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Meet Your Max

By Emma Watkins

June 20th 2012

Fifty Shades of Mud!!

Lucy had persuaded me to enter this year’s Meet Your Max as she had really enjoyed it last year. As lunch time arrived, so did the rain …. rain, rain and more rain!!! By the time she picked me up to drive down it was absolutely pouring – I had already sent a text to Paul (via Anne) asking if it might be cancelled – my reply was not to be wimps and get on with it!! As we neared Truro, the rain was near monsoonal – this was either going to be great fun – or the worst idea ever!!

The pre-run briefing was held in the rugby club instead of on the start line, as just 15 minutes before we were due to start, it was still pouring. We were warned of uneven surfaces, steps and, in a few places, it might be wet and muddy – had he seen the ark parked on the rugby field??!! Miraculously, when we left the club to brave the weather and walk to the start, we discovered it had suddenly stopped raining, and it stayed away all evening – there would be no need for Noah to rescue anyone now!! But the damage had already been done – as we were about to find out!!

Everyone huddled at the start – it wasn’t until Terry arrived that we realised we were stood near the front of the 200 or so runners – we did a quick move to the other side of the pack! There was no pressure on either Lucy or myself to set off at a quick pace – Lucy hadn’t run for a month and I’m used to finishing in the latter stages of a race! We were out to have fun tonight!!

As we began running down the road, the whippets at the front disappeared into the evening (oh, to be able to run that fast!!) and we wondered what was in front of us …. little did we know! At the bottom of the hill we turned into the wood – there was that definite musty, earthy, ‘been raining all day’ smell and we began to encounter the first signs of mud. Poor Lucy was slipping and sliding everywhere as we negotiated our way along the narrow path through brambles and over exposed tree roots. Off the first path, we ran along a tiny section of tarmac and reached the first slope – this wouldn’t usually have been a problem, but due to the earlier monsoon, it was definitely a case of two steps up and one long slide back down – let the mud and fun commence!

As we ran through the wood, we could hear screams and laughing not too far in front of us – what now?! As we stomped through the mud, we arrived at the back of a queue of people waiting to cross a stream! Paul, Katie and Sarah were still waiting to cross – we realised there was no point worrying about how long this ‘race’ was going to take – we needed to enjoy ourselves! Actually, mile two took us 18.55 to complete (a long way from my 8.35 mile two at Sticker last week!!). Back to obstacle number one – this involved dropping into the stream, climbing onto a fallen tree and jumping off the other side into the stream again. Easy, surely?! Due to the rain, there was a bit was water flowing in the stream, but I did not expect the depth of water I encountered when I jumped off – it was a real Vicar of Dibley moment, as I sank into thigh deep mud and water – it was so deep and sticky that I couldn’t move - Lucy was no help, as she just climbed onto the tree laughing – my rescuer came in the shape of Jason Hulcoop, who pulled me out – cheers Lucy!!!!

Next was the near vertical mud slide – the only way down this was on your backside! And at the bottom … knee deep mud! Straight after this was a huge fallen tree trunk – luckily there were foot-holes cut to help you up (and two friendly, but very muddy, marshals)! After clambering onto the trunk, you had to crawl along it before jumping off the other side! By this stage I was covered in mud, so decided there was only one thing for it – I used my muddy fingers to draw war paint across my face – now I really felt the part!! This was fantastic fun!!

We then followed the track next to the river – it was very beautiful and the weather conditions were perfect by this time. As we entered St Clement village the church bells were ringing – what an idyllic setting! As we drank some water, we chatted to the marshal about the fantastic house next to the church, which he said was the old Vicarage, now a luxury guesthouse. It has the most amazing glass fronted kitchen – see what you miss, all you fast runners – when you go at my pace, you get time to admire the views!

The next part of the race snakes it way through the woods alongside the river, it goes up and down over several short hills, which many more tree roots to negotiate. We came across a few sets of steps, we began counting each time, knowing there were lots of to climb at some stage, but not yet, each time it was just a few – but we knew they were somewhere to come! As we ran through the woods we saw Helen running back – we had no idea how far in front she was, we just hoped it wasn’t too far!

Suddenly we came out of the woods and onto tarmac – Malpas and its beautiful riverside houses – again, at my pace, it was easy to admire them! As we approached a marshal, he directed us to the right. “Just a few steps to climb, ladies!” – Yeah, right ….. we looked up and got a full view – 118 steps!! We took a deep breath and began to climb – up and up and up! But then, as we reached the end of the steps, we realised we were not yet at the top and continued to climb! Eventually we reached the top and after running on some grassy tracks, we reached the 5 mile marker – really, is that all we have done??!! A little later a smiley marshal greeted us with “Here’s a nice downhill bit!” Yes, it was downhill, but it was steep, uneven and muddy – vital ingredients for an “ar*e over t*t” moment! It was actually pretty dark down there too – Lucy had joked earlier about bringing her head torch – maybe she should have!!??

Finally we came to the last set of fields – complete with cows! Due to these being cow fields the gateway was extremely muddy – people have lost trainers here, we were reliably informed by the marshals. In fact these fields were not only muddy, at one stage I looked down and said to Lucy “This is not mud, its cow s**t”!! Lovely!! As we headed slowly towards the final field (we were wet, muddy and knackered by this stage – all this laughing had tired us out!) Paul came into view – bugger, now we would have to speed up! We jogged up the hill of the final field towards Geraldine, who informed us she had been able to hear us talking and laughing for ages! Just the final stretch to the finish line (certainly not a sprint finish though!). Paul and Sarah cheered us over the finish line ….. we did it (and we weren’t last!). I was offered a cup of water – I requested a G&T and have been promised one next year – yippee, another reason to enter now!

The atmosphere in the club was fantastic, people were buzzing and covered in mud, although I didn’t see anyone else sporting war paint on their faces! Dan Alsop was first home for us in 4th place (how could anyone run this course in 44 minutes – full respect!) and Emma Murray was the first lady home. Well done to the 30 STARCies who ran/splashed/slid/walked their way around the course – it was the most fun I have had for a long time – 7 miles of laughter mixed with the odd swear word! Thanks Lucy for your company – mines a definite entry for next year – we certainly Met (and conquered) Our Max!!