A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Compton 40 2008 Compton 40 - 2008

The forcast cold clear weather was lost in the rain, sleet and snow as we drove the Compton school for the start in the morning.

I sorted the gear I would take with me and left the rest with Janet to take home, she would be back at 15:30 to pick me up but I did not expect to finish by then.

I was using this race to test my theory that for longer distance events the psychology aspect is as important as the training part. I could not alter the fact that I believed that I would complete the race but I had minimized my training, having only done one run of 20 miles since Christmas, all other runs being weekday lunchtime runs of no more than 6 miles. I wanted to see if I could get close to my time of 7:30 from 2006.

The wind was blowing strongly as we gathered outside for the start, I took up a position behind a building for some shelter. What this actually meant was that instead of the nice ‘walk through the woods’ just after the start, like in 2006, I ended up in the first 50 or so runners as we went around the playing fields and through the trees so there was little congestion and everyone was able keep running. This year was very different to 2006 which was nice warm tee-shirt weather. I wore my Patagonia waterproof jacket and a hat the whole way around, which had a nice steamy fug built up inside it most of the time. As I passed the point where the 20 and 40 split I had taken 3:45 which was on plan for my ‘target time’ of 7:30. There were alot less runners in the second 20 miles most had stopped at 20. I only passed about 4 or 5 runners in the second 20 miles.

At least in the first half there were sections of the route which were not as exposed to the wind however after climbing back out from Compton the next flat treeless 4 miles to Chilton, were into a strong headwind which I found to be the hardest section. At least there was no snow during this time.

It was a relief to turn out of the headwind into ‘just’ a cross wind towards East Hendred. It was actually quite sheltered through the villages and woods to East Ginge, and then the slog up onto the Ridgeway again did not seem to benefit from a tail wind to make up for the headwind earlier. I could see some lone runners in front of me but they were periodically disappearing in flurries of wind driven snow. The horse box checkpoints provided some welcome shelter.

The 6km from the last CP to the finish did seem to be a lot further than it really was. I ended up finishing in 7:41, so not quite 7:30 but I am pleased that I only took 11 minutes longer than 2006 when I had trained for it. Thanks to all the marshals for being out in that weather, a bit of everything except fog, but it was too windy for fog!.