So, today was finally the day. Race Day. My eight week programme has lead me to this date, and after weeks of feeling rather stupid for suggesting such a bonkers challenge to the folks, I was actually really excited for it.
On the whole, the training has been really good. I have remained injury free, and only missed a few sessions – some to illness, some to late trains. But the run247.com 8 week 50minute 10km training plan has been a great guide – although I was aware that with the nature of the race, 50 minutes was something of a dream considering the route profile of the race.
So, waking up, feeling good I settled down to a cup of coffee on the sofa whilst catching up with last nights MOTD. A little while later I munched on a big bowl of tasty porridge – aware that although the race started at 10am, being the second leg runner I would still have a while to wait. And we headed through to Dorking, past the big chicken roundabout, and to Denbies wine estate. The location is simply beautiful, and the marshalls had the car park well managed. Looking up we could see Boxhill to the right, and Ranmore to the Left, but Norbury (my leg) was hidden behind the treeline. I think this helped ease my nerves, being unable to see what awaited me.
The venue was a brilliant choice from eventstolive, the vineyard cafe/shop area has a lovely big indoor seating area where we could do registration, picking up our three race numbers and gathering our gear together, all the while chatting with Mum and Dad’s friends Jill, Mike, and their son Keith. Having gotten the family running idea after my Mum mentioned it to Jill.
Not long before 10 we headed outside, got a place to dump our bags, and listened to the race director give his briefing. Thankfully, the slight drizzle that had been threatening something worse as we left the house, had cleared and the sun was shining low in the sky.
10 am, and they were off. Dad was up first for the starting lap to the top of Box Hill and back, including stepping stones, and 270 steps on the way to the top. This lap is advertised as 4.5 miles, but the first runners came through in 23 minutes. Simply insane when you consider the route profile.
Dad, with his dodgy Achilles heel – and the fact that he had probably trained about 10 hours in total on it was expecting 40+ minutes, but with so many runners coming in pretty quick, including those who were insane enough to be doing all three hills, I decided to whip the jumper and trackies off and get ready to go.
Dad came in with 36:06 on the clock.
The route heads out of the vineyard and north along the A24 briefly, until the turn off for the trainstation. A short way up the road we divert up Crabtree Lane, and the road heads up a few degrees. We are pretty much climbing from here, and evidently my heart rate is so bonkers as I look at my watch and its just flashing ’00’ at me and the little heart logo is going bonkers. I though maybe I was dead already.
I was pretty pleased that I was still running the whole way up the hill, and passed a couple of people, and as the road rounded a bend and started to drop I though that was the hill done. But woe-is-me, another bend in the track and it heads up hill. F*** this I thought, and for about 60 metres, there was nothing for it and I had to walk. Thankfully only a couple of runners made it past me in this time, and I quickly got my breath back and started running up the hill again. It really wasn’t much farther until I got to the top and a short flat section before the water stop.
I believe the water station was at the halfway point, but having it a little earlier (maybe only a few hundred metres) would have been better, because as it was, the station was pretty much right at the start of the downhill, making the intake a little squidgy on the belly. Also, I ran the risk of taking no nutrition with me and relied on the goods available at the water station. The Powerbar on offer was not isotonic, and having gulped water and chucked it, the resulting powerbar shot was so thick and claggy in my throat I was not thankful!!
But it must have given me a bit of a gee-up, because I felt as though I was plummeting down the other side of the hill, dropping half a dozen runners as I went, and I felt amazing!! My hamstring felt a little tight towards the bottom, and I feared having cooked it before the flat route back to the start, but felt pretty good as I hit the bottom. It was now that I first really looked at the time on my watch, and thought I was seeing things – it was saying I’d been out about 30 minutes!! Holy crap, by my estimations, and my 10km PB and the hill and everything else, this meant I was maybe 3 miles into the route – how could this be true? My legs were never going to carry my 3 more miles – I was blowing!!
The stretch along the A24 was pretty monotonous. The sun was low in the sky, and shining off the damp footpath dazzling me and my already spinning head. But, I appreciate that this part of he route was added to save us from more hills – which by now I was very grateful for.
The only thing I focused on was the guy about 50 metres infront. Who was then 40 metres, then 30 metres. And by the time we were back to the Denbies gate, he was right there next to me. I looked over to him, ‘come on mate’ I said, ‘we’re so nearly there!’. He looked at me, smiled and said ‘last dig, thank god.’ We ran together under the railway bridge as the wind just hit us full on in the face, so strong, it was a battle I did not need at this point of the race. I struggled to hold on to him, but I refused to let go so close to the finish, and as we rounded the corner I saw Dad cheering, and Mum waiting for me ready to go, and I just out kicked him. It was brilliant, and it was OVER!!!!!
It was tough, but Mum was on her way now. I wasn’t sure what my time was, and endomondo had failed me yet again!!!! Despite following me all the way through the woodland, it lost me and cocked up on the A24, claiming I had run just 5.9 miles, rather than the 6.5 plotted on the computer, and advertised on the race details. Either way. It was definitely at least 10km, and my official time is 52:01. Smashing previous (flat) 10km PB by at least 2.5 minutes. Ecstatic doesn’t even begin to explain. Obviously though, I don’t know my exact 10km time!!!
Mums route, the ‘Ranmore Ramble’ was basically advertised as 2 miles up, 2 miles down, on an out-and-back route. She says it was as simple as that, and a negative split of 7minutes displays the effect of this hill – but Mum assured us that the view from the top was beautiful. The one negative Mum did have about this loop of the race, was that her Garmin claimed a distance of 7.05km, an opinion corroborated by Jills Garmin too – further than the advertised 4 miles. But still, she finished in a brilliant 49:49, bringing us a team total of 2 hrs 17 mins and 56 seconds, and 42nd overall. Awesome :-)
At the end of each leg, the runners were awarded a choccy bar – choice of Mars or Snickers – water, and a medal. The final runner also picked up our winners bottle of wine (a bottle of beer for each of the individual nutters). The medal is a solid lump of medal with a great design on it. Certainly one of the better medals in the collection.
Its pretty tricky to get a good picture owing to the shiny silver and the reflections that offers.
I think we all had a great morning at Denbies for this race. It was superbly organised, the marshalls were great, and pretty frequent along the route which was also really well marked out all the way. The prizes were good quality too, and the routes were very enjoyable. I didn’t get a huge amount of wow views being stuck in the woods up the hill then down the A24, but Mum and Dad both got great look out points to visit.
The weather couldn’t have been much better – save for a bit less wind – and although this wasn’t provided by the organisers, it just made the whole thing even better. If I could find more crazy people, I would definitely be up for this race again, I really enjoyed it (once I had finished)
And, the provisional results on the website are a bit weak at the mo, so I have transferred it to a spreadsheet to add a few more bits of useful information here:
EDIT 28/11/11 – Just thought I would check my 10km PB. As it turns out, my Middlesbrough 10km time from 2009, as I thought was my PB at about 55 minutes, was in fact 57:38. This means that my actual PB at the distance was the recently completed Loseley Park 10km in a time of 57:01. This means that The Three Molehills time absolutely smashed this effort. 6.5miles in 52:01 is 8 minute miles, so if I extrapolate this then a 10km time may be approximated as 48:48, however, without being able to tell the exact moment I passed 10km, I will take 52 minutes to be my current PB. Still absolutely made up with this result!!