March March March

March March March – The Plan

The problem with doing a lot of running is that people mistake you for a runner. The main problem with this is that silly runners mistake you for an equally silly runner. They then suggest a great number of extremely stupid runs that you could do. The March March march is one of them. There are others.

The March March march is usually a rather daft 30-something mile walk from March to Cambridge, taking place sometime during the month of March 2016. So I thought, you know what, I’m going to run it instead. In April. Because I can. I was also planning to do the run with a work colleague, Patrick, who managed to injure himself, so this was originally postponed until October 2016, whereupon Patrick was still broken, so we have patiently waited until the last day of March 2017, which is a little less silly than April, but has the benefit of being a day we can both do, and gives us a nice excuse for taking holiday from work.

According to this website, the normal route to follow is something like this:

  • March Station 0
  • Wimblington 3
  • Doddington 5
  • Chatteris centre 9.5
  • Crafty Fox 11
  • Somersham 15
  • Earith 17.5
  • Willingham 22
  • Long Stanton 24.5
  • Oakington 26.5
  • Girton 28
  • Cambridge centre 31

It might be that I grew up in North Wales where all the place names are vaguely unpronouncable, but the place names on that list seem very quaint and I’m only surprised that I’m not walking through Hobbiton. I’m not sure if there’s anything actually in Doddington, but I’m delighted be to travelling through it. It’s very English in the sort of way that Llanymynech isn’t.

March March March – The Run

Friday 31st of March and March March March was finally go.

Having quashed Patrick’s suggestion of the 8.01 train to March, we caught the 9.01 train, which is a far more respectable time for such things.

We arrive in March and I started my magic GPS watch up, which would provide us with some handy navigation for the route, and off we set. Several kilometres later I discovered that my watch was not recording our movements. It turned out that it is possible to start the navigation mode of the watch without actually starting the exercise mode. That was disappointing, if only because I’m a nerd and wanted to see exactly what my heart rate was at each moment and what distance I had covered.

Patrick had added a slight complication to the route near Sainsbury’s in March, and the watch dutifully pointed us in the correct direction, which proved that, theoretically at least, it was a useful addition to the team. It would also dutifully beep every kilometre to let us know we were another kilometre into the 50+ kilometres, it would, unfortunately only do this from about 3.5km into the journey once I had realised that it wasn’t tracking our run.

We soon encountered Wimblington, which seemed like a much more expensive place to live than March, before going off road for a short stint ahead of entering the wonderfully named Doddington. We exited Doddington through Turf Fen Lane where we came across a farm that was clearly owned by a dickhead. We knew he was a dickhead because he watched us from his tractor as we followed the footpath between his fence and a ditch. We followed this footpath until we got to the point where he had knocked over his own fence, and deposited a massive pile of gravel in order to block the footpath. I jumped the ditch first, Patrick followed suit, getting his foot wet during his efforts. So much for public right of way.

We then skipped through a field before ending up on the Isle of Ely Way, which sounds much more pleasant than it is given that it is a busy main road. We took the opportunity to follow a bit of foothpath once we crossed the river, around the back of another farm. This footpath was knee high in nettles and not as much fun as one would have hoped. In the end we cut through part of the farm to avoid the path.

Muttering under our breaths we entered Chatteris, which we sensibly aimed to leave as quickly as possible. This was made more difficult by the fact that someone had deposited a bungalow in the middle of our footpath out. We found ourselves stuck in a cul-de-sac, which I am reliably informed is pronounced wrongly by all English speakers, and met a man who was initially rather cross we were walking in his street. When we told him of our plight he advised us to just knock on the bungalow door and then walk through their house. I suspect that he was not overly fond of his neighbours.

Instead we wandered around a couple of side-streets until we found a fence we could jump over. This left us at a roundabout next to a mothballed Tesco where we deviated onto the least stupid route along the road until we finally found the long straight trail that would take us out into the wilds. We approached civilisation again via a nature reserve near Somersham. It was beginning to become rather pleasant.

We made it without further incident all the way to Earith before a long hard slog along the river towards Aldreth before turning right onto “The Causeway.” Things were beginning to get a little less fun and a little more like hard work.

I had started eating and drinking more in an effort to fuel myself to keep up with Patrick. Patrick had been running phenomenally well for someone whose long runs were usually below half marathon distance.

Unfortunately, as we started approaching full marathon distance he started finding life a little more difficult. By the time we had passed Rampton after running a full marathon distance, with good chunks off road, in under five hours, Patrick began needing to walk. To be honest I was fairly knackered at this point and had been relying on sheer stubbornness to keep up with Patrick. Most normal people do not run marathons. Most people who run marathons do not run disorganised, marathon length trail runs, although I concede that a high proportion of people daft enough to do that are probably similarly daft enough to say “you know what would be a good idea, sticking another 12km on the end of this run.” Even then, usually they don’t volunteer to come for a run with me.

However, we were daft enough, and we continued into Histon. We were now in walk a bit jog a bit mode, which would continue with increasing “walk a bit” stints right up until we reached Cambridge station. This was punctuated only by a stop in a shop in Histon, where Patrick obtained water and a much needed sit down, and where I went in on a mission to find an ice cream, only to get waylaid by the excitement of finding a bottle of Orangina, and instead forgetting about the ice cream until after we had left the shop. Alas, the ice creams would have to wait until the next day. The priority once we wandered into Cambridge Station was beer. Beer was good.

My watch missed the first 3.5km of the run, but for those interested on the second part of the run according to my watch 50.5 km were navigated in 6 hours and 21 minutes, my average heart rate was 141 bpm and I burnt 4260 calories.

In total, using the timing on my watch, plus the posting of the first photo on Facebook, it seems like we ran our 54 kilometres in 6 hours and 40 minutes. That’s not too shabby.

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Style along the river past Earith
We ran past the halfway point in style.

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