We were scheduled to fly to the Philippines that weekend. However, the temptation to run a double marathon weekend was too strong to resist. I gave in and signed up for these races with Saxons, Vikings, and Normans Running.
We got the travel route from Belgium to the UK down to a T by now. I was already off for the summer by the afternoon of Friday, June 21, 2019. We took the train from Soignies station this time to Brussels Midi station, switched to the Eurostar train to London St. Pancras station, and the local trains for Strood station. From Strood, it was an easy walk to RBS Hotel.
Check-in was a breeze. There were several restaurants and restaurants in the area. We walked to Asda Strood Supermarket for an easy dinner and tucked in for an early night.
The Ranscombe Summer Challenge was the first race on Saturday. An Uber car took me to the gates of Ranscombe Farm Nature Reserve. The race headquarters was only a few meters away.
Race start was at 8:00 AM. I checked in and picked up my bib which I wore for the whole weekend. A quick prerace briefing and milestone acknowledgments followed before we took off. We followed the green course for this race. The route was hilly but stunningly beautiful with the poppies and daisies in full bloom and an expansive view of the farm to soothe the mind. As per SVN races, this was a multi-loop course. We had to finish seven laps to complete a marathon and get a medal. Actually, runners get a medal as long as we finish a lap. Some did just a lap, a half marathon, or an ultra within the eight-hour time limit and got their medals. One reason why I like this group. It is very inclusive of all runners. I took my time as always and finished in 7:05:44. I accepted my medal and goodie bag and took another Uber back to the hotel.
I had an appointment waiting for me when I got back to the hotel. My sister Arlene and her husband Stuart were already in the area. They live in the Kent area and were very familiar with Rochester. We drove around Rochester for a while, had our photo taken at the Rochester castle, then settled in at one of the Italian restaurants for dinner. We could not stay long and chat. I had to rest to be able to run the race next day.
The Teddy Bear Picnic Challenge followed the same format and rules, but using the red route this time. We had to complete six loops to finish a marathon distance and get the medal. I finished the race in almost the same time as the day before, in 7:04:49.
I took another Uber car back to the hotel where I took a shower and got ready for our long flight back to the Philippines at 10:20 PM via Philippine Airlines.