The Maverick inov-8 Original Kent through the eyes of Wild TR Runner Sophie Adams

Last weekend I headed down to the beautiful grounds of Groombridge Place to take part in The inov-8 Original Maverick Kent with some of the Wild Trail Runners crew! As a group we have taken part in quite a few locations in the race series now, but Kent always proves to be the most popular, full of familiar faces and the best atmosphere.

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Last year I competed in the long distance here and loved the course so much I wanted to return for another crack. Unfortunately due to my ongoing injury I decided to drop down to the short 7km course this year and knew it was going to be a totally new experience for me, as it would not only be the shortest trail race I had ever taken part in but also to fulfil my race cravings I would have to step up a gear pace wise to feel I had achieved something. After having some time off post Squamish 50 and focusing on rehab work I hadn’t got in any speed training or time on the trails. I was slightly concerned my leg wouldn’t hold up for even that distance and that my running fitness might have suffered in that time period. Though I manages to prove myself wrong!

We all assembled at the start line with the long distance on one side and the middle and short on the other to aid with the course split right at the beginning. What I liked this year was that there was accurate chip timing; in previous years it was whoever was closest to the front would generally get a quicker time, which was a bit stressful for those wanting to race. Even so, I decided to get myself right to the front, as I recalled there is always a pile up in the mid pack going over the stiles!

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The course this time was a totally different ball game due to it being caked in slippy mud compared to last years nice and dry dusty woodland trails, but was nothing in comparison to the boggy ground of the Maverick X Series Yorkshire Dales race! The terrain is mainly a mix of fields, woodland, some road and muddy tracks. I pushed as hard as I could but without pushing too much to aggravate my knee, luckily the terrain didn’t allow me to go full pelt due of the fear of sliding over or down hills. I held second lady for half of the race until my legs started to slow on the hills and I got overtaken, I kept the other lady in sight with the hope of being able to overtake her on the last part which I knew was downhill and familiar. Typically I got lost at the last course split and headed down a road instead of going ahead through a farm and then lost about 3 minutes or so and therefore also sight of the group leading the way.

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In the end I finished as 3rd lady and 7th overall, which I was pretty pleased with due to the circumstances. At the finish line you are presented with a bottle of Maverick beer and a medal which doubles as the bottle opener, this in itself is worth the entry fee! If you are running with a dog they also get their own doggy medal. What have I learnt from this race? Mainly that CrossFit really does keep your fitness up as well as your speed. Plus it is always wise to bring a spare pare of shoes to such a race just incase!

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justin bufton