Chiltern Wonderland 50 was the third of the Centurion Running Grand Slam of 50s that I’d entered for 2018.
I had heard reports that this was a great race, lovely countryside and scenery, but I had really run on much of it. The first few miles from Goring down to Whitchurch I’d covered a few times and the last part coming back into Goring from Woodcote I vaguely remembered from the Autumn 100…
Race day was a 20 odd minute drive from home to Goring, where I parked in one of the local carparks close by and then the short walk to race HQ at Goring village hall.
Normal routine ensued – kit check (where I had left my backup headtorch on all night and had no spare battery – luckily I managed to buy one from the Centurion store onsite), race number, race briefing and then down to the river to start.
I’d also spotted a few friends and said hello, had a brief chat and wished them good luck etc.
The race started and we were off down the narrow tow path by the Thames – this goes on for a couple of miles before you’re into the woods and climbing to higher ground. I know this area pretty well, so was just chugging along till we hit the top of Whitchurch Hill – at which point we turned left and it all became new to me.
The first 15-20 miles went okay, but I quickly found out that 15-20 is my limit when I’ve not really run anything longer than about 10 miles for the previous 10 weeks… Things started to get painful.
I pushed on, not really enjoying myself, not being able to take in the scenery, running where I could, but taking a lot of walking breaks – it was a slog really. My mind wasn’t in it (neither was my body), but I knew I had to just grind it out, for the Grand Slam.
I don’t recall much for the next 20 or so miles, but when we got to Grims Ditch the surrounds started to look familiar and I perked up a bit, knowing it was mostly done.
I knew I was close to the cut-offs – I’d gotten a decent buffer by 20 miles but had been eating into it since. The last few miles saw me speed up a little and get back to a bit of a shuffle. I knew it was going to be tight, and in the end I finished in 12:39 – only 21 mins inside the cutoff, and resolving to do more training for the next race – the Wendover Woods 50.