I signed up for this race in a fit of hill-racing enthusiasm during what is now known as the “pre-Carnethy-5-in-2020” era and was full of regret and nerves on the journey there.

I needn’t have worried. Mum got us off to a great start, taking an outstanding line through the gate and navigating the oozing mud with accuracy while others faltered. Car parked, we set off down the hill to the race start.

The first four miles passed in a blur of complacency: “This is a trail race not a hill race. Great! You can write a race report about how the English are wimps!” said my brain, “Oh my goodness, how quaint, the man is helping us ford a small stream!”

The next mile contained two thirds of the race climb, through a slippery boulder field, into the hail, with the wind all around and a waterfall flowing upwards. Game on, jacket on.

Four miles of sloppy downhill next, at a friendly enough gradient for some fun. As usual, picked a random woman ahead and chased her down, with no thought of saving any energy for once I’d left her for dust. Energy expended, I crashed into a puddle and she overtook once more. No harm done, just some impressive surface wounds, a face full covered in enough mud to cause a stir at the finish line. A nasty little hill back to the village green, past a cheering Tom who had finished HOURS earlier and the race was over.

Grimy faced and blue lipped, I stumbled back to cheer on Mum and Tyne-Bridge Turncoat (and former Westie) Claire who appeared close together not long after.

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