The Isle of Wight. A small island of the Southern coast of England. Picturesque.
A popular holiday destination and when the weather is good is stunningly beautiful. The picture postcard looks are there for all to see.
However, when the weather turns it’s not quite as nice. The wind gusts off the sea and temperatures can plummet and the rain can chill you quicker than you can believe.
In April 2016 this is exactly what happened. 3 hours of glorious sunshine, perfect running conditions and then, almost without warning, the weather changed. Freezing rain, hail stones and gales force winds battered the island. It only lasted for a couple of hours but the damage was done. Fields that had been firm underfoot became glutinous mud traps, trails became mud slides and runner after runner limped into aid stations with blisters. For some this was the beginning of the end and the island would continue to take its toll throughout the night as temperatures dropped.
For me this was my first trail run, my first Ultra and the first time I’d experienced blisters from running. When the bad weather hit I was between aid stations and the two hours I spent trudging through muddy fields with wet feet was the time it all went wrong for me. The blisters had formed and despite fantastic work from the St John Ambulance crews and regardless of treatment and padding, I spent the next 15 hours running and then walking on very sore feet. Ironically it was my knee that took me out of the race, just too many stairs up and down the cliffs.
After 21 hours I could no longer generate body heat and with sore feet and a knee I couldn’t put pressure on I made the decision to withdraw with only 6 miles to go.
Now in 2017 I’ll be going back to finish what I started. I know the course now, I know when to push and when to be careful and hold back. Nicer weather would be nice but this time I will learn from my mistakes and complete the island.