Race #3 – Windsor

So, it doesn’t get much closer for us – Windsor is a stone’s throw from base – so you’d think we’d get there on time, there’d be no queues and it would all be nice and smooth?

Not so much – the traffic wasn’t great and the mile walk to the start? Well – let’s call it a good warm up.

The awesome team (TM) joined 4,00o others for a lunchtime ‘kickoff’ this time. Porridge had to be postponed. Routines were confused. Some had had double breakfast or early lunch. Some had brought extra gels in their activity belts.

I felt nervous. This was always going to be the hardest psychologically. The third one – hot off the heels of the second one. People were tired. Fortunately, no one knew the profile of the course, or I suspect few (including me) would have turned up!

Windsor (apparently) is notorious. Basically, you know flat bits? well, Windsor doesn’t have any. Flat wasn’t part of the plans for the Great Park, when they errrr built it 100’s of years ago. They thought it would be funny to put loads of long hills in. So they did. Unknown to us.

The start line was great – lots of crowds lining the Great Walk. When I managed to get a few of them cheering and being ‘non-Windsor’ like – it was even better. It starts with a run up to the Copper Horse at the very top of the hill. From there, it’s a couple of circuits of the beautiful (but did I mention, hilly?) Great Park.

My pacemaker Mr Carpenter had agreed not to be quite as ‘ambitious’ as the previous race and we started together, a little slower. The Lycra one and the Machine were ahead. Mr Gel Johnson and Mrs Carpenter were in our rear view mirrors – but battling.

The hills hurt. A lot. I’m not quite sure how, but I managed to overcome them – I felt good and I was making the most of it. I even managed to get the crowd ‘whooping’ a couple more times, which felt good for confidence. Scrawling “MARK” on the front of my running top was also a big help. People like to cheer on people with real names so it seems.

Once again, family and friends were out in support. Children were high fiving and they’ll never know how much it means – we got to see and hear them twice – which was great.

The race finishes down that hill from the Copper Horse. You can see the finish – it’s literally in front of you. But – you can’t touch it… and basically, it doesn’t get any closer, despite running as fast as you can for about 12 minutes. I set another new personal best – and was literally over the moon. I was so focused, I didn’t even see or hear Simon, The Machine cheering me down the last 400m. (He’d finished a couple of hours earlier ;-)).

Once again, everyone did themselves proud. Mr Johnson excelled himself by overcoming the hills, (how about that for an awesome photo?!) and in one of the highlights of this challenge, various children (who we own) accompanied him down the hill to the finish for the last mile – giving him the lift he needed. Superb.

Three quarters of the way there… one to go – Henley. Next Sunday.

What a month.