The word is the narrative marathon is on
Written instructions will replace arrows for the self-guided East Hanningfield on Easter Sunday
Read the small print! It's an instruction we all routinely ignore – at our peril. And one the 150 competitors in the annual East Hanningfield 'narrative marathon' will certainly have to comply with if they wish to successfully navigate the circular route around Danbury village in Essex.
This race is usually held during the icy grip of winter (see photo) on the first Sunday in January but was postponed due to the pandemic, initially to 28 March, then bumped another week to Easter Sunday (4 April) when it was realised it was still a day too soon for PM Boris Johnson's roadmap.
A roadmap is the one thing missing from the meticulous plans for the day by Top Day Events, the Malden-based organisers of more than a dozen long-distance trail events in Essex. East Hanningfield's 26.2-miler is 95% off-road on a variety of terrain.
What makes this one stand out in a crowded fixture list is the absence of any waymarker arrows. Runners receive comprehensive written course instructions with their numbers and simply have to follow them to the letter to reach the finish line.
Of course, there are various checkpoints and sufficient marshals to ensure the safety of all competitors, many of whom return every year for another dose of fun while running 'blind'.
Last year's top three finishers were James Bosher (unattached, 3:39:15); M40 Ian Brazier (Little Baddow Ridge Runners, 3:49:49) and first lady Jackie Stretton (Springfield Striders, 3:54:15). Just the top three broke four hours on the challenging course. There were 104 participants who had all completed the course at 8:18:21.
The January 2020 women's winner was well impressed by the soup at the finish and posted this tribute to the organisation on Facebook: “Thank you for a brilliant event. Special thanks to all the wonderful marshals for looking after us and to the ladies who were making the soup at the end - it was delicious and much needed!”.
Race details are available at Top Day Events website here
The latest information will be posted on Facebook here
Image: Top Day Events