The Serpent 6 Mile race is one of the races on the club champs list that I was most worried about. I’d heard it was a snaky trail race and this was something new to me. I’d never really done a proper trail race before.
The race takes place through the hills near Smithills in Bolton, starts off in a pub car park – up a slight incline to turn right up a massive bloody hill; it just got worse from there! The rain doesn’t make any run easy and whilst it was a clear day, it had been raining so puddles and mud was everywhere!
The first couple of miles were ok as I was feeling good and there was a lot of people with me, however watching the mud and puddles soon meant I was near the back and slowing down even more – the race was set off in waves and those people in waves behind me were racing on ahead – I got inside my own head and was fearful that I couldn’t do it. Until my race guardian angel came upon me and very nearly literally picked me up. I’ve loved the last three races of 2019 because of people from club who were there to get me back running despite my protests. In this race, it was Julia’s turn; she bundled me up and we headed off together. This was about halfway in, we had no idea (well I certainly didn’t) what was ahead of us. Rounding a corner, we looked up to see a Hill. Not just any hill, this Hill gives the Rake in Ramsbottom a run for its money. We’d already been walking a bit to keep going but decided to walk up the Hill. The mad people running up the Hill gave us lots of encouragement but we laughed and swore our way up it.
The hill gave way to a rolling bit of country, running through fields and along walks made us a bit better but we both had to keep stopping until a couple kept going past us, we’d then run a bit and overtake, we’d stop and they’d overtake etc. We both, seemingly unspoken, decided to just go for it, only 2 miles left and most of it down hill. We made a break for it, running as fast as we could go, still joking and swearing as much as possible. We eventually finished after a mad sprint to the line and received our medal and very tasty jelly snake! I also nabbed a bit of chocolate sponge cake from the cake stall which was much needed.
It was a great race, I’m so grateful for Julia for that day; I wanted to give up so many times but she wouldn’t let me. We had a cup of tea in the pub afterwards waiting for the awards and as I looked round at all my clubmates, I was truly happy that I was there.
I was also late back home for karate so we won’t go into that but this race is one of my favourites and I’ll look out for it next year. I wasn’t fast, it wasn’t a ‘nice’ race but it gave me a new love of trails, got me out for a bit and helped me understand that it’s not always about being the fastest or the best; it’s about just doing it and finishing.
The last few months of 2019 were really difficult for me in terms of my running. I seem to have lost motivation, I wanted to run but my mind and body were just seemingly not cut out for it. It’s taking time, but with some extra training and lots of pep talks, I’ll get there!