In short: Fairweather but scenic marathon In full: I've been trying to write a few words about my experience at Rutland Water since I ran it last November (about six months ago) but keep getting sidetracked.
So here we go for the much abridged version. Fat Feet run good events but were troubled by the English weather during 2012, as were a whole heap of other running event organisers. The blurb on their web site seemed to lean towards fair or sunny conditions, without a need to invoke your inner hardened trail runner to complete the 26.2 mile course.
Sadly, as I said, 2012 was blemished by the weather. And as a result, there were several points of concern. Some people hadn't prepared for either the cold and/or wet - myself included. While the cold shouldn't have come as a surprise given the time of year, the wet did. Rain falls from above which can't be helped. Unfortunately, at Rutland Water, if there is heavy rainfall, it has nowhere to go and quickly starts pooling everywhere. This made for very cr*ppy terrain underfoot - mud without any semblance of traction, shallow standing water everywhere on both road and trail and occasionally, puddles so deep that you're almost knee deep when wading through.
If you opt to run this, be prepared for anything. At its heart, it is a trail marathon. There is some road but you are likely to get muddy and you are likely to be tested.
Around the 21 mile mark, I reached one of the last aid stations on the course to find a table with cups of water in disarray and the cadets who were volunteering at the event huddled in a nearby car for warmth. I felt quite angry at the time. I was out there in a miserable climate and I wanted some support. That was wrong, so very wrong but it was an involutary reaction. In hindsight, those guys had been out there for a long time too and were obviously sheltering away because it was freezing outside, the wet weather wasn't helping and at least, in my case, I was able to try and move faster to generate some warmth while they were obliged to stay near to the aid station. I'm glad that even huddled up in a car that these guys were still out there. And for the record, I am grateful to every single volunteer and spectator out on the course that day. Without you guys, these events wouldn't happen. Thanks for sticking it out, even when there is very little in the way of respite.
My only other qualm was the finish line. There was little in the way of shelter to either get dry, get warm or get changed. And after what was a fairly gruelling experience, no medal. It's petty, I know, but I like my little trinkets for completing these things. Should this event ever suffer these conditions again, there needs to be more thought put into looking after the finishers who are potentially soaked through to the bone and verging on hypothermia, even if this is only a cup of tea and a space blanket.
All of that said, I really enjoyed the Rutland Water Marathon. I'm sure I didn't say that until much later that night after having changed into some dry clothes, warmed myself through and travelled home. I think that both the organisers and the runners need to take something away for next time from this year's experience. I certainly intend to run Rutland again, possibly more than once. I'd like to run in better conditions, to enjoy the setting in the sunshine as I think it was intended. I would also like to run it again in dire conditions but go into it with that scenario in mind, take a waterproof and some trail shoes, ready to battle with anything that Rutland Water 2012 raised against me and then some.
Dear Rutland Water, I had an awesome experience. Massive thanks to Fat Feet and all of the volunteers who were probably out in the elements longer than any of the runners. To the weather, we'll meet again and next time, you'll have to throw more down from the heavens than a torrential apocoalypse to stop me in my tracks!!!
To anyone else out there, run in the warm and dry but don't forget to enjoy the cold and wet. Running is so much more fun when it's challenging and varied. Date of review: April 19, 2013