I have been running since my initiation through school cross country back in the days when I was lucky enough to run in Windsor Great Park. This early years experience has meant that running and racing in the countryside was the reason I ran, and continue to do so. The Clarendon was one of the first trail races that I had come across that was not advertised a cross country. It appealed to my love of running away from traffic and Tarmac.
Stuart receiving his winner's prize from one of the south's best known TV presenters (can you guess who it is in her shades?) after winning the 2013 Micheldever to Sutton Scotney race.
I never thought I could manage a marathon so I watched with interest the early marathon only races. When the first half was organised I was eager to run the trail that incorporated my running routes and the fantastic solitary Palace of Clarendon. Despite taking abrief detour in this first run, I completed it as first veteran in 5th place overall. I was hooked, the whole experience of running this trail race was addictive. I have since raced nine more Clarendon half marathons with various levels of success. I am most proud of having always finished in the top 10, and I surprised myself finishing 5th as recently as 2013.
I no longer know the other competitors as I rarely race and runners leave the sport, but the Clarendon remains my all time favourite event.
The year I won the half was a mixture of elation and disappointment. Elation because that day was one of the few times in a race that the faster I ran the easier the distance became and I finished full of energy. Disappointment because I was unable to attend the presentation.
Pride before a fall
After I had finished, I jogged around Laverstock Down showing some visiting participants the wonderful views extolling how lucky I am to live in such great running territory, all of a sudden I lost my footing on the slippery chalk slope and fell awkwardly breaking my arm.
Anyone who has broken a bone will share the pain! The ambulance duly arrived and I carefully made my way to it. It was very busy and they were trying to protect my arm so reversed the ambulance to get closer to me, running over my foot in the process. What a disaster! I was loaded onto the stretcher in the back and a mask fitted to offer some pain relief. The ambulance started driving away over the bumpy surface of the field, the stretcher collapsed, my pain was still acute and they realised they hadn't actually mixed the pain killing drug, so all I had was air and no gas! The story didn't exactly end there, as even in A&E nothing ran smoothly.
Needless to say that winning and pride is all very well, but on that day pride certainly arrived before the fall and ever since winning has been something to play down. One broken bone is more than enough for anyone.
You are unlikely to get a PB on the Clarendon. But running can be enjoyed without always chasing PBs, and the Clarendon half marathon has helped me realise this. Long may this event continue.