Back in March, one of my friends told me she had signed up for this run called Pretty Muddy. Would I like to do it to? "No thanks, but I'll come and photograph it," I said. Four months later, and that run happened last weekend. And, as I'd said, I went to take the photographs.
After a week of rain, cloud and generally grey weather, suddenly, the sun decided to grace us with its presence, effectively drying up all the mud! But what perfect conditions for a run. Not too hot, not too cold, and a fresh and pleasant wind to cool you off. Now, I don't run. I don't have the desire to do it, nor the inclination. I'm a walker, I am happier walking than running. I can take more photos walking than running.
So as I arrived before my friends, I felt really out of place - everywhere I looked there were runners. Just running. And these people were doing it just because they could - they weren't even part of the fun run! Gradually, as I neared the start line, the green field of the common was slowly being overrun by a sea of bright pink t-shirts. The music was pumping, the announcer on stage, the sun shining. I felt for all the world that I'd stumbled onto a lesser known music concert.
But I had time, so I decided to have a little scout of the course, and find out where I wanted to be. Normally, I expect runs to be boring routes, without any real goal except to run and constantly beat a personal best time. This is why I struggle to find the appeal. Within a hundred yards of the start line was the first obstacle. A hurdle. Over which you jumped into a pool of mud. Interesting.
After that, tyres. Then nets to crawl under, nets to climb, spider webs to crawl through, space hoppers to bounce on, a mud puddle to swim through, inflatable swinging ball things, and a giant inflatable slide, which unless you're under 12 years old, is not normally allowed. Oh, and at every turn, stewards with water pistols or buckets. Just by watching I felt like an excited small child again.
This run was a women only run, but as I waited at the first hurdle, one of my highlights was watching the men run from the start point to the hurdle. Whilst trying to push buggies, herd children, keep hold of handbags, spare clothes and take photos. And shout encouragement. What brilliant people you are. Not only have you given up your Saturday to support your family and friends, you've also been left to guard over the belongings, little people, act as official photographer, and actually spot your pink wearing loved one from the crowds of pink wearing people. That's a tough job, and I can say I was impressed. High five yourself!
I followed my friends around the course, shortcutting so I could be in position before they arrived, and I even managed to walk some of the way with them. The run itself, though set up for an exceptionally good cause, didn't feel as atmospherically pressured as other runs I have been to. Here, there was no intention to beat a personal best time. It was all about the cause. And I loved it. Good for you runners. Every person I saw had a great big smile on their face, you stopped and helped each other, you cheered each other on, and I'm pretty sure you had a great time to go with it.
If you'd like to see the rest of the photos visit here: http://www.silverscalephotography.co.uk/prettymuddysouthampton