So here we are, at the final post of three on the run. Should have missed out on the two previous dispatches I’ve made it ever so simple for you to navigate! For the first one click here and for the second, it’s here. Right, now that we’re all up to speed let’s trudge on with the mud and rain and a bit more mud and rain in case there wasn’t enough……. 

Now that a large portion of unforgiving-on-the-knees tarmac was out the way I was looking forward to getting onto the unforgiving-on-the-ankles trails. The lesser of the two evils. Why? Because on the trails you’re usually in quite a remote area, no urban hustle and bustle to disturb your run. 

The longing for the trails mentality was short lived. Actually very short lived. Very soon was I running through decent amounts of mud that very often were ankle deep. What did I expect?! Obviously this is how it would be if it was raining and had been on and off for the last few days. I thought to myself many times that I had not thought this through 100% but I was here so I might as well get on with it. Trying to be an ever optimist it occurred to me that if I had known I might have put the run of until it was dry. Would I ever have done it then? So I kept telling myself that I was glad to be here and now. 

Early signs of what I was in for.

Not long before I had to make a decision to a dilemma I found myself in, and neither option was ideal. This dilemma involved my shoes, both inside and out. Either they had to be heavy and muddy or very heavy and soaked. Where I could I went for the option of feeling like I was running in a swimming pool. The reasoning for that was that the mud was quite gritty and as soon as it started drying out slightly it also started sharing more and more characteristics with sandpaper. Chaffing is not good when you still have more than a marathon to go and you are heavily reliant on your feet being in the best possible shape to finish the task. So, squelch, squelchsquelch, would be my soundtrack for the next half a day. 

All of the horses in this field were under the only tree big enough to cover them from the rain.

That is what the next 50 kilometres would be like. I’ll spare going into detail about running from field to field to field. And that most of it was wheat (I think?) while on a single track muddy path in the relentless rain with the occasional spattering of a tiny village every once in a while. Wow, I’ve just described and knocked off near 50 kilometres in the space of two sentences. That truly was how monotonous it was for me on that day. 

That's just about how the whole day was!

There was a fair bit of drama about a quarter of the way through. I set up my camera to film a shot. I was in a rush so that I could put the camera away and get back into a rhythm. In my haste I placed the Joby on a wooden post. It stood. Time to shoot. Camera ready. Yes I have been asked what this set up was that I used. No not a GoPro. There’ll be a post this week on the filming gear. Near the end of the shot a combination of a wet post, bad placement, and gravity decided it should be nearer the wet, soggy ground. My gear obliged and disappeared into the dense waist high grass, nettles and other intertwined foliage. To rub it in further, it was the other side of the barbed-wire fence. Just my luck. I found it quite quickly, slightly shorter than arm’s length away. Just my luck. After stopping the recording I noticed that the wide angle lens had been dislodged from the grasp of its magnetic ring and was somewhere in the thicket. Just my luck. The lens is the diameter of a small-ish coin and the height of 5 of these small-ish coins so it would be hard to find. 

A still image taken from the footage taken during the fall.

After a few select cuss words, well, more like the cuss words rolled off my tongue without me having a chance to selectthe ones I used. I was massively irritated at my stupidity with trying to rush through it. No matter how quickly I tried to do all these little things I was still going to be out in the chilly rain and mud for the rest of the day so to take a few extra seconds making sure everything is set up properly is negligible with respect to time frame. I spent close on half an hour on my haunches looking for the lens. Ripping out nettles and leaning on the barbed wire fence with the cattle in the field looking on. I was starting to get really cold not burning calories and on the move. After this time, and having flattened and torn up the plant life to resemble what looked like the temporary resting place for a bear the previous evening, I conceded defeat and decided that this shall be the final resting place for my wide angle lens, I resumed moving forward. AAAARRRGH! I was pissed off. 

In my rush early in the morning I forgot to pack something to eat. I had a little bit of money on me so as soon as I passed a quaint little village/farm shop I thought I should pick up something to eat as my stomach was objecting to having only liquid fuel. Luckily, because while I was packing the food into my already bulging pack they shut up shop for the day. I was their last customer. 

I'm only in the photo to show that I was actually there!

Apart from in the towns and little villages there were very few people that I came across. The smarter people knew it was a rubbish day to be out and about in the countryside. However, while I was devouring my food and another electrolyte replacing drink under a large tree on the fence line of an even larger field I was staring across the adjacent field which many a sheep called home. There were many livestock fields now. On the far end of the sheep infested field I saw the silhouette of seven people standing around. I sat and watched for a while wondering what it was all about. Eventually they were moving and in my direction. I finished off and headed in their direction. When our paths crossed we had a bit of a chat. 

Brilliant names for their pigs.

They looked about retirement age with all the dressings and equipment for a bit of hiking. They too were doing St. Swithun’s Way but in the opposite direction and over three days. Under my reasoning they would finish early the following morning after what would be a good sleep at accommodation with a traditional English pub along the way. Luckily our paths crossed as they were point out to me where I should be going and what to avoid. Even my now soaked travel guide mentioned that this section could be tricky as you didn’t walk parallel with fence lines but rather cut across very large fields and had to keep an eagle eye out as to where the stile was on the other side of the field. 

I was happy when I reached Alton as I was afforded me the ability to run on some tarmac and pavement! I was equally unhappy as now I knew how long I still had should I make no errors. I focused on the tarmac and picked up the pace slightly as the going was easy under foot. The little victories. 

Jane Austen's house. It was along the route.

After Alton it was back to the farmlands with their trails and mud. This now had blended into what I was doing between Winchester and Alton and blurred into undistinguishable features. Once I started recognising various places from where I had previously done training runs I started counting down the kilometres one by one. 14 to go….. 13 to go…. At some stages I was even counting half kilometres, that’s how desperate I now was to finish. As you might have seem on thevideo I explained why I was now finishing at Farnham Castle instead of the busy intersection by the train station. As I was going down that final stretch with the castle walls at the end of the lane I felt relieved. I was done! In both senses of the word, done as in finished and done as in spent. A gruelling day of around 62 kilometres highlighted by mud and rain. It was time now to take these tired muscles and aching bones home to get clean, warm, and fed. Let’s not forget, a few beers too. 

Done! Finished and spent.

The afterthought on St. Swithun’s Way will follow in a few days if you’re keen for another read. Until then….