This event is a track race through the beautiful New Forest. It’s undulating in parts and a really enjoyable run but be warned if you pace it wrong it can be unforgiving. From start to finish it’s well marshaled and that also includes the car parking.
In addition to the 10 mile race there is also two children races which are 1/2 mile and 1 mile plus while the race is going on there is a 3 mile race as well.
I ran this race last year as it featured in the Club Championship and really enjoyed it, so was excited to see it again in the CC. Last year I set a respectable 65:45 but set off too quick and got taken quite a bit at the end.
So how did it go on the day, well it went a bit like this….
I had convinced the wife what a great idea it would be to combine this with a family day out and BBQ based on last year when the sun had been shining, I also invited other Harriers to join us and have a bit of post race social……I awoke to rain!!!
Not deterred I looked at the weather forecast and it assured me that it was going to get better and by the time the race had finished there would be some sunshine. So I packed the car up, loaded in the family and we set off.
We arrived just in time to register the boys for the junior races, they’d decided to do both. They did awesome in both and I was very proud of them both, they got two nice medals too which made it extra special for them both.
Afterwards I changed into my race gear and did some light drills to full loosen up. I then joined the Harriers for a quick pre-race photo and joined the pen.
We were given a thorough briefing which included being mindful of horses and ponies.
The air horn went off and we crossed the chip mats and were away! I always find a 10 mile difficult to pace as it’s a middle point between your 10K and 1/2 Marathon. I decided 6/mi would be the aim and was mindful of my watch for the first mile making sure I didn’t go mad. From the start I became lead runner for the Harriers.
The first few hundred yards is on grass but once you leave the field you are straight on to track. The first couple of miles pass quickly as you run through the forest initially and then into the open countryside, setting a 5:56/mi and 6:00/mi which was right on track. As you hit 2.5 miles you leave the track and join a closed road which brings you out into the beautiful heathland that the New Forest is famous for. This is also the point of the first water station. Just like last year this part was windy, I took shelter behind another runner at this stage to try and block the wind as best I could. I don’t think he was too keen as he tried to accelerate away, this would have left me out in the open so I stayed with him and picked up another two runners in front and built a wind break. Mile 3 6:09/mi
In between mile 3 and 4 there was wild horses roaming free and amazingly they decided to run alongside us, this was just a spectacular encounter. They cut behind us before overtaking and then cutting across us once again to be on our right hand side once again. While overall this was exhilarating and they were at a safe distance, it was a little hairy and just just shows why this race is headphones free so you can spot dangers. A thank you to the Marshalls on bikes as soon as they spotted the danger they cycled back and prevented the horses from crossing once more and running on the road.
Just a the end of mile 4 you hit the only mildly significant hill on the course, I don’t know if it’s because I’m fitter now but I remembered this hill a lot worse than it actually was. As always I maintained the effort but this did cause me to drop off the pack that I was running with. Possibly in hindsight I should have pushed harder here but then again you don’t know the repercussions and this method has always served me well in the past. Mile 4 5:56 /mi
You now reenter the trees, it’s very sheltered here and it was quite muggy. Through this stage I was trying to eat into the gap I created on the hill but I the guys in front but was unable, I did consider putting in a hard shift but thought better of it as still too early in the race. Just like last year there is a person here cheering you on with a cow bell as you pass the entrance to Rhinefield House, this is a beautiful stately house converted in a hotel and well worth a stay. It’s here that you now leave the road and rejoin the track with a water station postioned here, I don’t normally take on fluids for this race distance but with it being so muggy I grabbed water swilled out my mouth and washed my face!! Mile 5 6:11 /mi
Miles 6 and 7 are just a blur and a sense of building frustration as I was still unable to close the gap on the Poole AC in front who had now started to fall of the pack as well. I set a 6:13/mi and 6:10/mi which in hindsight was fantastic but in the race itself I was just focused on trying to catch this guy! I also took an energy gel here in hope that it’s give me that something extra…you never quite know if it does or doesn’t but psychological it helps!
Through the miles 8 and 9 I started to tire and it was here I started to lambaste the course and question why I enjoyed this course last year, this was mainly down to me just sulking at not being able to catch the guy in front but it just felt like it was all on a incline and my legs were really getting sapped! I could also hear that I was being closed down by a runner behind as the claps from marshalls and spectators between me and them were getting less in time. Mile 8 6:20/mi Mile 9 6:24
I was still lead runner for the Harriers heading into the final mile and not knowing who was closing in me made we work that bit harder for the last mile. I also decide enough was a enough and it was time to give it my all if I’m going to catch the runner in front!! I pushed really hard in that last mile and finally closed the gap to the runner in front to about 5 yds, as we were approaching the field where it all began he either heard me coming or just decided to end it on a high as he up the pace and started to pull away again!! I just didn’t have anything left in my legs to respond and my attention now turned to the runner behind me and ensuring I wasn’t passed. As we entered the field I had a cheeky glance and could see that it wasn’t a Harrier so my 50 points were safe BUT my boys were on the finishing straight and well I don’t like to them to see be getting passed, I want them to see me as an all conquering SUPER DAD! I broke into a sprint for the finishing line knowing it’d be enough, I spotted my family so made bee line to them and gave big high fives. I crossing the line in 61:18 completing the last mile in 6:05 /mi
I finished 6 seconds behind the Poole AC runner which sounds minuscule but fair play to him bossed it on the day and I just could not catch him.
We disappointingly missed out on the team prize coming second but we consoled ourselves by having a some burgers, hot dogs all freshly cooked the BBQ and washed down with a few beers afterwards. Each learning about one another’s experiences out on the course and life in general. That’s the great thing about the club, while we all enjoy competing it’s equally matched in cheering one another on and having a bit of a social.
So the key question..would I do this race again? Yes of course, it’s excellently marshalled and has a wonderful atmosphere. The course while challenging at times (not helped when sulking) is just beautiful and overall enjoyable. The event is made even better by being able to make into a family day out or runners social gathering, my kids loved the kids races and being able to play in the massive field while afterwards it was great to have a BBQ and social gathering….and we weren’t the only group to do this either.