Monday, 5 March 2012

Preview: The Mighty Deerstalker

Looming large in the calendar is my first foray into fell racing, obstacle courses, fancy dress running and off-road night running. All at once.

Having cheerfully agreed to participate by virtue of my charity, Venture Trust, fielding a team as its first ever sponsored event, I sort-of neglected to actually investigate what The Mighty Deerstalker would entail. I looked at the cheerful photos on the website and the jovial, tweed-and-moustaches marketing and thought it would be a laugh. I am probably right. However, what I hadn’t really anticipated is that this is going to be quite a hefty physical challenge, too...

Let’s start with the distance. It’s ‘10k (and the rest)’, which some runners have apparently clocked on their GPS watches as being closer to 10 miles than 10 kilometres. I haven’t run 10 miles yet this year, at all, not even on lovely smooth tarmac. Who knows what will happen if I try to do that distance up and down small mountains.

Next is the climbing. I was in pretty good shape for hillrunning when I ran the SF Marathon, but that was in July and at the end of a finely-tuned tapering period. Right now I’m huffing and puffing just to get onto a kerb. This is a slight exaggeration, but concerning nonetheless. My plan of action is to just stick it out on the way up and be outrageously reckless on the way down.

Also the darkness. The race is scheduled to start at 5.30pm, on the understanding that the organisers might delay the start if it isn’t dark enough(!). Mandatory equipment includes a headtorch! Predicted finish time is between 90 minutes and FOUR HOURS. Oh my.

Then there are the obstacles. As I think they change every year and seem to be kept under wraps, they’re more-or-less a complete unknown and thus there’s barely any point in me panicking about them. Suffice to say I shall panic later.

Um, is that bit optional?

There’s the fancy dress. Despite having run numerous races for charity and having run a lot of events just for fun, I’ve only ever ventured into fancy dress running twice, and both were only 5k (and flat!). This time I shall have the interesting experience of attempting whatever madness lies ahead dressed in an as-yet-undetermined outfit of charity shop finery. Which is even more worrying as apparently this course is covered in water crossings and other muddy mayhem – presumably the kind of stuff that would weigh down your average fancy dress accoutrement to the point of sluggish disaster.

Let's be clear, here:

Lastly there is the competition, which is comprised of friends and colleagues (and 3000 other people). Colleagues who are outdoorsy, adventurous, competitive, and have fewer hernias than me. Friends who may be out to prove a point. Then there’s me, who last raced in October at the Loch Ness Marathon, barely managed a 7 mile run so far this year, and with a frankly suicidal racing instinct that could end in spectacular fashion one way or another.

It’s going to be an interesting one.

You can (and totally should) sponsor team Venture Trust for the Mighty Deerstalker at Every penny will go towards helping disadvantaged young people make positive changes in their lives, like getting a job, or back to school, or just having the confidence to aspire to a better future. Much more detail on

In wider news, I think I am slowly healing. I’m experiencing less pain while running – sometimes none at all, and gradually rebuilding my decimated fitness. At this rate I might even manage to hobble around the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of May. No promises, though...

Happy running!


2012 to date: miles run - 58.75, miles biked: 15.4, metres swum: 750

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