I don’t race very often. In fact, I haven’t raced once this year. I convince myself I’m too busy, whether that be with family life, work or studying for exams, I’m not sure. Maybe I am too busy, or maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m scared of actually entering races, scared that everyone there is going to be better than me, scared that I’ll let myself down.
I don’t know, but I definitely should enter more events as I really enjoy them, I should make time so I can no longer use that as my excuse.
So, with that in mind, I’m not quite sure what lead me to enter what looks like one of the hardest races in England, the Red Bull Steeplechase. Aside from the fact I rarely race, this one is 226 miles away, and is essentially a fell race, and is potentially 21 miles long.
But for some reason, once I’d read that entries were open, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
500 runners start the race and a third of the field gets eliminated In a knockout format at various checkpoints along the route. These are actual steeples in villages across the Peak District. This goes on until only 40 runners remain to battle out the final 3 miles.
Along the way, there’s 1400m (yep, that’s meters) of climbing to take care of and I’ve no idea how much descent. The first hill is apparently a 49% incline and goes for almost half a mile.
It all sounded fine until the hills didn’t it?
The scenery promises to be breathtaking (if the hills don’t get there first) and the hospitality is meant to be even better.
So the idea of this race buzzed around my mind all day. I floated the idea of actually doing it with my wife who jokingly (I think) replied with, “don’t get injured.” This sounded like an invitation I couldn’t turn down, I could worry about logistics of getting there at a later date.
5 minutes later and my screen was thanking me for entering and suddenly, the nerves and doubts started creeping in.
As I read more and more about this race, the fear I was experiencing was gradually turning to abject terror. However, the one over-riding factor in all these reviews was the sheer joy felt by each and every athlete involved. Even if they only made it as far as the first checkpoint, they had taken away an unforgettable experience and promised to be back again.
So here I am, 105 days away from the start line, about to draft a training plan. Where the hell do I begin?
I’ve managed to talk a friend into it which helps, we always said we’d race together one day. I kind of envisaged it would be a parkrun. Unfortunately, he lives about a hundred miles away, so we can’t train together. He’s quicker than me over 5k too so I’ve got a lot to do to get the better of him.
He’s talking about being happy with reaching checkpoint 2 – that’s 12 miles.
My stupidity/blind optimism dictates I won’t be satisfied unless I make the top 30!
Without doubt, I have never been as excited for a race as I am about this one. Bring on the Steeplechase!