‘Your doing what in the dark!!’

Yep the inevitable lines I hear when I inform people of my next stupid idea, it has been some time since I have wrote anything on here. To be honest not much has taken place worthy of writing, plans have been made and my walking has turned into running.
But today we will talk about Escape from Meriden, the plan simple in it’s brilliance, 120 people would assemble at the center of Meriden (near Coventry) and spend the next 24hrs wandering in all directions across the UK. No check points and limited support were the order of the day with medals at 30, 60 and 90 miles. But this would not be Garmin miles or actual physical miles run or walked it would be ‘as the crow flies’ which is on average 10 miles more ( so 30 miles would be more like 40 miles).

As some of you are aware, I have been running consistently now for many months, my distances have increased to around 16 miles in one go and 32 miles over a week period  and so I was pretty confident I could cover the 30 miles needed to not get a spoon.

To start I was doing this on my own but my brother had decided to join me on another adventure. The route planning took some time, trying to figure a straight route that avoided main roads was not easy and there were 5 conceptions before the final route was decided upon.

It would be a mix of A-roads and footpaths, A-roads were unavoidable and would need some care and eagle eyes in order to avoid any danger.

Kit consisted of my running gear, thermal running leggings, thermal top, winter running top along with my Alpkit balance waterproof and windproof jacket. A small running pack containing 2ltr water bladder and various snacks to see me through the night finished off this little get up. With planed towns and villages on the way we had visions of bacon for breakfast and cafes to help sustain the distance.

So with great excitement we descended upon Meriden to register in the local Methodist hall (thanks for the tea and sweets), others had taken up the offer of the free orange boiler suites making this an odd looking crowd. 
As we stood at the start, this group began to look more alien than human, with various lights adorning us it made for quite a spectacle.

The time ticked down and we were off, with a mad start of people running into each other before all making their way off in every directions, if it could have been filmed I imagine it would resemble wacky races.

We walked at a good 4mph pace to start, trotting down the B4104 and taking a left to join the Heart of England way, now im used to running at night time or in the dark but there is something about the world by torch light that makes it all the more interesting. there is no noise, no birds and very few cars. everything  looks spooky and and more un-nerving, eyes peer out of the bushes and then disappear. At one field I had turned to look around and was met by about 50 pairs of eyes peering back (wed assumed sheep, more hoped it was sheep).

On we plod, crossing the M6, Through Fillongey and up to Arly skirting Nuneaton before dropping onto the canal near Manchetter. Signs here proclaimed this the possible site of Bodocia’s last battle ( we were fighting our own battle at the moment), taking the canal seemed a reasonable idea at the time, flat and more or less straight it seemed an easy option, in reality the temperature was something I had never before known.

There was a small headwind that did not help, hands were quickly becoming cold, to the point it was hard to move them, even with my thermal gloves they struggled to keep warm. We opted to drop off the canal for a little while to stop and eat.

looking like a pair of vagrants we sat in a door way to a factory and ate some quick snacks before again wandering  down into Atherstone, here people began to emerged getting ready to go to or coming home from work.

There began a long stretch of small villages and towns, looking spooky in their absence of people, we joked about this being a post apocalyptic walk through abandoned towns as we took minor B-roads. cars were limited but even at 3am there were those odd ones racing around the country side making some areas more dangerous than others.

At Whittington the plan would have been to come off the canal and wander up towards Donisthorpe, by this point however, my Brother and myself began to struggle, knees began to pain and the cold was taking its toll. We decided to walk into Polesworth and call it day, in actual fact we ended up walking into Tamworth in order to find a hot drink and call in our ride home.

We had covered some 23 miles normal walking miles but hadn’t even managed to 30 crow miles, we would of needed another 15miles in order to get near the 30miles.

I wasn’t disappointed I had been awake since 11am the previous day, my brother even longer, wed walked 23miles in total navigating in the dark and at times were footpaths had been re-routed by farmers or new housing estates.

What I learned

  • things look scarier in the dark
  • im better at running than walking long distance (this i felt was my undoing, I know I can run greater distance with no niggling pains than I can walk).
  • you can plan and plan routes until the cows come home, but in reality until your on the ground its very different.
  • new gloves are needed, all my other kit performed well. I’ve had a few suggestions now but i think pocket hand warmers may come in handy next time.
  • there may be a slight route change in future to follow either a west or north west route, it sounds daft but it looks easier???
  • there are limited hot drink places in the early hours so some kind of heating implement may be needed next.

Yes I am going to sign up next year, not mad just committed, ps i think ill be on my own next time hehe.


Published by bimblingmike

a hiker, a runner and bearded man

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