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The day started at 07:30, Pewsey is only a 20 minute drive but I needed to arrive early to help with the car parking of my fellow competitors, all 669 of them. This does seem to be a remarkably well known event throughout the running world and I was soon to find out why. The terminator takes place in the beautiful vale of Pewsey which is surrounded by hills, big steep hills.
With all my duties out the way the time came for my mental preparation for the big race! This being only my second competitive race it was quite daunting, starting in a crowd of so many runners. The race begins just outside race HQ, I was eager to get going, after a few words from Rob, the horn sounded the start. After running on the road for about 5 minutes I began to get into a nice rhythm, but that was all about to change as we crossed into the start of the off road. The first couple of miles consists of fields and some slippery and muddy gateways which was good preparation for what was about to come! After the fields the course then tracks alongside the very picturesque Kennet Avon canal where you can get into a good rhythm, but need to take care when passing others as one false step can land you in the canal!
The swamp came upon me sooner than I was expecting, it was approached through a reed bed, with shouts of “stay between the tape” and “sooner your in sooner your out” it was all a bit of a muddy blur and scramble to get through. The mud or should I say sludge reached waist level and very hard to wade through, this coupled with the steady hill out of the swamp made this a real test early on. From the swamp the trail traces around a number of fields with a welcome water station that helped wash some of the mud out of my mouth and ears from my encounter in the swamp.
Soon after leaving the fields you enter the gully and as I found it just gets harder from here on in! The gully stretches up to the foot of what can only be described as a grass wall about 150 meters high. After this the route takes in some stunning scenery overlooking the surrounding countryside and encompassing another 2 “grass walls”. The last of these extremely steep hills is known as the “sting in the tail”. You approach the sting in the tail with a view of the last mile into Pewsey thinking it’s just a pleasant stroll back to the finish, how wrong can one be. On coming to what you think is the start of the “stroll” home the course take an evil twist to the left and up around Pewsey Vale White horse, a final ultimate pain before the mile or so run home!
Much of the decent from the White Horse can be taken on your bottom, it is very steep and slippery! Once on the flat I thought I would up the pace for the “sprint” home, and after passing the farm on my right a terrible realisation dawned upon me there was one test left a trough full of sludge! Yes the marshals direct you to the entrance of a trough about 60 meters long full of sludge up to mid-thigh and in order maintain balance you are forced to use the bank recently cleared of stinging nettles – ouch. Once out you have a final run along the edge of a field and then a rather refreshing dip in the Avon. Once through the river it’s a short run to the big inflatable finish, a welcome site.
Back in hall cup of tea and delicious homemade cake in hand, time to reflect, with my hands tingling (form the stinging nettles) and head buzzing I realized it was a fantastic (and fantastically hard) experience. The marshals did a fantastic job always a smile on their face with a kind word of encouragement.