I really enjoyed this race last year so was delighted to see it featured in the Club Championship again this year. Organised by the Dorset Doddlers the race is over 10.1 miles with roughly 1500 ft of elevation taking in the three peaks of Dorset which are Okeford Hill, Hod Hill and Hambledon Hill.
So I ran this last year in 72.51 and was aiming for something similar as I’ve been hampered with niggles following the Trail Series and not been able to consistently put in the miles or effort.
The important thing was that I secured first or second Harrier to keep me ahead in the CC.
After a nice gentle warm up we joined the 500 field of runners and headed to the front of the start line. Once given the brief we were set off on way. I tried to find a quickish pace for the first mile which is a little undulating as knew it was important to not get bottlenecked on the first climb. I hit mile 1 at 7:36 and I was placed in the top 20, last year I ran walked Okeford Hill but after the hills I’ve run recently I decided to just give it a go and run it. This was quite brutal on my quads but I was now determined and made it to the top where I quickly forced a turn of pace. The views from the top were just magnificent and as I ran along the crest I was joined by this beautiful white and tan horse, in a field, watching and running beside me which I just stared at in adoration. Mile 2 8:14
The route then settles out a bit with a few small ups and downs but no more than what you’d expect in a trail race, after the steep climb I just wanted to put in a good pace and went through mile 3 at 6:09.
This was when the real fun began! The following mile was all down hill, so I went all guns blazing on this descent and passed quite a few runners. The chalk path was quite greasy which meant that I had to run in the growth on the side but I clocked this mile 4 in 5:08.
There is then a challenging incline before it drops again and then flattens out. Mile 5 7:00
You then enter the village of Durweston where there is a road crossing, excellently marshalled as quite a busy road, before you cross the River Stour; here you run alongside a lovely weir, a place you quite frankly want to stop at and take in but all you get is a quick head left head right and move on. You then run along this beautiful golden stream till you pass the church and ready yourself for peak number 2. I was loving this mile, it was just sensory overload! Mile 6 6:07
I then began the climb up Hod Hill which while tough is my favourite hill on the course, yes it’s physically demanding but with it being so open you can see for miles around over the valleys and surrounding woods which with the variance in autumn colours was just fantastic. Mile 7 8:38
It is now you face the final peak and it’s an absolute BEAST!! Named pleasantly Hambledon Hill there is nothing pleasant about this hill, to start you have an almost vertical climb which no one can run, at this point your legs are shot! This then continues with a steady climb to the peak. My lack of mileage had now kicked in and I didn’t feel as strong, I asked a marshall if anyone was behind and she said no not for ages so I took my foot of the pedal to maintain my legs for the downhill and finish. Mile 8 9:31
When I got to the descent I again went for it but it’s in a field and there was quite a lot of ruts and unevenness so a bit more care was needed, I prefer it this way as like the technicalities. When at the bottom the route turns left which made me glance up and there coming down the hill was Club Captain Steve, so much for the marshal telling me there was no one for ages!! Mile 9 5:46
Knowing Steve was now chasing me down for first Harrier spot put a rocket up my arse and I went all out over the next mile, passing a runner in the process. I gave myself a glimpse over my shoulder on the final straight and couldn’t see him which allowed me to enter the old railway station platform finishing in ease at 70:47, two minutes quicker than last year.
Overall I’m pleased with how the run went particularly with my stunted training. It was nice to finish 9th in a strong field and win some beer for the 2nd team prize too.
So would I do this race again? Yes with or without it featuring in the Club Championship, it’s a tough 10 mile route but it’s enjoyable at every stage. It’s really well organised and the setting is fantastic. It’s also really cool that you finish in the disused railway station.