Invader half marathon race review: Trails and tribulations

Invader half marathon, White Star Running

Given my extreme tardiness in writing this up, I figured I’d skip the review and jump straight into the race report…

This was my first foray into the world of White Star Running, and my first ever trail run. I’d heard so many good things about White Star races that I was trying to manage my own expectations going into to it, while also preparing myself for what I knew would be a tough race.

I wasn’t wrong. Race day was extremely hot and sunny, so my first port of call was the merch stall to buy a hat. After a quick layering of sun cream and a trip to the loo it was nearly time to get going, so up the hill to the start line we went.

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I had heard that the Invader was started by someone on horseback, but it was still rather surreal to see! Off we went, and within 10 minutes I had lost everyone I knew. I wasn’t too bothered though, as I was enjoying the scenery!

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At about mile 3 I bumped into Claire, another Westbourne RC runner. As a non-local member of the club, I don’t often get to see the rest of the club so it’s always nice to get to know someone new! I wasn’t feeling 100% either so I was very glad to have good company. It always makes such a difference to have someone to chat to to help the miles tick by, exchanging stories of past races. Claire also shared a few tales of spectacular race falls and injuries!

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I was still feeling quite sluggish – I’d had a bit of a cold and was finding breathing more of a challenge than it should have been – so I was very glad when we approached the Lovestation at around the halfway mark. A legendary feature of White Star races, the Lovestation features an array of drinks, snacks and booze. I grabbed a brownie and some coke, had a bit of water and declined the booze – I was finding it tough enough as it was!

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Off we went again, with more hills, fields and views. It was glorious.

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The main issue with an off-road run is the lack of smooth surfaces, so I had been religiously keeping an eye out for rocks, sticks and other potential hazards. Unfortunately at around mile 10 I was so pleased to see the shade continued around the corner that I took my eye off the ball momentarily. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air, landing with a thud. I managed to share the weight between my elbow and my knee, so while I was bloodied and bruised I was OK to continue. My knee was soon pouring with blood, but luckily I am not particularly squeamish, and at least I now had my own race fall story to share with Claire!

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The rest of the run was even more of a run/walk, with my cuts stinging and knee hurting. Still chatting with Claire and just enjoying the day, I was loving the views too much to worry too much.

Knowing I had been a while, I thought when I finished I’d be met by the whole family, wondering where I had been. Instead the family repatriation point became the first aid tent! While I had the woodland debris cleared from my knee, Jacqui had neck, knee and head seen to after a nasty fall. Luckily it was nothing serious. After the drama I was able to fully appreciate the very cool race bling and the tasty jam contained within my finisher’s bag.

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Even with a personal worst and a chunk out of my knee, I still had a great time and my first White Star Running experience lived up to expectations. Which is good because I’m already signed up to the Bovington Marathon in December…

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