Seven of us from the club took on the challenge of the Riverbank Rollick on 12 January 2020. The organisers had proudly announced that this was going to be the muddiest ever, and they were not wrong! The front runners completed the 9.6 miles in under an hour, as in previous years, but the tail-enders were about 30 mins slower – and I am sure that it was to do with the mud!
The route changed slightly last year, with a new base at the Castle School. There was a pleasant walk through the Castle grounds to the start; thereafter, it was the usual wet, muddy fields and tracks to the Severn, with lengthy queues at the stiles and gates. Progress along the river bank was really tough because of the strong headwind, as well as the very soft, muddy ground. If you are not familiar with the Severn mud, I can tell you it is grey (rather than brown) and horribly smelly!
Things were a bit easier in some ways once we turned left away from the Severn, but the ground was muddier than ever at times, so it required huge effort to pull ones feet up and out and forwards for the next step! We agreed that attempting to run was actually more productive than walking as it meant we did not sink in so far. The part up through the woods was terribly slippery and a thin rope put in to help with the steepest bits was not much help. Past the golf course was as tricky as ever because of the angle of the path – should you head high where there was a smidgen of grass, or stay low so as to avoid the possibility of slipping further down into the hedge? The river section was still there – a welcome chance to wash feet and legs – but then there was about another mile of (not so) muddy paths to the finish.
The marshals were excellent – in a wide variety of fancy dress and providing music by the river and jelly beans later on. The organisation overall was very good and there was the opportunity for a hot shower at the school. It was certainly tough, but good fun! Roll on next year!