Spring Challenge.

Just after my birthday, on a very hot Saturday in April hubby, some of my friends and I went off to Ranscombe Farm, a nature reserve close by Rochester.

We had to get up extra early as the running event we were taking part in started at 8am and it was at least a 40 minute drive there and once there we needed to get ready, listen to the safety talk and be out running at the start.

Sunlight through the fog







This event was a lapped event that was 3.75 miles per lap, participants could complete as many laps as they liked as long as the time limit on the course was met.The morning was foggy to say the least but, the few days that lead up to the Saturday has been very warm, summer climate really.  The weather reports reported much the same for the weekend (how I felt for those at Brighton!) It was hard to believe it was going to be hot as there was a chill in the air and you could not see much in front of you during the first few hours.

Safety talk done and away we went, the fog I quickly realised had disguised some killer steps and hills.  During the first lap I came to the quick realisation that this was just like Beachy Head, oh how my heart sank.  I was not going to enjoy it I thought. I caught up with some other participants and got chatting as we plodded up a very steep hill, a father and son duo who wanted to make it their aim to complete marathons together.  They helped me mentally through that first lap.

First lap completed a quick comfort break and a drink and I decided to start the second lap.  The father and son duo joined me, I felt comforted and supported.

One of the ploughed fields







The fog during the second lap lifted and the full beauty of the place was revealed.  Wow just wow, the Medway was in the distance a ribbon of silver in the sun.  Bluebells dotted around the reserve with yellow primroses to compliment them.  The fields were lush and green and oast houses popped up behind trees.  Trees were blossoming and the hills oh the hills steep inclines and descents across ploughed fields and forest.

Oast Houses



The first part of the course fog had cleared.










After the second lap I felt better about things, yes it was tough but I like to think that my running journey has moved on since October and I could stop at the end of the lap and call it a day.

After each lap there was an aid station and the supportive crew and other participants on hand with advice or a pat on the back.  Giving great shouts as people came in or enthusiasm for those going back out. The aid station had cake, nuts, drink and crisps perfect!

The sun really started to beat down during the second lap the heat was on.  Third lap was on and completed as was the forth but it was getting harder.  My ankle had started to hurt on the inclines and steps, a new pain that I had not encountered before.

River Medway on the return back to base.







At the start of the fifth lap I massaged my ankle and set off, my trusted companions had joined me once again.  I was in two minds doing the fifth lap, at this point I knew I had gone over the half marathon distance and so closer to a marathon.  Getting a marathon was tempting at this point but I wanted to see how lap five went.

Sweet was dripping down my face as I climbed the first incline, heart beating so fast I thought I was going to be ill.  Across the grassy field I felt ok again but the ploughed field that followed seemed to go on forever It felt harder than the previous times.

Deep down I knew this was going to be my last lap, I had time to complete a marathon but the sun was getting the better of me and if the sun didn’t get me the hills were.  Rounding back to the start/finish line I felt great, I had completed nearly 19 miles at this point, legs burning but I mentally felt good.  Beachy Head was firmly put in its place!

At the finish I thanked my supportive duo, rang the bell, had a long cold drink and a sit down.

The other participants congratulated me and we chatted whilst I waited for hubby and friends to come in.

My 2 friends completed a marathon and hubby completed an ultra (mad dogs and english men go out in the midday sun).

All done







As always with these events the medal was awesome as well as the goody bag.  Never disappointed.

The medal








Would I do another one at Ranscombe?  Erm well yes I have already booked the next four events there and I will go in with a plan now I know what to expect.

Information about Ranscombe can be found here.  Well worth a visit to enjoy the wildlife, you don’t have to run round!




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