This is my fourth time for this event. The reasons I keep returning are the friendly runners, locals and organisers and the variety of routes. The race starts and ends at the same place and uses some of the same checkpoints, but the organisers seem to be able to vary the direction and routes between the checkpoints.
We drove down the day before and took the opportunity to look round Lincoln. Melanie had only visited it years ago and I had never been. I liked it, especially the area around the castle and cathedral. It was a cold day though and it was hard to spend too long outdoors.
Last Sunday on the Hardmoors Osmotherley marathon I had a bit of a cold. I also took quite a bit of skin off my heels. The cold seemed to be coming back on Friday and my heels were still a bit raw. I seriously wondered whether I could do Belvoir, but the plan was to strap up my heels with several layers and to see how my cold was on Saturday morning.
Saturday morning dawned, I strapped up my heels and they seemed to be okay. My cold also seemed a bit better. The run also had a option of a 15m alternative and the separation point was about 5m into the race so I thought that would give me the option of a bail out if I didn’t feel good.
The race organisers encouraged the runners to get to the front of the start line this year – a very welcome development as it can be a bit frustrating trying to get round walkers at the start. Soon after the start we had the first stretch of mud and this was an indication of some of what was to come. But we were lucky, some parts which could have been muddy were frozen. But it was a mixed bag, some were frozen, some not. Just before the end we reached a genuinely large mud pool and there was no alternative but to go straight through it. Melanie went first (she never used to like mud, how things have changed in the last year !) to cries of ‘Eugh’ from several 15m walkers who were watching and contemplating which way to go. Melanie had an slightly eventful race, she slipped early on (no damage) and later had her hat taken off by a bush that reached out and grabbed it .
When we reached the separation point of the 26m and 15m option I was feeling pretty good. The padding on my heels seemed to be working, my cold seemed much better. We were both feeling tired though as our legs had not recovered from the races last Sunday. But that wasn’t sufficient reason to do the 15m.
The route undulated around and across fields, through attractive villages and every 5m or so there was a checkpoint with plenty of home made food (but no pizza this year). At about 19m we went close to the lovely Belvoir Castle. At about 21m it started to snow, but it felt that we were almost back by then. I was pretty tired at this point and the run walk strategy we were employing was helping Melanie’s ITB which had been giving her some concern since the 14m point.
We got back to the Village Hall to the soup followed by bread and butter pudding. The proceeds of this race go to the local school and the schoolchildren seemed to have got much more involved in the event this year. There were pictures on the wall, little cards on the tables saying ‘Thank you for doing the Belvoir Challenge’ and every race completion certificate was a different drawing completed by a child. A nice touch.
Then it was a slow drive back to the snowfields of the North