My first event of the year was the Perpetual Motion looped event - as many 10k loops around the wilds of Wiltshire as you fancied, within 3 or 6 hours according to taste.
The build up to the event had been ominous. The preceding days were very cold and wet, and I was beginning to think it would be good training for the Spine Race. Those of us who'd travelled down to Bradford-on-Avon the night before met up for dinner. Kerry dropped by, hotfoot from marking the course (or coldfoot, as it turned out) to report that it was very muddy indeed. I mentally revised my goal down from 5 loops to 4.
While it was still cold the next morning, the sun had come out, and stayed out. Suddenly it was all looking a bit more manageable. At 9am a motley collection of runners, walkers and dogs were assembled in the car park of the Merkins Farm Cafe. (Kerry objects to the name, for reasons which I had to look up). A short race briefing, and we were on our way.
The course was almost all over open fields, with the 15th century Great Chalfield Manor as the main landmark. A combination of stubble, stiles and sticky mud meant that it was not a route that suited long-legged running. However a fair bit of walking, bunching at the stiles, and the beautiful weather meant that it was one of the most sociable events I've ever done. I learnt about everything from bouncy castle manufacturing to pet pharmaceuticals (hello Lesley and Helen), and thoroughly enjoyed myself. This despite doing a swan dive into the mud from one of the stiles, which meant I spent much of the day disguised as Swamp Thing.
More committed runners knocked off an impressive five loops, but I banked my four very happily, and finished with a big smile on my face. The only disappointment was missing last orders at Merkins by a hair.