Grinning like a loon while bounding down twisting trails, the sea in the distance growing ever closer, I realised - there it was. My running mojo. It was BACK!
The half-marathon starts a bit like the 11K hill run - pale, dusty, rocky trails. But thanks to a start at 300m rather than sea level, gentler climbs and a spectacular view of the sea from both sides of the course, the half-marathon is an utterly different experience. And then as soon as you start the descent at 10K, the course transforms again - miles of beautiful trails through farms, much more green and inching ever closer to the sea - the photos (right) really don't do the course justice.
Having not run more than eight miles all year, and with creaky legs after the hill run, I was bricking it at the start of the half-marathon. I genuinely didn't know whether I'd make it round in one piece - or have my Challenge come to a premature end, carted off by the sweeper van (or ambulance).
But I took it super slow and steady (with yet more boring walking up the hills) and the half turned out to be an awesome morning that put a huge smile on my face - and reminded me why I run. Because the supporters in their minibus didn't get to enjoy the winding, exhilerating off-road descent with panoramic views along the coastline. That was a secret shared by the runners, runners who'd overcome aching legs to hoik themselves up 300 metres over the first 10K.
I was a lot slower than last time I did the Challenge, and I felt taunted by the memory of charging up those climbs and running all the way. Saturday's race was the perfect motivation to get that fitness back - and a reminder of the rewards of doing so.