Weald Park Half Marathon - 2:21 - Windy, Hilly & oh so Muddy!

Weald Park Half Marathon - 2:21 - Windy, Hilly & oh so Muddy!

Hi all!!!

So this morning I completed the most gruelling run to date, and possibly one the most difficult I will ever do. My Garmin link below will show the constant hills in the elevation graph but it will not be able to convey the difficult in running in mud up to my ankles.

So back to the beginning...

I woke up at 5:30am this morning and had porridge and toast for breakfast. I double and triple checked that I had everything I needed and left at 8am to go to Weald Park. My Dad kindly offered to go with me and cheer lead!

When we arrived we saw that it was very muddy, but I tried telling myself that surely the course can't be like this part of the park, oh how wrong I was!

I registered, got my gear on and warmed up. My start time was 9:33 which was when the HM was to start, the 10km started before us and the full marathon started afterwards.

The HM was split up into six 3.51km laps.

On the start line I got a tap on my shoulder and was asked my someone if I was Aftab. I was confused for a moment but then Janda introduced himself! I knew I wasn't the only C25Ker on the run because Janda gave me the idea to sign up for this HM. We ran the first lap together and had a nice chat along the way. When we realised how difficult the lap was Janda asked why we had let ourselves into this. I reminded him that he inspired me to sign up for this so I blamed him! After the first lap I slowed down because I knew that a fast time was impossible so I wanted to make sure I got to the end. Janda pulled away and I hope to hear from him in HU to see how well he did.

The lap format meant that the faster guys started to lap me after several laps, it was inspiring to see them tackle the conditions at such a fast pace. I had to be sensible and not try to up my pace when they came along because it would have finished me to try and keep up with them!

So the lap:

The first km was on grass, which was slightly muddy in certain parts. It had a slight hill at the beginning and at 0.5km it went downhill steeply before bearing to the right and running along a lake. This part was fairly muddy and was running along a hill that was going up from left to right.

The second km was a mixture of grass, trail and pure mud. The first 0.5km was uphill on grass, but had a pure mud section before, the hill had a gain of 40m per Garmin, which lap after lap became more difficult. We then entered the forest and ran along a trail which was up and down slightly. The trail ended and then we ran along mud, parts of it were up to my ankle and it was very difficult to keep my balance at times. I slipped many times but just managed to keep my balance.

The third km continued in mud and then muddy grass. It included a steep drop on pure mud followed by an equally steep incline. This was difficult to get through and it was interesting to see how everyone found a way to get through it. I decided to take fast baby steps on the way down because I slipped with every step. On the way up I took two big strides and tried to land on the slightly drier parts to avoid slipping back down.The end of this section was downhill and ended up where the first km finished.

The last 0.5km was up a very muddy hill and it was hard to get up it without the foot sliding back on a few strides. The last 100m was downhill towards the end of the lap, where you could get water, jelly babies and a wristband to remind yourself how many laps you completed.

I ran the first 4 laps at a reasonable lap and then my legs lost all energy on the first hill. I had to walk up both the hills in laps 5 & 6.

My Dad took a few photo's on his phone along the route.He isn't home yet but when he is I will upload them.

I think today I felt truly exhausted, at lap 5 I was hungry, my legs were almost gone and I started to feel light headed. I dug in and finished and felt very happy when I tamed the course.

I had myself a nap when I got home (after a shower where I had to scrub a layer of mud off my legs!), and am tired now but the head isn't all fuzzy like it was when I finished.

My 3 year-old daughter has claimed by finishing medal and has told me that she will look after it for Papa!

I would like to thank everyone for all the kind words during my training and for the solidarity runs that were organised on the FB page. Also if you have got this far down the page thanks again!

Here is a link to the run:



Here is a link to a few photos of the run:


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52 Replies

  • Wow ! I think you got a fab time in those conditions, sounds really tough. I'm thinking of doing an off-road HM next February but I'm pretty sure I'll finish last :-)

    Really well done, you should be proud.

  • Thanks. Next time I'll pick an easier course!

  • Crikey Aftab that route would be enough to put most runners off doing HM's for good. Well done on completing it and in a good time too. I have to say I'm surprised at the conditions you were expected to run in and if the marathon was the same route it would have been even worse by the time they had all finished. Well done you though :)

  • Thanks. Some parts of the course improved slightly while other parts worsened due to all the runners churning it up. When I finished a guy asked me how I found it and all I could say was "tough". He said he's run lots of marathons before and this was the toughest he has done so far!

  • Wow, well done Aftab!

    I walk our family dog at Weald Park sometimes so know the hills and woods very well! Glad I was not tempted to enter even the 10k even; sounds like a real cross country mud run like I hated in my schooldays! I am glad I stuck to my usual 5.8km run around Harold Wood!

    Enjoy your rest this evening! :-)

  • Thanks Poppy2010. It is a very nice place, however I am not sure about ever running there again!

  • Fantastic Aftab!! Awful awful conditions but you did great! Hope you are not suffering too much tomorrow and your bling is in safe hands by the sounds of things....I hope! :)

  • Thanks. It isn't very easy to walk this morning, but I expected that. A flat run on the road will feel like bliss after yesterday.

  • Well done - that sounds gruelling! Lovely that you met up with a fellow c25ker, really great the mutual support this site provides - well done Janda too! :-)

  • Thanks and it was definately the toughest thing I have ever endured.

  • Crikey Aftab; that sounds horrendous. Well done you for completing it.

