Built in the reign of Elizabeth I, Loseley Park stands in ancient Surrey Parkland close to the North Downs yet within reach of London. Still the home of the More-Molyneux family, it is remarkably unchanged since 1562 when Sir William More laid the first stones, and remains, as he intended, a place of calm, grace and subtle beauty. From the house itself, where the intricate panelling in the Great Hall was once in Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace; to the Tithe Barn with its ancient oak beams; to the elegant and restful walled garden, Loseley Park is sought after for civil weddings, corporate events, and as a location for films such as Pride and Prejudice. But it’s also a place to visit, to enjoy the grounds, the garden and house, and relax in one of England’s friendliest historic homes.
Having been inspired by this JustPlodIt blog recently about volunteering at events I got in touch with allabouttriathlons, my local event organisers who are always on the look out for helpers, and in addition they offer the added bonus of free entry at their events for life, how about that for a reward?!?
Anyway, that was just as we moved down here a couple of months ago, and I’ve not yet volunteered for the guys over at allabouttri. This Thursday, I got a last minute email from Toby, urgently requiring some registration officials for Sunday at the Loseley Park 10km Run, oh and that we could run for free afterwards. Well, the long and the short of it is that the training plan said 5 miles, so I figured why not give something back to running and help out, and get my training run done in the beautiful rolling countryside just south of Guildford.
So, to 5:15 this morning – and the alarm chiming beside the bed. Somewhat dazed, I rolled over, turned it off and cursed myself for setting the alarm, before turning back for more sleep – having completely forgotten what the alarm was set for! Woops. Good job I remembered again fairly quickly and stumbled downstairs where all my gear was assembled the night before :-) Forcing porridge down my neck, was not a pleasant experience at 5:30am, but needs must and all that. I was out the door just past 6, and at Loseley by 7, reporting for duty.
Registration was great fun, a team of really friendly, like minded people, most of whom were also runners, giving something back to the running fraternity. A quick dash to get the trackies whipped off – and subsequently thankful that I’d remembered to put the tights on underneath :-) Change wellies for running shoes, and I was ready to go.
A key thing about this run for me was that it was a training run – not a race. But the countdown begins, the crowd whoop and holler – and sod it, lets go for a race :-)
The first Km heads down the drive to the main road, and is nice and flat. With not far shy of 1000 people heading down the drive, it’s easy to get carried away, and my first Km was complete in about 5:05 – maybe a little quicker than my intended pace for about 55 min time. The second kilometre heads up a short hill – but I wasn’t going to be the first to start walking, but as you round the corner, and drop down just a little you could just hear everyone swearing as we look up and see the faster runners cresting the hill above us!
Bugger! About two thirds up the hill I reminded myself that it was training run and ground to a walk. It was a beast of a climb up the side of a farmers field. The next flat stretch of tree-lined gravel path was a welcome break, strewn with potholes filled with muddy water – but easily avoidable as the field had thinned substantially by now. This came before a long run down following the main road which was certainly something of a relief, and a few breaks in the tree line to the left gave way to some beautiful views of the valley from which we had come, and to where we were heading again. This came at the half way mark, which I passed in 28:45, happily in the zone for a sub 1 hour race.
Sadly, the downhill didn’t last all that long, and at about the 6Km mark the route heads back up hill again, up ‘Sandy Lane’ well, you have one guess where this route gets its name from – 3 km of Sand track. A large amount was pretty compacted, and not too much trouble to run along, but then the other bit was soft, slippy underfoot and rather annoyingly on a long uphill stint :-(
Sandy lane brings the runners back on to the road, downhill towards Loseley again, before cutting off to the right about halfway down and heading across the fields. Along this field, some cheeky woman came running up with her friend, behind me and a guy alongside me – ‘Oh, I think we should overtake these boys’ she said, ‘They’re going so slow, it’ll be so funny to overtake boys’ as she huffed and puffed her way past and called back to her friend to join her. He and I just looked at each other and smiled – both knowing that we were just thinking – ‘wait till the sprint finish!!’
She never really got away, and 500 metres from the end she was eating my dust – as were a number of runners who seemed to not have a kick at the end! :-)
Support around the course was non-existent (unsurprising given the fairly remote location), save for the super marshals who were out in great number at every junction, although not even needed as the course was so well marked with arrows seemingly every few hundred metres or so and the turns adequately signposted.
At the finish, numerous runners stayed on to support and cheer the remaining finishers in, and crossing the line there was a great range of drinks, Tracker/Eat Natural bars, and Bananas, and after one of each I was feeling great again!
A brilliant event, really efficiently run by Toby and his team – and I will be happy to help out again soon, and I look forward to taking part in more of their events, although maybe not the ones entitled ‘Brutal’ :-)
As an added incentive, when signing up for a race you are given the choice of either a medal or free race day photos – then the majority vote wins. Today, we will be getting free race photos which is a nice little perk to the event. They are not live yet, neither are the results – so I will update as soon as I have official confirmation of the time.
09/11/11 – Update – Images have been added now