We had 50mph winds, pouring rain, hailstones and the occasional burst of sunshine to accompany us on a pretty challenging trail marathon course somewhere South of Salisbury. It didn’t feel like a race, more like an adventure (and a flipping epic one at that.) I’m a running geek and I love organised races but the Larmer is simply something else – it had a real community feel, a bit like you get at an ultra –
very inclusive and supportive. I ran the marathon, but the organisers have a whole weekend of events with lots of different distances so there is something there for everyone. Be warned, the marathon is pretty hard – it has about 3,000ft of incline and some very technical trail sections – if you don’t like hills and getting muddy this probably isn’t for you.However, if you like breath-taking views, epic banter and adventure then check it out. It’s very inclusive and the cut offs are generous so you could probably walk most of the course if you needed to. For me, it was the perfect race and I loved every second of it!
I left the house at 5:20am and still arrived late for the start after getting lost in the wilderness trying to find the start. The race instructions give quite clear directions but obviously I relied on the sat nav to get there (despite the repeated notes advising us not to do this) – one day I will plan properly for a race! There were quite a few trees down already due to the wind and the start was delayed about 5 mins which gave me the time to grab my number and deposit my car keys at the check-in desk. I made a hasty decision not to wear a pack and just rely on the aid stations which I instantly regretted when I saw how kitted out everyone else was. I bumped into Allie and Julius from Bad Boy Running at the start line and had some good banter which settled my nerves a little. I’d run almost 30 miles at the Batty Bimble the week before and my foot had randomly swollen up to the size of my head for a few days afterward. It was fine now but I could still feel it hurting a little and I was worried I wouldn’t complete the race. The first 10k (ish) is a loop and then we join the 20 mile race so I had a good opportunity to bail out then if things went wrong. I was making excuses already and the race hadn’t even started!
The race briefing was funny, Andy the Race Director is hilarious and brilliant – he called out some of the runners from the crowd, including my personal favourite a guy called Ben who was running the whole marathon in a crocheted gimp suit! I never really found out why but fair play to him, that’s a pretty legendary performance. Before I knew it we were off at a gentle trot along a bit of tarmac that quickly broke out into compact trails and then some of the more fun muddy stuff. I cannot describe the views
and the scenery and pictures quite simply don’t do it justice. The scenery is incredible and on several occasions I simply had to stop and take it all in, it’s an amazing setting for a race and I felt pretty lucky to be able to run it. I kept my pace pretty slow and found it fairly easy for the first 3 or 4 miles. I wasn’t setting any records and deliberately walking the hills (I couldn’t have run them
even if I’d wanted to!) My foot started to hurt a bit at about 6 miles and I was struggling until Julius very kindly gave me a Tunnocks Caramel, Aldi sports drinks and some painkillers which sorted me right out! I gritted my teeth and decided I was going to keep going – who knows when I’d get the opportunity to run somewhere like this again – time to toughen up and make the most of it! I wasn’t setting any records but I managed to keep going.
The whole race is underpinned by Andy’s sense of humour and the signs scattered around the course really made me smile (I won’t ruin the jokes for you but if I tell you that there was a guy dressed as the Grim Reaper dancing about on one of the hardest hill climbs then you’ll get the general gist!)
Signage was excellent and there seemed to be more aids stations than anyone could possibly need which meant my lack of pack was no problem at all. Loads of food, gels and water throughout and we even bumped into Andy a couple of times out on the course. There aren’t many Race Directors that are so visible at an event and this is clearly why the race is so well looked after – he was there on the course experiencing it with us and spurring us on with general banter and good natured abuse where necessary! The 20 mile aid station was called the ‘Love Station’ – with the usual aid station staples but supplemented with beer, schnapps, music and free hugs for everyone.
There’s a bit of a hill just before the end and then a 400m flat run to the finish – no sprint finish for me as I was knackered! We were then given a voucher for a free hot meal (great selection of food) and everyone made their way into the bar area to chat about the day – the camaraderie was great and I got chatting to a couple of people which really adds to the whole experience.
The last point to mention is the medal – it is quite simply AWESOME – brilliant design and definitely the best medal I own – a fantastic memento of a fantastic experience.
I’ll be back next year – who else is coming?!