  • Thanks, I tried to convey how it felt running it! It was just as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Especially because it was in a lap format so you knew all the difficulties ahead and passed the finishing line every 3.5km. I saw a few people that packed it in.

  • Well done aftabs

    Great time in mud I think ! And love the garmin stats im sure your medal is safe and im sure there be many more for your daughter to collect in the future rest well and whats next ??????

    Kate x x x

  • A weeks rest followed by a few easier weeks and then interval training to improve my 5km time, I want to improve my PB of 23 minutes. My long runs are over for this year!

  • You're a hero Aftabs, the conditions sound terrible, but I'm so happy for you that you continued and beat the nasty course. It's a great time. It's been so good watching your progress, I'm sure your family and you lovely daughter are very proud of you.....and you should be too. Relax a bit and enjoy the feeling :)

  • Thanks! When I told my wife how tough it was she asked me why I put myself through it all!

  • I know! Partners sometimes think we're a bit crazy......but running is a bug (a nice one!). Great pictures from the run too :)

  • Here is a link to a few photo's of the run:


  • Some great photos here. Lots with me in too. I'll post the ones my wife took later.

  • I told my Dad that he needed to go into the woods to get the best photo's!

  • A great achievement - well done! It must feel great to know that despite the conditions that were thrown at you, you were still able to complete the course.

  • Thanks and it does feel good. All my training was to try and get a fast time, but after the first lap I knew that the acheivement would have been to finish!

  • Aftabs, you did amazing to get round in such horrendous conditions. Enjoy your rest!

  • Thanks!

  • Hey aftab. Wel done to you. What a race that was! And fantastic to meet you in real life too. I'll post later about my run but I couldn't agree more with what you said about the route. It was possibly the hardest run I will ever do. My mate Lou, ten plus years younger and much fitter than me came in a few minutes ahead of me and said it was the most horrendous run he'd ever done. Oh,by the way, my wife got a photo with both of us in it probably at the end of lap 1. I'll get it from her camera and post it too. And, I may have seen your dad on the route too- not at the finish/start line but somewhere around the lake end. Anyway, well done again.

  • Congratulations to you both, sounds really tough but I am very pleased you got to meet up, must have been a bit of a boost.

  • Yes it was. Really pleased that we did. Great to chat on the way through the mud. It's on road next time for me.

  • Definately! I may sign up for the Brentwood HM in March/April time. I think that is a road circuit, Brentwood isn't going to be a flat run but at least it won't include all the mud!

  • Hi James. It was a pleasure to meet you too. My Dad walked around the lake section and the start/finishing line, as you can see by the photo's.

  • That was amazing, Aftabs, the conditions sound absolutely horrendous and I am so impressed with what you achieved!

  • Thanks!

  • Wow, Aftab what a challenging run. Well done for completing all those laps of the park in such poor conditions.

    Like Oldgirl says. I feel that route would be enough to put many runners off doing half-marthon runs again - or at least not signing up for that one again!

    Great to read that you met Janda! I'm yet to run with, or meet, another forum member!

  • First time for me too but might happen more as I do more races.

  • I doubt I will sign up for this HM again, I don't think my family would let me!

  • Congratulations on finishing, Aftabs. What a tough run that must have been - looks like a lovely day in the photos though! Great write-up too - made me feel exhausted just reading it....

  • Thanks, apart from the wind it was a nice day. The overnight rain is what caused the problems. I think a 5-10km in the summer would be nice, the only challenge then would be the hills.

    I work very close to this park so I may use it for hill training in the summer, it is only a 10 minute drive from work.

  • I am constantly astounded by hill runners. I was coming over the top of a hill in the Pyrenees last month (about 1000m ascent, not big by local standards) and met a runner coming up with a rucksack on his back. Some people are just so incredibly fit. But hills are definitely where you gain strength - just try without the mud next time!

  • I have been told that if I want to get close to a sub 20 min 5km I will have to do some hill training. I hope to get close to a sub 20 min by the end of 2014, so the summer might include a few hill runs!

  • Very well done on pacing yourself to make sure you could finish. I am in full admiration:-)

  • Thanks Suzy!

  • hi You did incredibly well.I used to live near the park and walked it a lot.it is very hill and muddy!but thank goodness you did it before this wind got up?I have such a long way to go but its good to read inspiring posts x

  • Thanks! There is much more wind now, I don't know how I would have managed it with this morning's gusts.

    This time last year I was 4 stones heavier and struggled even to use a cycling machine at the lowest resistance for 20 mins. I stuck to the gym for 6 months and began C25K in April. So stick to it and you will be suprised at what you are capable of.

  • Thankyou.I will definitely take you're advice on board.gosh you did amazingly well to lose all that weight?I could do to lose a few pounds.I will just keep going to the gym.I usually manage to do something every day,but might have a day off as have been awake since 5am with this flipping wind x

  • Ps - which Facebook link is it- can't seem to locate the one -lots of you seem to be on??

  • Thank you - and lovely it is to to see you'll there:-)

  • That is one serious achievement Aftab. I'm in awe!! I must say you are someone I look up to and great to read about your challenges and progress. Someday I hope to achieve what you have. You seem extremely sensible in what you do - particularly interesting to reading how you paced yourself. There are some very useful lessons in all your posts. Congrats on your HM and enjoy the occasion now. M

  • Thanks Mohson! This forum is a great place to get advice and I am happy to help however I can.

  • Love that you met Janda! That's so great, and what a great time in truly awful conditions!

  • Yes it was great to meet another C25Ker!

  • Congratulations Aftab and well done :)

  • Thanks!

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