I Like Your Stile
It's been a few years since I booked myself into a race organised by the LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association). Back in 2012 when I was in my late trend setting twenties, I joined the LDWA for an annual fee of £13 (same in 2016) which gave a small discount on LDWA challenge events and 3 copies of their self published magazine 'Strider' (to be said in a Samwise Gamgee accent) per year.
The LDWA to me is at the very core of outdoor walking and running, usually using community halls or churches in rural parts of the country as a hub for races, the audience and participants are usually older, experienced and love a good spread. They've been here long before gluten free protein balls, compression socks and 'Born to Run' was written and will continue to organise affordable friendly events while the next endlessly marketed fitness secret is rehashed.
I wanted to keep the next few months local as weekends in Brighton and Marlborough had been expensive, so Farthingstone Foot Fest was chosen, a 26 mile, self navigated figure of 8 around the Northamptonshire countryside. Arriving 15 minutes before the race it was a quick registration and off we set, leaving Miriam behind to a "I'll be done half 1ish".
The first loop travelled east out of Farthingstone and clockwise to Weedon Bec taking up a lot of the Grand Union Canal, these are usually flat and fast routes along tow paths, a few 'ey ups' to passers by and the 'Rosie and Jim' theme tune and it was back into the countryside again, Pattishall, Cold Higham, Litchborough and back into Farthingstone. A quick toilet break, more ginger nuts then out again, 15 miles down. 11 miles to go.
Running began to slow down as more obstacles appeared, a feature of this race was the amount of stiles you had to climb over, 64 in total, there was even a triple stile which got particular recognition, I'm not sure UNESCO know about it.
The route travelled north to Everdon and Newnham then across to Badby skirting the outside of the woods and crossing from the Nene way to the Knightly Way into Preston Capes and continuing back into Farthingstone at roughly 3pm, 6 hours 7 minutes. Apologies first of all went to Miriam who spent that time walking around a village you could throw a wellie over. Then it was in for some pasta and the one thing I'd been looking forward too. A pint of beer. My watch says I covered 45km, nearly 28 miles.
Races can quite tedious the more stopping and starting so it'd be good to head back next year and see if I can knock a clear hour of the time. I would urge anyone if you want to start running, take a look at the challenge events on the LDWA site, there was an 11 mile and 15 mile option on Saturday. You never know, there might be a race perfect for you on your doorstep.
Thank you again to all the people that took part and those that helped out along the way.