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Tuesday 30 October 2012

Skeleton Run. Zombie Brides and the Lingering Smell of Coffee ...

Wolf Runner turned up at my house for preparation for the Skeleton Run and we transformed ourselves. She into Dead Red Riding Hood – post-wolf attack - complete with blood and appropriately ripped clothes. I into a zombie bride with tattered wedding dress, black rimmed eyes and greenish skin. Needless to say, I didn’t have to change my hair that much. Toddler was transfixed by this transformation, “But WHY are you pretending it’s blood?”

I butchered an old net curtain for my veil... but unfortunately running it through the wash beforehand had meant that it was beautifully sparkly and white. Not appropriate for the veil of someone who has just risen from the dead. Or supposed to look as though she has. I decided I didn’t have enough tea bags to soak it in tea (thank you Blue Peter for all those ‘map ageing’ techniques) but as a last ditch attempt coffee might do it. Soaked it in coffee and achieved a lovely dirty brownish colour. And a very strong smell of Nescafe.

After applying a lot of facepaint and fake blood, we finally left the house about 10 minutes late although with luck and clear roads we should still have been able to make it.
I was being driven in style tonight by Wolf Runner in her swanky new car ... when all of a sudden there is a squeaking. There is a whining. There is a strong smell of burning. And a battery light. Bugger. Quick turn the car around and hope the headlights don’t fail before we make it back!

Relieved that we didn’t have to call the RAC man while dressed like dead people, we did a quick change and started up the trusty Focus. And foot down. Finally made it with about 10 minutes to go before the registration closed. Phew. Managed to round up all the team members – we are Red Dead Riding Hood, Zombie Bride, Mr Skeleton, Evil Caped Guy from Scream and Tall Werewolf. We all looked AWESOME!

Just as we were getting ready to set off ...
I was glad for the layers of makeup and the costume as the night was freezing. The race briefing started off pretty much on time and we all trooped up to the top of the car park and huddled together for warmth under the trees. I started near the front as I’d remembered there was a bit of a bottle neck on the narrow paths last year and was soon joined by hordes of the undead and slightly maimed including bloodstained doctors, dead male cheerleaders complete with skirts and pompoms, the Incredibles, Catwoman, Dracula and a murdered man with a stiletto stuck in his head.

The headtorches were all turned on ready for the race start as under the trees and away from the lights of the carpark and the briefing tent it dawned on us all how dark it really was. Previously bright headtorches didn’t seem to shine as far as they had previously and the path looked a lot more treacherous than it had during the August daylight run.

The route was marked by glowsticks but no other artificial lights and the real trick is to run slow enough so you don’t run into a tree but fast enough that you make it to the finish line before the headtorch batteries fail ...

We counted down to the start and then the big rush of ghouliess and ghosties and witches set off in a big rush. It was quite surreal to see scythes and witches hats bobbing along in front of you up the hillside. The first mile is all uphill and it’s a big push all the way to the summit of Beacon Hill. It gets sheerer and more steep as you get higher but just when you think your legs are going to give up and you’re going to breathe up a lung, the trees give way to an open hilltop with a silhouetted Old Man in rock on the left and the lights of Loughborough spread out far below you on the right.

The path bottlenecks again as we all hared through a gate and I made up some time here as I knew that the second mile is all downhill and could use it as a recovery from the first mile. I overtook the pirate girl who had passed me on the uphill and I sprinted down the hill with my ragged wedding dress and coffee-smelling veil streaming out behind me... If I’d had breath for mad witchy cackles I would have done some. But I didn’t.

The road was quite damp and broken on the edges so the headtorch was very useful for this part ... however I hadn’t taken other runner’s costumes into consideration. Overtaking a chap in a puffy pumpkin costume he suddenly lurched to the right and pushed me into a bush! I don’t think he quite realised how much bigger he was with the costume on. Either that or he was REALLY competitive. Or allergic to zombies. Or the smell of coffee.

Managed to make it down to the bottom of the 2nd hill unscathed and with no further pumpkin attacks. Came round a sharp right hand corner past a drinks station on the right and onto a more open path with gorse and brambles to the right and left. A brief mirage as I went past – a bush almost leafless suddenly showed a skull shape in its leaves which morphed back into just leaves again as I went past. Obviously I’d eaten too many Halloween sweeties. Or maybe it was the power of suggestion!

The next hill drags on again for almost a mile and is soul destroying. It drags and winds and on your right you can occasionally see headtorches coming down but you don’t know whether it is people ahead of you on the next downhill section or people behind you still coming down the first hill. This path drags ... and drags ... and drags and just keeps on winding upwards. I had two runners a little way in front of me and I just couldn’t catch them up. The trees press in on either side and the starless night made the darkness dense and thick. My headtorch showed me where the path was - just - but no further than about 10 metres. I could only see the runners in front because of the reflective strips on their shoes.

Finally, the path opened up and I crossed a wide open area before a dash through a gateway and onto a narrow path again. The marshal shouted encouragingly “That was the last hill” ... however I remembered a long drag up a wide avenue of trees from last time but the thought that there might not be many hills left lifted my Spirits. And my zombies.

I was running with a wraith, a skeleton and a gent in hi-viz at this point and we’d all been keeping pace fairly evenly apart from the odd cat-and-mouse game up and down the hills. However as we passed in between an avenue of large old trees and a short sharp hill, I put on a burst of speed as I remembered that this really WAS the last hill before the final mile which was almost entirely downhill. This hill always really hurts. It’s at mile 4 and my legs have just about had enough of hills by this point but knowing that it’s the last one really helps. I overtook them all leaving only a lingering smell of coffee as my veil trailed out behind me.

Passed through the gate at the top and took a sharp turn to the left and onto the start of the downhill. I finally lost the gent in the hi-viz as I put everything I could into the last mile downhill although slightly hampered by the fact that the headtorch was getting dimmer and dimmer by the minute. It made it all slightly more spooky as I was now running on my own and following as best I could the shadowy path as it looped in and out of the trees as it wound its way downhill. I was putting everything into a final dash but the darkness and failing headtorch meant I kept stumbling on drifts of leaves and mud patches making it all a little bit more treacherous.

Came round a corner – could I see lights? Is that the finish? Round the corner, stumbling through the mud and into bright lights and a finish line ahead. A final push to the line and over. The announcer said my name as I finished, then ... “2nd woman.” Did I hear that right? Double checked, then did a zombie appreciation dance! Woo! Collected my medal, an energy drink, a peanut bar – yummy! – and a toffee apple and went to clap and cheer everyone else in.

Everyone made it in, in decent times and with costumes intact! Even Werewolf and Evil Caped Guy from Scream made it over the finish lines with masks still on – although both vowed never to run wearing a mask again. Think there may have been breathing issues involved! Mr Skeleton came in shortly afterwards.

Wolf Runner finished strong and in a good time, however when we were discussing the route afterwards she mentioned how hard she found passing the pub without going in for a nice drink. Pub, Wolfrunner? We were running on narrow footpaths up a hill! There’s definitely no pub on the route! Think it must have been a hallucination brought on by too much white facepaint!

Zombie Bride (me) and Dead Red Riding Hood (Wolf Runner)

2nd woman /114
23rd / 232


  1. Hee hee! Definitely a monster in this race! I wasn't able to slow down - there were people with pointy scythes behind me! :)

  2. Great read and super run, you looked very well after also lol :)