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Photo credit: Dave Heeley

Over and round the Wrekin by Dave Heeley

05-Feb-15

Last updated: 20-Aug-18

By Dave Heeley

Saturday morning, 31st January 2015, at 7.30, the Wrekin was bleak, wet and windy, our intention this morning to do a run-walk training session. Tony suggested we did a 6-mile run, within the Wrekin, off road but flat and with good under foot for me. So we thought no packs; we would just have a slightly faster run to start, and then walk the Wrekin.

Yes, flat and good under foot for me were Tony’s words!

The first five minutes were interesting, mud up to my ankles; puddles which I swear had fish in, tree roots and low branches, along with the odd rock or two and a few slight slopes and rises! That slight I would say they resembled the Grand Canyon! We climbed a stile, I was wet, freezing and definitely moaning, and then we hit a good running surface, according to Tony!

If this is flat I wouldn’t like to play him at snooker, inclines down, and inclines up! I would say more like a small hill, and then we ran out of the good running surface. And to stop me getting my feet wet and muddy -who is kidding who, my trainers now weighed 10 lbs heavier and there were fish in them too-, to avoid any more mud he said “we’ll go up there”. Up where? I thought, then hearing Dave Lewis’s reply and the way he said it made me think, “Up there Tony, you sure?”

So we started “up there”. Slightly steep, covered in snow with feet sliding everywhere but I was reassured this was the best option. We went up, the hill got steeper, we carried on up, clambering over tree trunks, fighting the snow, then it went steeper and Tony let go of my connecting running cord.
Our feet were sliding every which way now and Tony said, “you’re on your own now, not good this hill for a blind man! I’ll just shout left or right”. I was also on all fours, it made for better climbing, is the sand in the desert going to be this cold?

My hands were now freezing, our fast run was meant to be short so we took no top coats, no gloves, out and back I was told, and now I find myself impersonating a mountain goat, in fact a rope, hammer and crampons might have been more in keeping. But we kept going up.

I was frightened to ask how much further, but I did and the reply came first from Tony “only 100 yards to go”, then from Dave Lewis, “only 200 yards to go”, which one failed maths at school? With the pair of them behind me, shouting instructions through laughter, I veered left, then right but kept going up and finally there was a hilltop, cold, wet, freezing, legs burning but was I glad to feel the wind at the brow. Low and behold we had reached the summit of the Wrekin, the hard way!

We did have a laugh at our intended 50-minute supposed run, and then we made our way down the other side of the Wrekin. Snow in places, the different terrain under foot once again determining whether we walked fast or jogged a mile or so down, reaching the car, the intention: packs on and then we were going to walk back up again.

How things changed this morning! Instead of turning left to the car, we decided to turn right and do a faster run around the Wrekin on the road. After the first couple hundred yards or so we warmed up instantly! A hill we normally came down, we went up, pretty quick, heart rate up, even sweat on the brow and there was definitely not too much chatter! Until the top.

We ran our normal route round the Wrekin the opposite way, it still brings a smile when I think of the saying, “Round the Wrekin”, wet and slippy at times, faster and after some three hours of run/walk, it was nice to get to the car and sit having a drink in the warmth, lovely as it is to get out there training, it’s always nice when you finish.

The day hadn’t completely finished, the pain in my legs, body and hands was made worse by a visit to the Baggies, where we lost three nil, still, as I say, keep the faith and we’ll all get there in the end.

Make a donation to Dave's Marathon des Sables desert challenge here.

Review Over and round the Wrekin by Dave Heeley

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