I knew the rain was a bit heavy when it carried stones down the track, which smacked into my calves, bounced off my ankles and then tumbled down the hill ahead of me and hundreds of other runners. Maybe not the best of conditions for a race, but I’m from Yorkshire, me, and I’d paid for it so I was bloomin’ well going to get my money’s worth, or die trying.
The Chevin Chase is the annual Boxing Day trail run around Otley Chevin, six or seven miles, depending how far you go to avoid puddles, mud or stones. It’s a fantastic event, open to all, whether you’re an Olympian Brownlee or, well, a slowcoach like me. Fancy dress is optional, but rude not to when so many others are going to the trouble. I was one of three Kirkstall Harrierettes, dressed in the purple of Kirkstall Harriers with an added flourish of feather trim and a Santa hat. Karen, Alyson and I ran together, much to the amusement of the handful of spectators who braved the deluge to cheer us on.
Within a nanosecond of stepping out of the car, it felt like someone had hurled a bucket of water at from a great height. I was soaked, the feather trim was dripping, but I wasn’t alone, everyone was saturated. These were unprecedented rains that had already flooded Cumbria, the north west and were working their way across the Pennines to cause flooding and chaos.
That water just kept on coming. Tracks became streams, roads became rivers, Otley Chevin became a lake. As those in front of me headed to the banks of the deep puddles, I was so wet I reckoned that running straight through them was easier and less likely to lead to a tumble than scrambling up the sides or hopping over walls. Besides, I’d lost all feeling in my feet and my legs were chafed by the sopping scratchy feathers and knocks from stones.
This is was my fourth Chevin Chase, the wettest and wildest so far, but definitely the most fun, I definitely got my money’s worth. Now all I need is for my shoes to dry out in time for the next race!