The Liberty Loco

Yesterday I embarked on a running event with a difference. The event was organised by Peter Herridge who regularly records and uploads a mostly running flavoured podcast called Spikes.  The idea was to have a social run (not a race) from Ham Hill in Yeovil, Somerset to Lyme Regis, Dorset following the Liberty Trail. Peter had roughly measured the distance at about 28 miles. Now I’ve not run a marathon yet, let alone 28 trail miles so normally this wouldn’t of been an option for me. The difference with this event was that it was designed from the beginning to be as inclusive as possible. The run was supported by a large minibus (and Peter’s wife Gina) which met runners every 4 or 5 miles along the route. This luxury lifeline gave the ability to stash gear, fuel up on a great range of food and fluids, get first-aid and if required take a break from running. You were given the option of running as much or as little of the the route as you pleased. The emphasis given very much to enjoyment of the event rather than suffering miles in misery. It was a great idea and the execution of the plan (from a participants perspective) was flawless. A really great day.

I had no real fixed idea before the event started as to how far I’d run on the day. Training recently has been going well and I knew that 16 miles should be fairly comfortable depending on the terrain. On the day itself I was pleased to complete the first 6 out of 9 legs of the course back-to-back. The first few legs were very comfortable, the weather was relatively mild and I was just having a great time talking to the other participants about all sorts of subjects. I did find though as time passed I was increasingly pleased to see the bus at the end of each stage. At the point I reached the end of the 6th leg I’d covered approx 18.5 miles. although that last half mile included a fair bit of walking. A combination of undulating overgrown terrain, long grass, mud, nettles and wind had taken their toll and I was feeling pretty beaten and tired. Although breaks were regular and the steeper inclines were walked my legs were tired and each running step was giving me pain in my lower back and across my shoulders. I think others were also beginning to feel tired as the level of conversations in the group took a slight downward turn in frequency. I felt a little bit wimpy getting in the bus for a break at this point when others were carrying on forward but deep down I knew it was the best thing for me. The last thing I want at this point of my training is an injury and as evidenced by that last mile my body was in no fit state to push any further forward at a sensible pace. The two legs I skipped turned out to definitely be the most challenging in terms of route and weather so in the end I was glad I retired when I did.

The bus gave me the opportunity for some food and rest and a change into dry socks and shoes. It was also nice to have a bit of time for further conversation with Ade, Krister, Caroline and Gina without having to multi-task moving my legs at the same time! When the remaining runners turned up at the last checkpoint for us all to run the last 9th leg into Lyme Regis together I was amazed at how good I felt. Running was again very comfortable and I remarked at that point it was like having a new pair of legs. The last 3 or 4 miles were indeed very comfortable and over an absolutely beautiful stretch of wooded trail. The total distance covered by those who finished the entire route was in the end recorded as 31 Miles. I have to take my hat off to all the guys who achieved this distance. It was really great to gather on the final stretch of the seafront though and all finish the route together.

The thing that I enjoyed most about the day though was not the route, or the distance, pace or completion time but instead the people that I shared the experience with and the friendly and relaxed way in which the event was organised and took place. Several people had travelled quite some distance and racked up air-miles to take part in this event and it was obvious Peter and Gina had spent lots of time and energy preparing. However no roads had to be closed for the event, no entry fees exchanged hands and when we gathered in the pub at Lyme Regis afterwards no-one else in the town would of had any idea what the assembled people had just accomplished and I think that in itself is quite nice. We were a small eclectic mix of people of varying ages, from varying backgrounds and abilities who decided it was an event worth giving a go. No hype. No fuss. Just running. I’d like to thank all involved – Steve, Caroline, Simon, Krister, Craig, Gary, Andy, Simon, Ade, Dick, Ed and most importantly Peter and Gina for being such great company and making it such an enjoyable day (and if I’ve forgotten any names please let me know in the comments – my memory for names is rubbish). Hopefully I will have the pleasure of running with some of you again at some point in the future. Who knows…maybe the Liberty Loco will one day be run again!?

If I ever get the chance to run the Liberty Trail again, I’ll endeavour to take more pictures. The weather did not help and I’m sure in quite a few places masked what would have been amazing vistas but I have to admit to being a little lazy and only carried Robyn’s point-and-shoot for the first couple of legs and only got some quick snaps on my phone at the tail of the day. What little I did shoot I’ve shared here. If anybody else has any photos from the day that they don’t mind me including in this post please get in touch and I’ll add them in.

Edit: A few more Pics added sent from Gary and Peter. Thanks Gents

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