today saw my first go at a ‘challenge walk’.
the charnwood marathon is an event for runners and walkers of 16 or 26 miles. despite it only being a few miles from home, i was unaware of it until i read about it in t.g.o. magazine last week. it was in their events listings with nothing more than a title and an email address. even google failed to yield much information, with only the events own website (which leaves a little to be desired) and steph cooke’s report of the 2007 race.
i can only assume that the entry fee goes to charity and the excellent volunteers who ran the event gave their time freely. i made contact with carol, the organiser and arranged for me to collect registration on the morning of the event.
so at 7.30, i arrived at quorn village hall, not really knowing what to expect. first thing that i was surprised by were the sheer numbers of people milling around and preparing themselves in various ways, from sucking hard on thermal mugs of coffee (ok, that was me) to rubbing embrocation into their calves. in the hall, there were plenty of people to shepherd us into the right queue and deal with registration, route queries etc.
(i later learned that 387 people took part)
to start the race, a town crier rang his bell – but not before telling a gag that got the crowd laughing – i wonder if he used the same line to start the later race.
the route takes in all the high places of charnwood – broombriggs, beacon hill, mount saint bernard’s, bardon hill, copt oak and, rather harshly, old john after 20.5 miles!
even though i was in the walker’s group (that starts at 8am – the runners start at 9), there were still plenty of people who jostled for position and broke into a run before we had done 1/2 a mile – we didn’t see these people again for the duration – i’m not sure what was to be gained by entering the walker’s event and then running…
what was comical was a late middle-aged couple who kept running past us, bustling along in a flurry of gore-tex and flapping of map cases, only for us to meet them further down the trail as they emerged from yet another wrong turn they’d taken.
despite an hour’s headstart, the first runner passed me after only around a third of the distance. he was flying. i wouldn’t be passed by another runner for a good ten minutes.
weather conditions were perfect and despite heavy rain at times through the week, the course wasn’t nearly as muddy as i though it might be.
bardon hill, the highest place in leicestershire was the halfway point and checkpoint 4. never having been up there, it was amazing to see the huge hole that you look straight down into from the trig point.
past a few more local landmarks
i’d promised myself an ice cream at hall gates, knowing that as there was only another 5 miles to go from there and needing something to keep me going
over the great central railway near swithland and there were dozens of twitchers (or whatever the train spotting equivalent of a twitcher is) waiting for the guest loco. i got a decent view as the path passed right next to the line as ‘tornado’ steamed past.
leicestershire’s renowned boggy paths weren’t going to let us get off clean and sure enough, the final path down into quorn proved to be a mudfest.
i was back in 6 hours and 49 minutes. i reckon i was one of the first back who actually walked. it was hard work and i expect going up and down stairs could be difficult in the morning. it was however a great route, a very well organised event and excellent practice for our attempt at the leicestershire round in 3 weeks time…