The Paras 10

Known as the ‘ultimate 10 miles,’ The Paras 10 was something I just had to try. If someone was to describe a chocolate bar as ‘the ultimate chocolate bar’ – I would want to try it. If somebody described a holiday as ‘the ultimate vacation’ – I would want to go. ‘Ultimate’ suggests the best of the best. Or, in the case of a 10 mile off-road race…The toughest of the toughest?

My Dad used to be in the Parachute regiment. I remember going to watch the Paras 10 race when I was younger and when I had no interest whatsoever and thinking ‘wow, those people are silly.’

Guess I’m silly now (always have been really) – because on September 6th I entered the race.

There is the option to do the TAB race (with a pack weighing 35lb) or just the run. I have never trained / ran with a pack before, so just running suits me fine… (excuses, excuses – maybe next year!)

My Grandparents (who unfortunately, I rarely see) and my parents both came to watch and support me. It was beautiful day – the perfect running conditions – a crisp freshness to the air and a glowing sun that beams so confidently, few clouds are brave enough to show.

I felt really good the morning of the race. 2 hours before I had my usual big bowl of porridge with honey and cinnamon and a mug of green tea. Then, 1 hour before I had a banana and sipped on a drink with added electrolytes.

The course was all off-road, mainly uphill with some absolute stinkers of hills – very, very steep. I hate to admit it sometimes (because it sounds like I’m bragging) but I actually love hills. I love the feeling of strength and power that they bring when you tackle them. They make me feel invincible.

I hung onto to the group of women in the lead, kept pushing, and enjoyed the gorgeous Northern countryside – rolling avocado green hills stretching further than the eye can recall.

It was a pretty quick pace, but I could see one woman WAY in front, in the distance, running not so far behind the leading men. ‘How the hell is she up there?’ I thought. She must be some kind of machine.

This woman was suddenly my inspiration and I wanted to catch her.

I gave it all I had to peel away from the group I was currently running with. Stride by stride, hill by hill, mud puddle by mud puddle, I edged closer and closer to the ‘super woman.’

Now on mile 8, feeling strong, I was almost with her!

WAIT…

IT’S NOT A HER.

IT’S A HIM.

IT’S A MAN.

I REPEAT.

IT IS A MAN.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

I couldn’t believe it. The slender, toned legs in the multi-coloured short shorts and the pony-tail swishing from side to side was the make-up of a forty-something male.

Was I annoyed for wasting all that energy catching up to the lady who isn’t even a lady? Good heavens, no! Thank you man-not-a-lady. You helped me secure my place as first female!

Hearing my Dad’s bellowing cheer amongst the crowds and seeing his watery eyes at the finish was a very special moment. Even the fact that I had entered made him very proud, but to win… Well, words can’t describe.

Run to get fitter, run to get faster, run to feel happier.

All the best,

Liv

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