Salcey Forest Winter Challenge 6 Hours 2020

I love doing these events hosted by Big Bear. I’m a slow runner who takes walk breaks (have a read about lap 4…) and I have always felt welcomed and encouraged to give it my best shot.

So, my first race of 2020! The last time I did this there was no mud and lovely sunshine in the middle and I completed my first trail half.

The lap is just over 5km, and you do as many as you can / want in 6 hours. Lovely.

The weather was great (apparently there was sleet after we left, though!). It was a bit cold and there were some fun mud patches. A perfect chance to try out my new trail shoes!

I was also trying out a new fuel option for my upcoming ultra, Tailwind. I really liked it and I’m going to keep using it in future to test it out some more and see how I get on.

As usual the aid station was amazing with all the things you could ever want to eat / drink and there’s also space to leave your own stuff to, which is very welcome.

I set my watch to count down from half as I always find this much more motivating… a quick briefing and then we were underway.

Lap 1 – Brr! It started off pretty cold. I was regretting my choice of keeping my hoodie on after about 5 minutes, I never learn. I discovered on this lap I get a stitch if I try to run above my plodding pace and talk at the same time, haha! As always Salcey forest looked lovely, especially when the sun came out.

After this lap I ate a custard cream. Already I was feeling the can’t eat and run feeling, I need to work on this so I can eat real food and run in the future.

Lap 2 – Warmer. Ditched the hoodie. This was another good lap for us trying out a walk / run strategy – my friend is a faster runner than me so we are practicing running together and trying different options for our upcoming races – walk the uphills is a nice one.

Photo by Nick at Big Bear Events

I think this lap is when I first met the guy juggling while running a marathon – what a legend.

I then ate another 2 custard creams and had some Tailwind. At this point I was feeling fine if still having to forcing the biscuits down. Normally I hate these, but there was something about them today calling to me…

After lap 2 I set off without Fe and she was to catch me up.

Lap 3 – I did good ploddy pace and Fe caught me up about 2km in. I am much better at my plodpace than run / walk, but plodpace seems a bit slow. We’ll work on it I’m sure and come up with a solution for future races. We learnt quite a lot today of what not to do, anyway!

I had another custard cream by the way.

At the end of lap 3 I started getting pain in my toe joint. I have Hallux Rigidus so I cannot bend my big toe back at all and I cannot spring off my toes like other runners – it’s why I have a weird gait and slow pace. Normally it doesn’t hurt but at the end of lap 3 my right toe joint was starting to feel hot. I was quite annoyed at my foot…

As a side note about this, sometimes I wish I was faster or “better” at running, but I have to accept my limitations and do my best.

This is one of the reasons I love these races. There’s no time pressure, and all of the other runners who lapped us a few times were supportive and encouraging as were the event staff. Everyone was so kind.

Lap 4 – We walked this one. We knew we were going to so popped hoodie / coat back on. My toe joint was sore by the end of this lap, but I set out to do a half so that’s what I was going to do. I think half was my limit today, I had to be realistic / sensible and not hurt myself or end up with an injury.

I realised I was not wearing my insoles, they were tucked up snug in my road shoes (oops). This may explain the pain, but I may need to go back to the foot lady if it continues. It’s something I will keep an eye on as distances get longer.

With lap 4 done, we rang the bell to call it a day. I had another custard cream (I have no idea why they looked so good today). We then got the highly anticipated flapjack, booze and medal. The flapjack was different, it had some kind of jam in it. I didn’t think they could get better, but they have..!

I will certainly be back for more of these races.