As I sit in my nice warm home, sipping on a lager reflecting on the Gut Buster, my very final event for the year and as a consequence reflecting on 2012. What a year this has been, I am pleased.
This morning I prepped for the Gut Buster with my capsule for the final day of the course of anti-biotics to help me get over a niggly chest infection / dose of man flu that had kicked in three weeks ago, and refused to go away. Thankfully I was, for the most part, better now, but a week ago in the grips of fever I had very much doubted I would be running the Gut Buster. Thankfully I popped the last capsule.
At registration I had expected cold and perhaps a bit of overcast weather, but it transpired the day was super cold, very grey and wet. The to be expected mud was said to be very bad, and the course tough. I had opted for the longer 10 mile course, a multi-terrain route. Immediately my concern was staying warm, my feet were frozen courtesy of the Five Fingers and while I had my Vivo bare foots and warm socks with me, I didn’t relish the prospect of fishing these out of a mud bath during the run. The mud fishing would be a consequence of elastic laces, oh well, I was an off road running novice learning the hard way.
Cassidy, my eldest, had volunteered for marshalling but wisely took the offered refuge with her sister and mother in the car. A wise decision that I certainly envied while I queued up for the toilet, my guilt at dragging everyone from their warm beds and into the cold during the peak of yuletide winter was really stinging. But they had all emerged out into the grey morning to support me – love that family of mine!
The run start was seemingly low key with a lot of runners keen to be on their way for warmth, if nothing else. Obviously the type of runner prepared to slog through mud and ice cold water across the countryside is not the typical summer fun jogger. The standard of running was understandably high from the outset.
The course was very hard work. Normal pathways were relegated to muddy quagmires (scarily close to barb fences in places), fields became long, squelching, energy sapping hauls and puddles became ice cold ponds. The fjord across a small country road which typically would have been ankle to calf deep flowed strongly and, at a guess, seemed to be at least knee deep. All the runners, myself included, opted for the safer path to the right rather than ploughing straight through. Fighting mud wIth a complete lack of grip underfoot with Vibrams (or any other shoe too, I think) I found the going tough and more than once felt like I was going to kiss my gluteus medius on the way down. Actually I seemed to be more keen to kiss my gluteus than other competitors, with arms and legs flailing more than once. The odd stretch of tar was very well received, although at one stage on the road I was seized with a bit of a coughing fit.
The 10 mile run was tough, very tough and hilly and muddy, muddy, oh so muddy. I was pleased when I crossed the line to find my loyal wife standing freezing, waiting for me (the girls sheltered in the car). So would I do the event again? Too soon to agree to that, but it certainly is an education in off-road running, and certainly closes the year. But did I have a good time? Yes I did, that was very tough running well outside my normal comfort zone and something I had sorely underestimated. I recommend the event. It is great to run around a landmark like Roman Silchester. I am sure The GutBuster will be even bigger next year, the third year for the event, although I believe it was fully subscribed this year. Excellent value for money with a friendly atmosphere and a nice finishers medal that makes it all worthwhile!
Total Time 1h30’35