4miles were exceptionally difficult. I basically had to climb and climb and climb, before reaching a flat(ish) section of open space.
It was here where I came across my first friend – a gigantic bird of prey circling the area.
Again, not usually one for being dramatic – but I was questioning whether it would swoop down and attack me? Surely everyone has watched Staircase on Netflix and heard of the Owl theory? – amirite?!
I’d love to say I’m joking but I started to feel a bit vulnerable and was longing to be with fellow runners.
I just wanted to see some humans, and I knew the fan club were waiting at mile 4.
For perspective, it usually takes me about 35mins to run 4miles but we were close to an hour at this rate with no sign of me speeding up.
Here’s some nice GoPro footage of me being reunited – telling them how hard it was and asking if birds of prey can attack… If Mum had of expressed worry for me at this point, I would have been tempted to give up.
Things got better from here – I made it to the first checkpoint and spoke to the volunteers there. If we were getting competitive about times, we could say I used up a lot of time speaking to anyone and everyone that I came across.
I had some sugary drinks, sweets and snacks and spoke about why I was so far at the back. I also shared my bird of prey story, to which the volunteer said it has in fact happened recently(!!!) In a different part of the UK though.. Stay safe out there runners 🦅
Fast forward a few miles after a long bit of downhill and some more uphill – I caught up one of the 9am racers (hurrah!) – that sounds really show off-ish but guess what – it felt good!
I was on a roll and passed some friendlier wildlife before the next big ascent…
All was going well until I then went the wrong way.
I had heard on my travels that there were some kids moving the arrows around and turning them in different directions…
I came across an arrow that was pointing left but the writing was upside down. I asked some nearby kids “HAVE YOU MOVED THIS” – they were kind of laughing and saying no but smirking and so I made the executive decision to turn right… Trust issues 🤷
Luckily, I had shared my location with the fans back at base and once I was half a mile in the wrong direction, they told me to turn around.
If only I had read that the upside down writing on the arrow actually said: “Be careful of the ice” – which obviously had nothing to do with today’s race.
Nearly there, promise.
I then re-overtook the nice lady that I had overtaken previously, who obviously had more sense than me (who’s the real winner here). We shared words of encouragement and enjoyed a massive descent to the finish line.
I’d like to point out that this is what Mum, Andy and Darren climbed to see me at that 4mile mark. Great effort guys – it was ridiculously steep.
I was welcomed back to humanity to loads of cheers and applaud. On the way down, I think people thought I was actually the front marathon runner on my second lap as I had taken so long to finish, and I got a taste of what it felt like to be an athletic champion.
It took me over THREE HOURS in the end to complete, which is the longest amount of time I have ever ran for. And I sure felt it the next day.
I had a sports massage at the end, which I would like to say was enjoyable but it wasn’t. I think it had huge benefits for walking purposes this past week though, so thank you Sir!
I could tell that the race organisers were pleased to have me back, after witnessing the state I got myself into at the start (sorry guys). They provided me with one of the best medals of the collection so far and showed me a selection of other races they do.
I would highly recommend if you are after a challenge similar to this one: http://codrc.co.uk/
So there we have it – the hardest race so far. Although I am sure I have said that at least 10 times already…
Big thank you to Mum, Andy and Darren for the support!! And to Kelly for providing me with the Camelbak water rucksack (this challenge is getting pretty expensive and these things massively help!)
Thanks to everyone who sponsored me too – once again, it makes all of the effort worth it and we are very close to the fundraising target. If you would like to donate, please visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EmmaBramwell2
I was going to end this blog with a further update on race number 21(part 2 of 4), which was last night… But I think I have exceeded everyones attention span, so I will save that for another time!
I am off this weekend to Scotland to watch The Open. I have fond memories of going to see the golf in St Andrews with Adam. I will be doing a 4mile ‘Splash n Dash’ along the beach on Saturday night for race number 23 ❤️
The Open, St Andrews – 2015