Get a little mud on the tyres: 2020 Clarendon Marathon
Yesterday saw the guys at the Winchester Rotary Club put on the Clarendon Marathon here in Hampshire (a point-to-point trail marathon from Salisbury to Winchester), in what must have been their trickiest conditions yet.
Not only did they have to completely rethink their race plan to keep us safe within social distancing guidelines, but Storm Alex came along to spice things up and turn the course in to a quagmire.
But this didn't stop them putting on a fabulous event, and the 1,000 runners making the most of what is, at this point in time, a rare opportunity to race out on the trails.
Sitting down this morning with my morning coffee and my post-race glow, I've been reflecting on what I learned from my hours out on the Clarendon Way.
RACE THE CONDITIONS
Yesterday was definitely one of those days where you needed to take stock of the weather and the conditions of the trails and adjust your race plan accordingly.
Don't get me wrong, there was some amazing times and results yesterday. But it was definitely a day to make sure you kitted up right, slowed down a touch to take care in the mud and on the descents, and of course be safe and socially distant for your fellow runners.
Endurance runners of all people know how to play the long-game, and getting to the finish line in one piece and living to fight another day was definitely the order of the day. Sometimes you just need to accept what life throws in front of you and adapt, rather than fight against the current.
ENJOY IT WHILST YOU CAN
I know it's a cliche to say we are loving in uncertain times, but it was such a joy to be out running with other people in an event in such stunning scenery.
We don't know if and when we might get to do it again at the moment, so making sure you take more out of the day than a time and a t-shirt was really important.
Enjoying the views, engaging with the other runners and the amazing marshals, and taking time to stop and appreciate how lucky we were to be doing what we love.
STILL I RISE
But what never ceases to amaze me and make me so proud to be part of the trail running community, is our ability to bounce back.
I've always believed It's not whether we stumble or fall in life that defines us, but how we pick ourselves back up again.
Yes I saw people tip and fall in the mud, sometimes with blood and bruises to show for it. But everybody I saw got straight back up and carried on, and always with another runner or two stopping to make sure they were okay and give assistance if needed.
As I'm doing as I sit and write this, when things don't go as we had hoped the best thing we can do is reflect and find what we can learn from our experience to help us improve and develop.
Life, like the trails we run on, is full of ups and down and twists and turns - we've got to make the most of it all!