Kas booked herself into the Chester marathon earlier in the year and we decided to all go up, on the basis that we were able to persuade my brother to allow us to use his flat near Wrexham over the weekend – he’s back home in Southwell at the weekends.

So off we headed up the M40 with a carload of stuff on Friday night for what proved to be a busy weekend. We made the mistake of thinking that the more direct looking route around Brackley would be quicker. It wasn’t. We then needed to stop for something to eat, so we ducked into Warwick Services for a healthy repast. That wasn’t either. It was burgers, chips, sandwiches and fizzy drinks.

By this time it was totally dark so the rest of the journey was going to have to be done in “darkness” mode. It was probably time the kids went to sleep anyway. They didn’t.

We drove up around the south side of Birmingham, then onto the M54 and along the A41 towards Whitchurch – this looked the best route for a Friday night. It wasn’t too bad, just a little slow once off the motorway due to there being plenty of lorries and not really enough long straight parts to pass them. We found the flat (near to Holt) fairly quickly and were able to get out and upstairs pretty quickly. Once we’d found where Phil kept all the bedding we were well away.

No running weekend away would be complete without a bit of geocaching. After all, why go for two days when the running only takes one? Anyway, there didn’t seem to be any parkruns around here so there was no opportunity to go do that.

You can read about my day’s geocaching at Bike or Hike.

Sunday morning started fairly early for Kas, and not quite so early for the rest of us. We had to get into Chester before they started closing the roads, which was about 90 minutes before the race started. Thankfully though the traffic wasn’t too bad and they were using big portions of the racecourse’s infield for parking, which meant we were fairly close to everything. It also meant that when we got there we’d still got something like 2 hours to kill before Kas’s race started. It was a cold morning and the various attractions at the race HQ didn’t keep us occupied for long – just a coffee van and the usual running clothes stands. So by the time we’d finished this and made the first of a number of trips to the “facilities” in the field we were starting to get a bit bored and a lot cold. None of us had taken our hats or gloves (after all, it hadn’t been at all cold so far this autumn) so the early morning chill was taking its toll a little bit. We ended up sitting inside for a while in the big marquee just to keep the cold away.

Chester_05.JPGEventually it was time for Kas to set off, so we walked out onto the racecourse, via the “facilities” again, and Kas started running around the grass field to get warmed up, closely followed by the kids, who obviously needed to warm up too for their 1 mile race that was starting over an hour after Kas left us.

In that time after Kas left we went off the racecourse slightly to grab a geocache up on the perimeter road, just to “fill in” a new county for the kids, and then we came back down and mooched about near the race HQ again until we received the call to go and get lined up.

The kids race was a straightforward 1 mile which involved running a few furlongs out around the racecourse and then a 180 degree turn before running all the way back through the start gate and then a few hundred yards further on to the finish. Ami said she’d run all the way with Izzy to make sure she as OK, but in the event she left Izzy at the turn and just sprinted in. To be fair to Izzy though, she seemed fine with it and was positively tanking it when she came into the finish straight, so I was quite proud of them both. It was also quite funny that despite all the announcements about having to run through the start gate on the way back and keep going for another 300 yards there were still several children (and their accompanying adults) who sprinted through the start gate and then simply stopped. Most then had a moment of dawning as they realised others were still sprinting past them…….

After the kids had finished and got their medals (which are very nice medals) we took a few photos and got their jumpers back on before noticing that we really didn’t have time for much else before Kas was due back. We just about had time to go to the car and make another trip to the “facilities” and then we went down to the marathon start point to wait for Kas.

She made her grand entrance into the racecourse in a very quick time and was spurred on a little by us three cheering her into the final few yards, and she finished in a stonkingly fast new PB time of 3:53.41 – Fan-dabby-tastic ! – Try reading about the Chester Marathon on Kas’s blog.

After all that exertion Kas needed a bit of a rest, so we sat at the outside coffee bar (it was now quite warm outside) and then took the kids into the play-area tent before heading off back to Wrexham.

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We didn’t have much of a plan here except to get gone as soon as we could, but after a day and a half there wasn’t a great deal of packing to be done, so I was comfortable to leave the girls in the flat while I shot out to collect 7 of the easiest drive-by caches I’ve ever done in a mere 40 minutes.

The drive back was a predictably slow Sunday afternoon crawl stuck behind slow moving lorries and cars. All the way down I was looking out for a convenient place in Shropshire to stop and do a single geocache (again, to “fill in” a new county). After driving through quite a lot of Shropshire we ended up at Newport, where we thought we’d stop for a random cache and then get something for dinner before finishing the drive. The cache proved easy but then finding somewhere to eat seemed rather harder. We had Googled a couple of pubs but when we got there one of them looked rubbish and the other didn’t seem to exist, so somewhat disappointed we jumped back in the car and decided to go look in the next town, whatever that would be. Thankfully, as we were pulling out of Newport back onto the main road we found the missing pub – it was simply marked into totally the wrong place on Google Maps, as is often the case. It was a chain restaurant attached to a Premier Inn hotel, so nothing special, but it did do a decent Sunday carvery for the kids.

By the time we finished here it was straying into darkness again but thankfully not long after here we were on motorways with street lights, so it wasn’t too painful. The traffic also seemed to have died down a bit, so the drive went quite quickly, especially once the girls made me put Madness on the iPod. After a bit of that it was my turn to choose and I went for a bit of Beatles. It was surprising how many of their hits that the kids had heard of.

And that was it. When we got home everything was pretty much as we left it, except Kas and the girls each had a new medal to hang up somewhere.