Oops. I was half way there when I realised I’d forgotten to put in my contact lenses. But seeing as it was the first time I’d run in a while, perhaps my disorganisation was to be expected. I also forgot to take a road atlas, so the first challenge was to get from the M6 to the car park before registration closed!

The 13th of January was a wet and windy day on Cannock Chase–my nimble feet saved me when the organiser’s tent took off and I nearly got a pole in the eye. Being unfit, I opted for the light green course, which was only 3.4k, but the quoted figure of 135 metres’ climb was a bit offputting…

Stepping Stones map extract

So what went wrong? Why only 29th out of 30-odd? The rain soon stopped, I kept going well enough on a well-planned course, but I was caught out by a kind of 180-degree error. Somehow it didn’t register that control 5 was a dogleg: I ran down the little valley to the kite and then carried on down to the path at the bottom. I think that because earlier on I’d had to endure a couple of big climbs, my brain just wanted to go downhill. Looking at my compass would’ve helped… And what’s worse, by the time I’d worked out that I’d gone wrong, I’d confidently “helped” another runner to go in entirely the wrong direction. Sorry sir.