The Gutbuster medalFor one reason or another (a trampoline-park-related incident may have been involved), I didn’t actually run any of the races I’d signed up to this year. BUT at some point last month I realised that the Gutbuster, a fabulous muddy 10-mile/10-km race just up the road from us, was taking place on 31 December for the first time in five years – the last time that date happened to be a Saturday – and that therefore I’d be back from up north in time to run it.

Regular readers will know that as well as blogging every day since 11 September I’ve also been running every day, so in theory this should have been a breeze. But I’ve only been running a short distance most days, very little of it offroad and none of it across a muddy turnip field, which is one of the features of this race, so I was a bit nervous. 

It was utterly brilliant. Chatty, filthy muddy, slippy – beautiful scenery (it takes in the Roman walls at Silchester and the sweeping cross-country descent we call Half-Mile Hill back down to the lanes). The last slog, well after my GPS had registered 10km, across the final muddy uphill field to the finish line, a very cool medal, a mince pie and a cup of hot mulled wine. 

It’s hard to find time and energy to race these days, but I’m determined to get back to it in 2017. Not for the racing itself, you understand, but for the stuff that comes with it – seeing old friends, chatting to strangers with whom I have nothing in common except the pace at which we both run, the adrenaline of the start and finish line, and the satisfaction of finishing strong.

Publishing involves a lot of sitting down. Today at least I redressed the balance a little.

However 2016 has been for you, I wish you more of the good stuff and less of the bad in 2017. We’re just approaching the start line, and as with the race I just ran, I’m setting out to enjoy every minute. Even the turnip fields.