15 February 2010

Epping Forest

In my effort to try to find a long run that is (a) not tedious, (b) off-road and (c) has a hill or two, I found myself making my way to Theydon Bois on Sunday. The plan was to run back home through Epping Forest and it looked like it was going to be a 16-miler - perfect. The forest is only a couple of miles wide, so no real navigation problems. So, off to Zone 6 of the tube, armed with my new trail shoes (to break in for the MdS), a litre of water, a Clif bar, my Blackberry and a map of the forest on a sheet of A4.

What happened next? My iPod refused to switch on at the start - pretty annoying. Within 5 minutes of starting the run it began to hail. I got a bit excited when I finally managed to find something that looked like Epping Forest though and set off into some fields.

Turns out there are no signposts in Epping Forest. Nor are there any nice big maps with "You are here" blobs on them. Quite a lot of roads criss-cross it but, whenever I emerged onto one, on no occasion was it obvious where the hell I was. Mobile reception is a bit patchy, so my Blackberry was of limited use, although at least it tended to confirm that I was heading in roughly the right direction - i.e. South - most of the time. I did see a nice tree though.

Expecting a run of 2.5 hours, maybe 3 hours tops, I ate my snack after about 1 hour and had finished my water by about 2 hours. At that point, I think I was somewhere near Walthamstow. I got to Whipps Cross Hospital and thought I was almost home. Wrong - still 7 miles to go from there. I experienced sense-of-humour failure. I had to run along main roads. I continued to experience sense-of-humour failure. I did get to see some kind of Olympic stadium preparation, though by that point I was beyond caring - I was a bit knackered, hungry and dehydrated by then. Finally, 3h43m later, I managed to make it home.

On the plus side, my trainers were OK and I ran (in the end) about 18 miles I think - further than I have for ages - with few ill effects. On the minus side, I was a bit late for dinner...

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