For those that follow me already on social media, some would say I have a healthy obsession with a certain race event organisation. This is probably due to the large amount of race events organised by these guys that I have attended since starting out on my trail running adventures.
So, no argument from me on that front. So much so, I thought it would be totally fitting to write my first blog about my time, thus far with the incredible trail running family and community that is Maverick Race.
My first event with this team of legends was back in February 2017 at the season opener in Amberley. I had only been running for six months prior, so I decided to sign up for the short distance out of the three on offer. The middle and long were totally out of my reach and I was also very anxious and was certainly contemplating if I should run the short distance at all, if I am honest.
Being a total novice and trail running virgin, I had no idea what to expect and right up to the point the cow bell rang and stepping across the start line. I was ready to pack up, turn around and head off home.
Everyone and I mean everyone, looked like they had been in this game for a long time and were all seasoned professionals. I was well out of my depth.
What had I got myself into?
It turned out, that as soon as I started running and heading out from the start line, up towards the top of the first hill and my first introduction to the South Downs Way, that I quickly realised I was doing something really special, with some really special people.
I am not for one moment going to say the run was easy (it wouldn’t be a maverick race if it was). It wasn’t, it hurt and at times I thought my lungs were going to burst out of my chest. But I managed to get around and ended up collecting my very first finishers medal and race beer.
I couldn’t wait to sign up for their next race and the one after that. Yes, I had been bitten by the trail running bug, but more to the point I was now part of a family of runners that was to take me on an incredible journey and I didn’t even know it.
2017 passed and during that time I ran a total of six races with Maverick Race and half a dozen races with other trail running organisations.
It was now time to book those race slots in for 2018.
I was in a position where my fitness had improved, or so I thought and therefore I decided to up my game and go for the middle-distance option. These proved challenging to start with. Longer distances than I was used to, meaning more hills to tackle even on the flattest of ground. Who would have thought you could find a hill that tested your ability in the New Forest. Trust me, when I say there are a few.
Towards the latter part of 2018, I was starting to become a familiar face with the race event team and organisers. And with the power of Instagram, I was also able to start putting familiar faces and names to those who I followed. I just needed to pluck up some courage and go and say hello.
As the months passed, friendships started to be made.
The trail running community is something special. I don’t know of many other situations that you can be in, where strangers can become friends in an instant.
Throughout the year I was starting to push myself harder and further in distance and my running ability was improving. Before I knew it 2018 was coming to an end and it was time to think about where Maverick Race could take me in my running journey for 2019.
Turning the dial up a notch. I jumped in with both feet and booked the long-distance routes.
What I didn’t plan for 2019 was to also take part in the X Series. Believe it or not, given all the mileage I was getting under foot, I still felt that these races were well beyond my capability. However, in for a penny in for a pound, I decided to have a stab at Exmoor.
This race sealed the deal and before I knew it, I was registered for both the Peaks and the almighty Snowdon. The fear and anxiety of running both the distance and terrain that these types of events offer, started to waiver. It didn’t get easier (it never does) but with every step I took, I found I was getting stronger and stronger, not just physically but also mentally.
Rightly so, all three of these events now hold a special place in my heart for all the right reasons. They all pushed me to the limit and then some more. Something I had not experienced in a very long time.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”
2019 Maverick race season finished in early December and I had the privilege of running the season Dark Series closer with my six-year-old Grandson. Being in a position to be able to introduce him to the trail running family and community I have come to love, was the icing on the cake for me and I could not have wished for a better way to end the season.
2020 season is already booked up and in the race calendar and I am so looking forward to what this new chapter will bring. One thing is for certain. I intend to push myself even further.
But before I sign off, I would just like to say thank you to everyone that I have had the privilege to meet, run and share the adventure with along the way.
What a blast it has been so far. Twenty nine and counting.
And finally, special thanks are in order to Ben, Justin , the whole of the Maverick Trail Division team and the army of volunteers for making all this possible.