• Tail Runner = Trail Runner #DT40

Tail Runner = Trail Runner #DT40

DT40 trail marathon didn’t go to plan. It was a run of 2 parts.

My last race before this was the #UGB200 miler a month before recovery had gone well and my energy levels were starting to get back to normal, but not quite there yet when it comes to the climbing and any efforts on elevation, but I really wanted to do this race even though I am missing out on the ‘Slam’ medal as I had to miss the #DT30 race due to injury. It is not everyday you will do a marathon distance race and not get a medal.

Part 1: 8miles 10.2/mile 1243ft going well… twisted ankle.

The DT40 route is different to the other races, there is less technical trail running, but it has its own challenges, for me this year was the packed trail descents and areas of limestone paving that protrudes from the ground. I enjoyed the start of this race, it climbs steeply on the road, not anything like the DT20 and Fremington Edge but in it own way as tough…pacing is crucial.

I hesitated, slipped and twisted my left ankle.

There was around 50mins where I gave up then walked/hobbled back towards a CP to find it only the sweepers coming and I had to go the other way. I was pleasantly surprised how many other runners asked how I was and even stopped to check if I was ok, so thanks to everyone who asked how I was #3. I had taken off my number and screwed it up and stuffed it in my pocket… however the ‘Tail Runner’ David got me going again, chatting ,walking and talking. So by the time I got back to the point where I had stopped I got going again…back in the race. My number was pinned back on and watch switched back on.
I really didn’t want a DNF and wanted the T-shirt, I’ve had a DNF this year and just didn’t want another, I couldn’t be doing with those after race thoughts of having not finished. I thought of my friend at my running club Steve Rhodes (Hyde Park Harriers) battling through TDS a few weeks earlier and imagined what he would have told me… better get on with it. I was with the Tail runner and the course route markings were disappearing in front of my eyes, way at the back so I tentatively got slowly running again.

Part 2: 18.4miles 12:07/mile 1830ft started right from the back from the back working my way back up the field taking it steady and a sprint finish! Managed to get back 44places.

As I had decided not to now ‘race’, I still wanted to get back up the field and I slowly began to catch people up, 1, 2, 3 , 4 chatting to folk depending on how they were doing, I’m not normally this far back in the field and was great to see how hard everybody was trying…some amazing efforts out there in the race and I was really impressed by this, not going win, but racing and pushing themselves, for some it was the longest they had ever run, others were really suffering with cramp and just trying to make it to the next CP, this at a point in the race clock where the winner was crossing the line and taking the DT Series Grandslam title.. amazing all round.
I took it easy through the boggy bit before the last big climb, then enjoyed the climb as going is much easier than down when feeling an ankle. It was very boggy this year, although I did manage to keep my shoe on this time, last year I lost one to a bog!
I did the High Cam road climb quicker than last year when I was racing the full route, I felt good and the distance and climbing wasn’t a problem, I was catching other runners up and making good progress, I pushed on to the ‘Summit’ sign and through next few miles which feels like a detour, because you catch a glimpse of Semer Water before you turn off through the single track ups and downs. The decline to Semer Water through fields is a section not to take lightly, ploughed and deep tracks to go over and some muddy sections through trees and the odd stream to cross.
I was up for a sprint to the line and a group of 3 runners ahead of me were in my sights now…who am I kidding…I was racing, my sprint for the line from the bridge with the marshal saying “Save it for when you get nearer” fell on deaf ears for me… I just wanted to finish well.
My overall running time 5:06.15 … and overall race finish time 5:50:19 (104th) not my quickest marathon but satisfying to finish, followed by a paddle in Semer water in the cold water to help my ankle and wash my very muddy trail shoes. The customary Nav4 soup went down a treat and post race debrief with friends.
Matt Armstrong

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