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Night racers

April 6, 2011

Coming out of the mud crawl

If you are going to run; run at night, in the woods, over mountain bike trails, in a floaty dress, and with your best mates :)!

For me the beauty of sport is a chance totally immerse myself in the world.  I am most happy when I stop thinking and become a creature of motion and instincts. When I am stripped down to being just a succession of actions and reactions, I feel a very special sense of freedom that I can’t seem to find in everyday life.

Off road night running is fantastic for attaining this state! With only a small amount of light it’s hard to focus your vision, you have to defocus and rely on peripheral vision to guide your feet.  With vision restricted, your senses are opened up and you smell, hear, and feel so much more of the world around you. Your sense of speed is increased (weeeeee!), and time becomes irrelevant.  Add to this the ever present sense of adventure that comes with knowing any moment you might trip over a tree root or misjudge a rough bit of ground and I defy you not to to finish grinning from ear to ear!

Lisa and Anthony

My friends Anthony, Lisa Rachel and I all got addicted to running when we trained with Lisa for a race for life after she’d had a serious accident.  My lifelong dislike of running was abandoned in the face of Lisa’s enthusiasm and determination to prove her doctors wrong after they told her she might not be able to walk properly again.   Before we knew it we’d signed up for a half marathon and we have all gone on to do many more races since, both together and separately.  Lisa has spent several years in America as a researcher, (managing to fit in several marathons whilst there and many other exciting adventures with her fiance Eddy of course!)  They’ve finally moved back to the UK and this weekend was the first time we’ve been able to race all together since 2004 – you can imagine the excitement!!

Legends of Sherwood is an offroad night race set in Sherwood forest (funnily enough) and although the course is reasonably serious the atmosphere is all about fun with a set of silly obstacles along the way and a lot of encouragement to wear fancy dress.  The route set was amazing, with a mix of trails and rough ground.  Highlights for me were running crouched between and under the trees in the  sections of dense conifer plantation, bouncing between hummocks set in beautifully springy soil on a knarly bit of mountain bike trail,  and trying to catch glimpses of the guiding white tape hung in trees without getting poked in the face with branches while running along a very winding path.  It was also brilliant to crawl through mud, brilliant to run in a floaty dress and brilliant to be running with some of my dearest friends again.  Managing to pack in a lot of good eating, fine beer, tea and bimbling around the run made for a perfect weekend and a great official start to the summer. Yay!