Langsett Reservoir in South Yorkshire is wonderfully scenic in the summertime, the sun glistening off the crystal clear and tranquil water, paths meandering through gorgeous forest glades, a gentle hike up to the high ridge overlooking the reservoir with a panoramic vista of the beautiful surrounding countryside.
In the dark, wet, and cold depths of Winter, though, it is a haven for marauding gangs of bloodthirsty zombies, picking off poor unsuspecting visitors who dare to brave the harsh elements alone, or in bite sized groups of 2 or 3.
My first race of 2020, and 49th in total, was a battle of survival over 5 laps of the Langsett reservoir. It was cold and raining at the start with over 300 runners aiming to make it intact through 26 miles to claim a medal, chocolate, and beer as their rich reward.
Lap 1 was a sighting lap to survey the course and any potential zombie traps. The first mile or so was a gentle climb along soft trails before heading down several hundred metres of thick gloopy mud to the foot of the hill.
The remains of some unfortunate souls was a sobering reminder of what awaited those who stumbled and sank into its boggy grip. Bordering this swamp, dense blankets of razor sharp thistles trapped the nervous who tried to tiptoe down along the edge. The only sensible approach was heads down kamikaze straight through the middle, kicking aside any flailing hands that emerged from the mud trying desperately to pull you down to a early grave.
Surviving the mud slope bought us out into some open fields, prime zombie territory, but the first lap was surprisingly quiet. A steep climb followed up to the highest point of the course, which offered 360 degree views of potential incoming attacks. A sharp rocky downhill afforded some respite, but the jagged stone edges combined with a cascading stream of icy cold water made conditions treacherous for a full speed descend, with any slip or fall potentially fatal. An injured or slow moving runner would be easy pickings for the fetid creatures of the damned, waiting patiently out of sight in the treeline for the weak and vulnerable to pass.
A slow climb then took us to a small road section that headed further downhill around the tip of the reservoir to a very steep, but thankfully short, section of trail and back to the starting point where first aid, refreshments, and words of encouragement awaited those who had made it through the lap.
By lap two, however, our visit had been noticed. Across the fields a horde of zombies snatched away several unlucky runners who had strayed off the beaten track.
A lap later and evidence of the murderous rotting mass of zombies was plain to see.The crystal waters ran red with the blood of the marathon running victims. The starting field had been reduced to less than a hundred with two laps still to go.
Another lap and all seemed quiet, maybe the zombies were sated after their feasts of flesh and brains. Complacency, though, is a dangerous thing when dealing with the undead. Approaching the peak of the last summit of the day I was nearly ambushed by a stray splinter group of the nearly dead. Fortunately they were of the slow shuffling persuasion, so I was able to out sprint then on the downhill section that followed and so escaped their wrath.
Five and a half hours after setting off in the cold and wet I'd survived the onslaught and made it one step closer to the 100. It's worth a visit, but preferable in the summer when glorious weather and large groups of tourists keep the zombies hidden well away in the shadows.