Bedgebury Half Marathon

Some races are not about time, or pace, but about getting out in the fresh air, with good company and just enjoying the ride, and that is exactly the way I was approaching this race.

I had convinced my friend Viki to sign up and run with me, and I know she was a bit nervous about the distance, having struggled to find time to train lately and suffering a few injury niggles, however she still wanted to run, and we agreed on a slow gentle run.

Waiting to start

It was an extremely cold, with the temperatures barely above freezing, but the sun was shining and the rain that had been prevalent the day before was no where to be seen, which actually made it lovely conditions to run in (once the feet had defrosted!)

The race started at the top of a hill, then headed down onto the forest paths that make up Bedgebury Pinetum. My all terrain trail shoes were perfect for this run, as we started on grass, but were soon running on a variety of paths from proper paved surfaces to ankle deep mud on woodland trails.

As we made our way around the first lap, which made up the first 10km of the race, I was reminded of how lovely a place to run Bedgebury is, having done a race here once before, and also visited a few times to do the Go Ape course they have up in the trees. It’s very scenic, with no traffic, but you do have to watch out for bikes as there are several well marked bike trails that are popular with cyclists, and also the odd horse!

One of the lakes we passed on route

The latter part of the first lap took us through Bedgebury’s Gruffalo trail, before being directed away from the final hill off to complete a second lap for the people running the half marathon.

Viki and I were having a lovely time, chatting away and jogging along nice and slowly, having to stop for a walk on some of the more mud laden paths as Viki’s footwear couldn’t cut it against the slippery paths! No one could accuse us of running too fast,and we were definitely near the back of the of the half marathon runners, but we didn’t care.

As we made our way around our second lap it became clear this race was going to come up short of the advertised distance, my GPS watch consistently beeping off the miles about half a mile after we went past each of the mile markers. I knew this would be irritating my husband, who was far ahead of us (actually he came 23rd!), but since we were not looking for a fast time, Viki and I weren’t too bothered.

As we turned up the final hill back towards the start line, Viki’s young son Chester was there to cheer us on, and began running up the hill behind us, so we took his hands, and he ran with us the rest of the race and over the finish line.

Making our way to the finish

It had taken us almost 3 hours to complete this race (I wasn’t kidding when I said we took our time!) and in the end I clocked the race at about 700m short (which is a lot, even if we consider the inaccuracy of GPS in the trees). We had a lovely run on a sunny Sunday though, finishing with a very smart medal shaped like a pine-cone, and are looking at going back to run the 10 mile race hosted there in February. All in all a great way to spend a chilly Sunday morning.

Finished with our medals

 

Maverick Dark Series – Sussex

Due to dropping out of the Bournemouth Marathon, it had been well over a month since I last did a race, as I had planned to give myself a break so by the beginning of November it was about time I dusted off my kit and earned a new medal!

A cold, wet, Saturday dawned with a nice lazy start, as this race was taking place at night! The first of three evening trail races put on by Maverick. Phil and I headed out late Saturday afternoon to travel to the race that was taking place at Cowdray Park in West Sussex.

Phil and I getting kitted out and ready to start

It was very cold waiting to start, as the light quickly leached away and the start time of 5pm approached. As normal for a Maverick race there was the choice of a short, medium or long route, and Phil and I were unsurprisingly doing the long route of 15km, but rather unusually we were actually going to be running together, Phil slowing down to run with me for a change.

The start line in the fading light

After a race brief to explain how the course was marked using reflective signs and glow sticks, it was on with the head torches and off into the darkness. We started down hill on a paved road but it was soon off into the trees, across increasingly muddy paths.

Despite the cold, we soon warmed up running, trying to avoid the biggest puddles, but getting splattered in mud as we weaved through trees and across fields. The rain from earlier in the day had eased off, and although it was spitting lightly at times, I barely noticed it.  We ended up running near a group who seemed to be finding navigating in the dark quite a challenge, and kept going wrong and getting confused. Luckily Phil and I were a little more adept at spotting the signs reflecting in the head torches or the glow sticks in the trees and several times we helped to put them right, managing never to get lost ourselves.

It was good fun running through the mud in the dark, but all good things much come to an end and we eventually crossed the finish line together and collected our medals and beer before going to get changed in the somewhat soggy car-park and hitting the road on the hunt for food.

Looking forward now to the next in the Maverick Dark series in Surrey at the end of November.