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Beauty and the Beast trail marathon

mhowoodby mhowoodOct 4th 2012
Beauty and the Beast trail marathon
From the creators of HellRunnerĀ™ comes The Helly Hansen Beauty and the Beast. A measured off-road trail marathon taking place at Stonor Park, near Henley on Thames, on Saturday 22nd September 2012, commencing at 1000am.

They didn't lie!
A tough course that warranted immediate reevaluation of goals as soon as I arrived.
On seeing 'The Beast' of a hill that we'd have to climb 6 times, combined with most of the run being on untrodden grassland, and overnight rain (I wouldn't call it a 'trail' marathon, as 36km of it was across fields), I moved my goals from 3:30 pace to 4hr pace. I also opted for my Salomon Speedcross trail shoes, rather than my trusty road Asics 1160.
The first 4 laps of 6 slipped by at around 38min per lap, with no major issues outside of sore feet due to always running on a camber, or downhill or uphill - there was no real flat at any point.
However, I started to get some gastric problems, and didn't seem able to digest gels. I backed off a bit and skipped some nutrition, to allow my stomach to settle. This worked in the short-term but cost me dearly at 31km, where I began to feel sick and dizzy, weaving across the short trail section. I slowed but I was in a bit of a state, and opted to sit down and collect myself. A kindly runner (William Morgans - I think) checked I was okay and gave me some water. I started slowly sipping from an espresso gel, got to my feet and resumed an uphill march.
I'm glad I didn't quit, as I began to recover and passed William and all the runners who had overtaken me over the next 10km.
It wasn't to last, because with only 800 yards, and The Beast to climb 1 more time, I found myself dizzy once more and trying not to vomit.
William passed me again on the climb (I was on hands and knees at this point!) to beat me by 26 seconds.

Happy to have finished 20th, considering, in an event where only 10 people ducked under 4 hours, and only the podium managed sub 3:40!

A tough day indeed!
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