I’d heard teasers about this run for weeks, and expectations had been built up with anticipation for a great, long, virgin run! I walked out on a group of students and drove for an hour or so south to Mae Wang – we’ve had outstations near here before – indeed we’ve had outstations closer to Chiang Mai before! A moment of doubt that I might have missed a sign, so I paused to check the map and finally made it to the A.
More teasers that the first 7 were great, then a beerstop, then another 5 to get back. We shall see! Spontaneous announcement that it was a free run – typical, I was planning on not drinking as it was a long drive back and the cops are already setting up drink check points. Oh well, it isn’t about paying or not.
We were released, and I set off speedwalking with Angry Inch. Out of the resort and right along the road. After 400m or so of tarmac, we hit a check – the choice of carrying on the road, or right onto a trail into the jungle. Easy one. No sooner had I seen the first paper, I hit the second check – again a 50/50 choice, both trails though. Brownie had gesticulated absentmindedly in a particular direction when he was talking about the beer stop, so I had a rough idea of the general direction, but I was wrong, and not for the last time!
Much of the run was spent overtaking the walkers – and simultaneously pondering to myself why I was bothering to run! The checks were so good that almost the whole pack was still more or less together by the beer stop. At least Brownie and Tasty weren’t on trail, so it was easier to keep up. I was pushing along as it was mostly all runnable trails. Greasy was leading for a while, until another circle, where I turned right, and I think it was Strangely Anal that went left. I was right for once, and clearly had a bit of ground over the pack. The trail turned left off the main trail onto a smaller parallel trail, and 50m later hit a circle where there was a trail off to the left. I ducked back over to the main trail and checked straight on (around 130m as the checks were LONG!). Nothing, so I cut cross country to the other trail, again nothing. I’d covered 2 trails, only really one option left. No idea why that took so long to find as people had gone down it – perhaps they weren’t expecting 150m checks!
Again I spent some time overtaking walkers. Up ahead a false trail. Today it seemed people had forgotten how to do false trails. Normally when you get to the False Trail, you can call back and let people know. Today, whoever found it treated it like a circle check, but let the others go to see it. More than once I past a possible alternative only to have to go back and find trail. Angry led for a while, and then Anyone took over. I chased after her and was finally back at the front finding trail to the left after another circle. Around the corner another circle, and I could only see one way to go, so I went 150m until I hit a main junction. Sadly no paper, and eventually a call from completely the opposite direction. Note to self, in the future, never set checks longer than 100m.
Coming back I caught up with Cumalot, and this time spent quite a while overtaking walkers, getting back into the mix at another false trail, where this time we left the decent trails we’d been on so far, and went onto a smaller trail. Shortly later the hares put a circle with shiggy in every direction. Anyone found a way through, and I am sure HRA would have stopped to pull up his gaiters.
We emerged and had a view across some scraggy cow pasture to a temple on the hill the other side. My internal compass was off and I thought we were looking at a different temple. So far we’d been running mostly on nicely shaded forest trails. Suddenly we were in the sun. This morning I’d been looking for my fleece, and complaining about the cold when stepping out of my nice shower. Now the heat hit back and I was starting to fade. Cartoon and Scooby were edging back to the front with Strangely Anal and Greasy. I’d been putting effort in the whole way around – I hadn’t stopped, and now I was feeling it. At next week’s ball breaker, I need to take it easier! I paused at a check, and milled around. An eternity later Scooby called it and I could see him way off in the distance as Cartoon set off after him.
I was still jogging, but spending more and more time looking at my watch – the first leg was supposed to be 7km, but I had 9.5km! I was slowing down. Finally we saw Tasty taking photos, and then another check before finally being allowed the beerstop. I grabbed a water, and took a break. The water didn’t go down well, but it did cool my temperature a little. The pack took off on the 2nd leg, I took a little longer to prepare myself… HRA, Graven and some others were making the decision to pull out. I was tempted, but eventually I set off onwards on trail, but after 100m or so, my legs were complaining and my mind listened to them. I hung off the back of the songthaew back to the A, and headed home!
All in all, a great first 5km! I love forest trails like that. The checks were clearly devilish as I wasn’t the only one with way more distance at the beer stop, and if I had a baht for every time I overtook a walker, it would cover my run fee!