Meon Valley Plod – 28 February 2010
21.6 miles, mainly off-road and largely
under water. Jon Braund reports.
When the starter announced
that this year was the ‘heaviest going’ in over 20 years of the race, I
realised it was going to be challenging, particularly as I hadn't done
over 17 miles since picking up an achilles injury two years ago. I'd
left it too late to enter the Grizzly (half-deliberately, if you know
what I mean) and the Meon Valley Plod, the weekend before, looked a good
substitute. It turned out to be a gem.
I started, with Jeff, on a
muddy track, then we went up an incline through a muddy field before
turning down a muddy path ... and it went on mostly like that for the
next 22 miles. About 3 miles was on-road and some of the off-road was a
good running surface (mainly up the hills) but by and large the rain of
the previous weeks had coated the tracks with thick slippery glop,
interspersed with stretches of quagmire and knee-deep water that left my
feet cold and numb. One particularly evil section had mud-coated ridges
just too close together for a stride. It was while doing a Bambi-on-ice
impression on this that I passed Andy, who looked like he'd slid off the
side of the path and was working his way along the fence. We exchanged
abuse and I pressed on for a couple more hours of beautiful,
leg-sapping, countryside. I was completely out of energy by the end and
struggling to keep it going, having slalomed from side to side for most
of the second half to keep my feet, but a couple of bits of fruit cake
with coffee sorted that out.
I only fell over twice: I
can usually handle running through water, or over uneven ground, but
uneven ground hidden under water was too much and I went headlong,
landing comfortably, if wetly. Jeff unfortunately turned his ankle over
after about 11 miles (ironically, on one of the bits of road) and took
the decision to retire - a hard decision but the right one with a London
place to look forward to.
If you like the Grizzly,
it's worth giving this one a try. It's not quite as hilly - only about
2,700 feet of climb - but a lot muddier (or was this year, anyway) and
it took me longer because of the conditions underfoot. It's low impact
with the advantage that you've had the ice bath before you finish. I
will do it again, but with grippier shoes if the weather is anything
like it was this year. The first person finished in 2:34:20, although I
can't imagine how. My time was just under 10 minute miles, which sounds
rubbish but I couldn't have gone any quicker.
organisation was excellent, marshals were plentiful, really friendly and
enthusiastic, the drinks stations were well stocked with goodies
(including rum at the top of Butser - obviously I declined it as I need
to try some on a training run first), there was a hosedown and a shoe
lace untieing service at the end and free cakes and hot drinks.
And how is Debbie still
smiling at the top of Butser?
Jon Braund – 3:25:40
Andy Horsley – 3:28:08
Debbie Whittle – 5:02:54
Jeff Hinsley – retired