The Mighty Deerstalker
After knocking myself out on a low branch at the same event 2 years ago, then in my semi-blurred state misunderstanding a marshal point and going up the second mountain again, you'd be forgiven for thinking that i might not be interested in repeating the same event. Especially as that last mistake added another 3 mountainous miles onto the run, then when we finally got in, collapsed into the bar seats, blood ran down my face when i took my deerstalker hat off. "yeah maybe" was the answer!
This year was different. Better headtorch to start with. Also having crawled over the strava info, i was absolutely sure where we went wrong and that it wasn't going to happen twice. No sir. Not this time. Just like with Marathon races where we all too soon forget the months of preparation and the pain of the final miles of the race and the sacrifices we make....we all too soon sign up again!
So there we were, Salty Dickinson, Anthony Smith and myself. In tweed. Expectations high. On the start line of the 2017 Deerstalker event. The typical rat-race event warm up ensued with lots of arm pumps, fast running on the spot, high knees and so on. We were in wave 3 so were still starting in daylight with was good as you get to 'appreciate' all the other fancy dress. Then its game on! a fast mile over trail and path and you are at the first river crossing. Time to get wet! Out of that, and the climb starts. The race is essentially over 2 mountains, and this was the first of the climbs. At one point Anthony spies some guys dressed as sailors and as we run past, overtaking them going uphill naturally, he starts singing an ancient sea-chanty. In full. Then we're into the woods and its now getting seriously steep and dark too. Lights are on. Time to remind yourself of the roots everywhere and try to get adjusted to the light levels. Back out of the woods and its properly dark now. We veer onto an MTB track and it gets fast moving. Time to speed up and make some progress, take a few people. I can't see Anthony anymore, but its ok as i can hear him up ahead in the distance. I press on. Then its the laser disco. I'd seen this last year so it wasn't a surprise, but imagine running in some woods on the side of a mountain at night then you come across a disco, complete with smoke and lasers! Next is the first steep descent and you see so many people using their ass to get down. Its one way of course, but i prefer staying on my feet.
The half-way point is marked by a 100 meter river crossing. I say 'crossing', but its more like wading thigh-high up-stream in the river Tweed. The bottom is full of largish rocks that move about when you put your foot on them so staying upright at all costs is way, even if you slow down. Out the other side and we're climbing straight away up the second mountain. This one soon enough reaches a point of scrambling, having to use hands as well to lever ourselves up.
The rest is uneventful. Its back down towards the town, then back to basecamp and beers with live music....but what an atmosphere! This event has it all. Its got the 'silly' factor. Its got the challenge, its got the reward for your efforts. Its a long way to go, but hell its worth it!! Bring on 2018 🙂