Whoops, that didn't exactly go to plan.
The morning started well enough as I had a lift to the start with ultra running lunatic Vicky Skelton which stopped me being late (although the news that the run was actually close to 29miles wasn't very welcome).
I started faster than I wanted to, standing at the front is never a good thing for me. Almost immediately there were 3 of us leading the way following the races miniscule signs. We soon settled into a rhythm as I dropped off the pace going uphill and then up the ground on the flat and descending. We were very rarely close together, but always in sight of each other.
The first lap which was the course for the 10k race was actually 11.8k and took 58mins. Then after 8.5miles we had our first course marking error and got sent down a road which cost us over 7mins. Even at this early stage though we were so far ahead of the rest that nobody passed us while we were off course.
All went well from here until just past 14miles. There were now only 2 of us and I was actually thinking that 'presuming' I didn't blow up there was a chance of the win. The lad leading the race was still running away from me as I power walked uphill, but I would then chip away at the lead on the flatter and downhill sections. As we ran through Lynton I could see him about 100m ahead and I was still feeling fine. Then I missed an arrow and ran straight past a side road on the right. I found myself on the main road down to Lynmouth and I could no longer see my target - balls!!!! I pushed on wondering if he'd just stretched out his lead, but surely this main road running wasn't right. I reached the first of the switchbacks on the descent and looked across Lynmouth just in time to see somebody running through the town. My language wasn't pretty. I'd just have to run down into the town and pick up the course again, hopefully I'd be able to claw back some time.
Into Lynmouth I ran across the bridge where I'd spotted the runner then headed out to the road out of town where there was a 'Caution Runners' sign and some red/white tape. Bonus, I must be back on course, time to start power walking up that 25% gradient. After almost 7mins of climbing I looked across to my left and finally saw an arrow. The Bloody Thing Was Pointing DOWN The Hill!!!!!!!!!!! I was now going around the course backwards.
I stopped, stood, pondered and swore to myself. Then I turned around and decided to follow the arrows. I'd now got two choices, I could re-trace my steps and try to find where I'd gone wrong or give the race up as a bad job and just follow the signs back to Hunters Inn. Did I really want to be running over 30miles? especially when it would be over as a 'race'. Nope!!!
So that was it really. I strolled up the hills, including the Killer Mile and jogged the rest of the run course. Finally I got back to the pub after 3h30m of running and sat down to my free Chilli & Rice before waiting for the 'proper' runners to appear. Vicky finished 1st woman and 4th overall just 18mins behind the winner, he was the chap that had been leading for almost the whole of the race.
Onto tomorrow then I guess, that'll be interesting. I can't lie, my legs are feeling a wee bit the worse for wear at the moment. I could do with a last minute massage.
Here's the route I ended up taking. 23.7 miles and over 11000ft of climbing. Ouch!!!!!