Monday 28 April 2014

A trip down south (well the south Midlands anyway)

The plan was to make Runfurther more inclusive of all of the UK, not just the north. It is hard to chose races without knowing the area and what the organisation is like but I think we did a good job with this one. It felt odd to race on Sunday but at least Evesham is not too far from a motorway junction. I drove down on Saturday evening trying hard not to think about how friends were doing at the Fellsman.

 I had a short walk and found the town hall and a bit more of a walk to suss out the bridges and river. Then I fell into bed and pushed the poor weather forecast from my mind. It worked until about 5.30am when I awoke to rain hammering on the roof of the van. I turned over and tried to hope that perhaps the rain had come early and the day would be dry.

Before 8 I was at the town hall and met up with Emma and Dick. We found a way to put up most of the RF flags, handed over RF prizes to Kurt and were all registered in plenty of time. We quizzed Kurt about shoe grip... and then probably made the wrong choice. It had been very wet overnight.  After a short briefing and warning about horses we trooped off to the start by the river where a bike event was also starting. It was dull and cloudy but dry!
 The start was fast and furious through the park and out of the suburbs into countryside. Already it was getting warm and I was regretting my 3/4 tights and extra layer. I should have realised I was going too fast when I could keep Nigel A in sight but it was very runnable and the first 6 miles was mostly lane or track with no significant hills.I made my first nav error here as I was distracted by an enormous Newcastle United flag. Fortunately I only ran about 200 yards. The villages were pretty and even quaint.
Then after 7 miles or so we headed for the first hill. It was a blessing because the valley floor was sodden and as the soil is clay the paths were slippery as heck.
Time for a bit of banter on the uphills
We did a huge loop around Bredon Hill with amazing views over the flood plain and lots of ancient earthworks too.
 Dropping down to Overbury I paid for the early pace and had to walk for a bit. At least I got to admire the beautiful picture post card village.
In the next village I met the little VW camper van for the first of many  times. The family were completely bonkers and cheered us all madly; they were great. The next section was a bit grim after the rain. The paths through the rape seed were slippery and clogged my shoes until it felt like I was running in platform shoes (memories of Round Rotherham).
We then has another diversion up  a little hill, (well it looks little on the map!) before heading to cross a road  and crossing more fields to lead us to the main escarpment.Langley Hill is only 274m but after the early pace it felt bigger and people were starting to suffer. In Winchcombe I left  one guy with cramp and another changing his shoes.
I had been eating quite well but kept running low on water. This is very unusual for me and kept catching me out all day. Winchcombe was half way or  just over so that was a morale boost.
Emma reeling me in as I knew she would at some point
The route was fully marked so I had left my maps in my sack and could not remember the next bit. In my mind we climbed and dropped and headed for Broadway Tower. Well we did eventually but it was a long way off. After the remains of the Abbey at Hailes, and more shouting from the camper van) we climbed past another earth hill fort before dropping all the way to the valley floor again. A field of horses got very excited and galloped around us with hooves going everywhere. Stanway was another pretty village with lovely grassy parkland and Stanton was even more picturesque.
Here we climbed  and then dropped again. Kurt must be some sort of sadist. In the next section someone had removed a couple of the markers and it caused a few minutes of worry. It was also at a point where a shortcut was possible. We picked the correct line and were rewarded by more markers very soon. It was good to know we were on route even if it seemed to be taking us away from the Tower that we could see on the skyline. The next climb was energy sapping and seemed to go on for ever.
The last big hill over and done with
Fortunately the CP at Broadway Tower was the best and I even got a cup of tea. Then it was- yes you guessed, back downhill to Broadway and across many many fields to Wickhamford. On the section the wheels came off good and proper. I was hungry but had eaten well and felt queasy and my knee was sore. Hopefully not a new injury. The two lads that I had run with from Hailes caught me back up and then overtook me. Emma caught me just before the last CP and encouraged me to run with her but my body would not play. I jogged and walked the best I could and tried to keep her in sight. Only 3.5 miles how hard can that be! I normally manage to get some sort of second wind when I know the finish is there but not today. I must have looked a sorry sight as I struggled up into town from the bridge and aimed for the town hall. I dread to think what the photo will look like.  Emma and I sat cheering in the next runners before moving inside to scrape off what mud we could and be presented with our prizes for 2nd lady and in my case 3rd lady and !st old lady.

The wooden medals we all got are lovely as is the technical T shirt. Prizes were courtesy of RF and I ended up with two and a set of wooden coaster as a vet prize. We had two mugs of soup (and I could have eaten more) and time for a chat with other runners and the RO who was very friendly. Then it was time to pack away the flags and contemplate the long drive home ready for work in the morning.


  1. Thanks Karen for an enjoyable report and pictures.
    I was expecting you to come past me in the latter stages - although 2 guys with me kept the pace up (i.e. above walking!).

    1. Nigel. thanks for reading. It was trying to keep you and the first lady in my sights that did for me early on. too fast too soon and I paid the price. Coming of Bredon Hill had to walk and recover. By Winchcombe thought i had it back together and actually liked the climbs as it slowed the pace a bit. Plus I fell in witha couple of other runners off and on. Then some time after Broadway Tower one of my knees suddenly hurt and i was reduced to jog, walk and struggle on. really frustrating as the last 5 miles should have been so runnable even if not fast. I knew Emmas was close behind me from Stanton and she over took me with about 4 miles to go. She did try to encourage me to run with her but my knee was just too sore. Hope it is not a new injury. Kintyre soon