50/50 marathons

14. Winter Enigma Marathon

4th January 2020

Winter Enigma

It took me a while to figure out the relevance of the name Winter Enigma, other than the fact it’s run by a group called Enigma Running. Whilst driving towards Milton Keynes I realised how close the event was to Bletchley park and the penny dropped! It’s lucky they didn’t need to rely on me to break the Enigma code eh???

I’ve only ever been to Milton Keynes twice in my life before, and both times were to see foo fighters play at the bowl. This was always going to be a let down compared to those times.

I had booked myself into the cheapest hotel I could find, £29 for the night, thank you very much. It was ok, bit grubby and smelt of cigarettes but I don’t need anything fancy. I wouldn’t want to see the room illuminated by a black light though!!!

Woke up bleary eyed the following morning after getting no sleep (you get what you pay for) and started the familiar task of getting ready, kit on, porridge and banana eaten and out of the hotel by 8:15. Race start was at 9, but I was literally 5 minutes away. I’m getting pretty good at timing these things now.

The race HQ was at a place called the Caldecotte, an old windmill that is now a Premier inn, sat on the banks of the rather large Caldecotte lake. At registration there was a small group of runners awaiting the start. Quite a low key event, I think the maximum amount was 60 people. There does seem to be a definite type of person who enters these off season events. A lot of folks who are going for as many marathons as they can, a lot of ultra runners using it as a training run and a light salting of the dudes with their 100 marathon club vests. I had no idea how many 100 marathoners there were until I started this challenge. Before that I’d only ever seen the odd one at the bigger marathons that I’d done, they were like rare unicorns and I marvelled at their splendour as they ran past me adorned in the coverted vest. I too dreamt of one day wearing the sacred vest, but my meagre attempts brought me no closer to achieving the dream. That is until I started this 50/50 nonsense. Upon completion of this it makes it seem possible. But that is for another day, back to the task at hand.

Winter Enigma

The Winter Enigma is basically a looped course of 7.5 laps of the previously mention, very large, Caldecotte lake. The weather was fine, bit cold, but it is January. There was a small gazebo set up as aid station and checkpoint. The course was straightforward, just keep the lake on your right and keep running until you want to cry, then carry on! In case the route got confusing there were markings on the path made from flour!

I set off, still feeling a tad on the stiff side from the previous weeks Abominable Snowman. Luckily this was all flat, apart from the odd little undulation. With so few people running it didn’t take long to be on my own with only the ducks for company, oh and the constant nagging in my head to just stop and have a lie down! First few laps were ok, quite pleasant in fact. I kept a steady 9 minute mile and tried to keep in my mind what lap I was on. You’d think that at 49 being able to count to 7 would be a straightforward task, but apparently not. There’s something about running a marathon that turns your brain to shit and even the most basic of mental arithmetic is a challenge. Along the way I also try to work out my pacing so that I keep within the 9 minute mile. Embarrassing as it is I was never very good at times tables and the 9 times table was always a bit of a nemesis. I could do the 10 times table for as long as you like, but not so clever with the odd numbers. So as I’m running along I’m using the finger counting technique to see what I need to be at for the next mile. This was all fine up until labour 2.5 hrs and then all rational thought goes out of the window.

The last 3 laps were frankly horrible. I’d seen the same things over and over, it wasn’t scenic anymore, my legs were hurting, my back was hurting, heck everything hurt. I couldn’t count and all I wanted to do was stop. 2 laps left, sounds better, but still 8 miles. The slight undulations in the track were now mountains. I’d seen that bloody windmill so many times and I didn’t think it was pretty anymore. Last lap and I gave myself a good talking to, managed to pick it up a bit, I’d slipped right back to 10 minute mile stumble, but by this point I didn’t care, I just wanted to stop and the best way to do that was to go faster and finish the last few miles.

The finish couldn’t come fast enough. The site of the crappy gazebo as I turned the final corner was such a treat. I was handed a medal with a snowman on it and off I staggered back to the car to try and warm up a bit, oh and to have the customary vomit in a car park!

The real enigma was, what the hell am I doing? There was very little pleasure taken from doing this one. I vowed there and then to avoid lapped marathons at all cost. That being said, the winter months are hard to find marathons to do, but there are a few of these lapped things. They are soulless. Give me a good trail marathon any day. And to think, they were doing the same course the next day, only difference being that you ran it the other way round!!!

Next week I’m struggling to find anything in the marathon running calendar to fill the gap, so I may just have to make something up. Take a look.

If you’d be interested in running the Winter Enigma Marathon in the future, take a look at Enigma Running.

Winter Enigma


Time taken





I am running these marathons to raise money for Mind. If you like what I’m doing and would like to donate you can go to my Just Giving page below.