Easter 50 Windsor UK April 1, 2023
As illustrated by the gigantic inflatable bunny, we find ourselves at the start line of the Easter Challenge 50 at Windsor Racecourse in England. It was one of these trips I wasn't sure would happen after all the travel debacle of the recent past and crazy schedule we managed to set for ourselves. However, here we are under overcast skies hoping the floods and mad rain from the previous day are done.
We have parked on the tarmac since the grassy fields are extremely muddy and it's a short walk walk to the start area (I bet it won't feel short at the end). Picking up bibs and timing passes is easy as usual, Action Challenge are very organized. It's so lovely having a cup of tea and a biscuit before we start, it makes everything all kinds of better. As always the volunteers, organizers and participants are magic.
Soon it's time to gather in the start area, Dave the announcer is looking fabulous and tells us the course had to be slightly detoured due to flooding and will now be 60k (it's April 1st).
We set off through the edge of Windsor passing the gorgeous and somewhat high Thames. And thus begins the mud.
At some point you just accept that it will be in your shoes for the rest of the day.
Runnymede rest stop 12.5 km 2:00
We reach the first rest stop where I change my socks and we enjoy some awesome pastries and juice. The wind picks up here making me worry about incoming rain.
Dorney Reach rest stop 42 km 8:10
Not to worry, the cold lake we have to wade across (in my clean dry socks) soon takes my mind off weather.
At least my feet are clean, oh wait no here's more mud. Shortly after this section, we climb a hill which is now a running river. I don't seem to have any pictures so my sense of humour was probably lacking.
Then we enter the Windsor Castle grounds. Still gorgeous....still Kubrikian. We collectively decide to quit at the 25 km point over this section. My hips hate me.
There's always time for a Windsor Castle selfie.
Windsor Racecourse midway point 25 km 4:50
Oh right we're quitting here, aren't we? We're fucking not. Some food and painkillers (and Coke) really work miracles during a long event. So many Action Challenge people said lovely things to us when we reached halfway and it completely changes my perspective. I think Kev is secretly very happy with the change of plans.
Off we go back out on the course only turning to the left over the river this time. I've never been so happy to know there's 25 km ahead.
We follow the rail line for quite a bit which is fascinating. The path is pretty good over this stretch with the exception of a flooded tunnel which Kev compares to the Barkley prison.
Super excited to see the 30 km marker, but why is it in a bush.
More art. We are under the M40 a few times around here. This is also the longest stretch between aid stations, with the next one being at 42 km, 17 kms out from midway. We concentrate on getting to the next km marker. Then the next one.
Someone found a new friend.
We start looking forward to a few things - the 40 km point, the final rest stop (42 km marathon!), and seeing the Oakley Court in daylight. We did the riverside section of this course, only in the opposite direction and at night during the Thames Path 100k. It was one of my favourite bits.
First cool thing - 40 kms! Also we are back in the mud.
Dorney Reach rest stop 42 km 8:10
2 kms of mud later, we approach the final rest area and this one has pic 'n' mix! I totally forgot about that. Not only that, it has wonderful fresh popcorn in little bags - an absolute treat. This stop also has a fab inside area with seats, I suspect we got it quite muddy.
Despite the always present aftermath of yesterday's flooding we have not had a single of drop of rain today. It is actually quite lovely. Oh Rocky! There we go, Oakley Court finally spotted. We stayed over there for the Chiltern 50 and I can tell you it is as fantastic as it looks. I can also tell you it currently costs a fortune. (Note - no conservatory, it was transported back to Transylvania).
The last stretch is only 8 km but it's full of interesting things and increasingly painful feet. And more mud.
I really wanted to explore this building, but at some point this just has to be over and adding time on feet is not appealing.
One of many locks we pass.
Oh this could be interesting. No, they don't really care about us. Apparently all the swans belong to the King, formerly to the Queen. Okay.
We are finally entering the Racecourse for the third and final time - YES! I don't remember the last time I was in so much pain yet so happy to have achieved something.
We had something to eat at the end (lots of choices, veggie options too) and after stiffening up and getting even more muddy crossing the field I can tell you the walk back to the car was AN ORDEAL.
We dragged ourselves back to the apartment coated in mud, I stood in the shower on my muddy blisters for what felt like hours trying to scrape mud off clothes. The best part was we recovered enough to visit the truly magnificent pub across the road before it closed - winning!