Prior to surgery, and prior to the last Crohn’s flare up, I used to enjoy entering races. Crohn’s would quite often get in the way but I managed it well. With the surgery undertaken and a rough idea of how long it would take to recover I set myself a target of completing a race, and supporting a charity in the process.

The Chosen Race

Prior to electing to have surgery I booked a place on the annual club trip to Malta to compete in the Gozo Half Marathon or 10K. Around 2 dozen members make the trip with the race being very cheap (just 14 Euros for a half marathon) and well organised.

When I decided to have surgery I wasn’t given a confirmed date for some time so I wasn’t sure whether I would still be able to travel to Malta but with a confirmed date in place it would look as though I had a chance of making it to Malta and would be able to squeeze in some training beforehand.

Around 7 weeks after surgery I had started running, first with some treadmill runs, then 5ks and parkruns and also managed to complete a few 10k runs. Everything was going well until the week leading up to the race when a pilonidal sinus that I’m being treated for (you can read all about it here), decided that it wanted to cause me a lot more issues. Unfortunately this meant that it would have been unwise for me to travel when it needed to be seen daily by a nurse.

Could I Still Race?

With the Gozo race coinciding with London Marathon, there weren’t a lot of local races on the calendar and even if they were, there’s no guarantee that you could get a place at short notice. However, there was one local race which was a 10k trail race and one that I was familiar with. It was actually the very first race that I completed back in June 2016 so could actually be quite a fitting race.

The race is a very scenic trail race that can easily be split into sections, a 3 mile predominently flat section followed by a ‘best part of’ 2 mile uphill section followed by an as-fast-as-you-can-run downhill section to the finish line.

In the week leading up to the race the outlook was not looking good and I due to both discomfort from my Ken Butt and feeling feverish I really didn’t think that I would be able to run but Saturday I started to feel a lot better and there was a good chance I could run it. Come race day the Ken Butt was feeling good enough to run so I thought I’d give it a go.

The Race

Even though it was my very first race three years ago, I can remember it well. I can remember the scenic run along the River Wye, the long, long, long pull up to the summit and then the fast, and perhaps most scenic, downhill to the finish.

Along the Wye River

I turned up to the race not planning on trying to beat my previous time or trying to overdo it, I just wanted to see how I go on and adjust my pace accordingly. The first portion of the race felt pretty good despite the initial hill climb and I settled into a comfortable pace that was similar to the previous race, perhaps a little quicker. After 3 or so miles you hit the big hill climb and whilst I ran it completely on the first race, I had nothing to prove on this race so settled with a mix of power-walking and running. It worked fine for me and I was still keeping a pretty decent pace.

The Scenic Downhill Section

Reaching the summit of the climb it was time for the fast downhill section, a part of the race I had been eagerly looking forward to. For me this was the most exciting part of the race and the most scenic. The section took you through bluebells, woodland and tricky rocky sections and I loved every bit of it. At this point I was wondering whether I had a chance of beating my previous race time so gave it 100% all the way down but din’t quite make it. I finished in a time of 01:00:34 compared to the previous time of 59:46. Still, I was delighted with the time all things considered and it felt absolutely amazing to be back racing.

And The Stoma?

Not a peep. On short races this is how I imagine they’d all be. I didn’t bother running with anything and I even ran with a brand new brand. I received some samples of Coloplast SenSura Mio to try so thought I’d give it a go running with one and didn’t have any issues..

It’s such a huge relief not having to worry about pooping before, during or after a race!

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Diagnosed with IBD in 2002, I have experienced the usual ups and downs of having a chronic disease and tried numerous medications but the time finally came in 2018 to elect to have surgery to improve my life.

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