I saw Gill and Richard and a few other familiar faces there which was cool, and after getting my number and hiding from the rain for a bit, set off with Richard. We’d not seen each other since Piece of Cake so we had a bit of a natter, fell into the same pace, and just carried on running together for the whole race.
A few miles in it got a bit hairy – running through a field with a 4ft high stone wall to our left, a herd of maybe ten massive bulls started running towards us. As we were preparing to jump over the wall they veered away to the right, before turning back and charging at us, and towards the wall. As we’d kept running they ended up looping behind us, but they were that mad they didn’t even stop at the wall, some of them jumping it, some smashing through, and one getting stuck with its front legs over the wall and its back legs still in our field. We couldn’t believe what we’d seen, and just kept going to the end of the field, thanking our lucky stars we hadn’t opted for jumping over the wall when we’d first seen them, or we’d have been crushed.
After that it was all pretty uneventful. Despite the persistent rain the scenery was nice, and in the first half it wasn’t too hilly until we got to Hoad Hill at the halfway point and had to climb up to the top where the lighthouse sat with its head in the clouds. The second half of the race was a bit hillier, with a pretty sustained climb through miles 19-22, but nothing too nasty – at least not compared to any of my recent races. Overall I think the climb was around 1800ft, but all runnable (even though we had a few walking/eating breaks), and good underfoot.
For the last few miles the weather started to clear a bit, and we could see the lighthouse back at the finish getting closer and closer which was cool – although as we started the same ascent we’d made at halfway we weren’t too enthusiastic at the thought of having to climb to the top again. Fortunately we skirted past the trail we’d previously followed up to the top, and finished back where we’d started, finishing in 4:21.
This was the best I’ve felt during and after a race in ages, I ate more than the last few (syrup cake and flapjack mostly!), and chatting with Richard all the way round helped keep the pace down too. It was also less than half of the climb of my last few races, which I suspect was the biggest factor of all in making it feel less gruelling.
It was the first time the race has been put on, and pretty much everything was spot on. The route was brilliant, and the two loops of the full worked really well with the half. The lighthouse on the hill was neat and kind of made a feature of the finish which was cool too. Registration was all fine, although I hate it when they give you your t-shirt at the beginning – especially when they also make you park about a mile away from the race start. I couldn’t be arsed with a 2 mile walk in the rain before I started the race so I just stuffed my t-shirt in my bag and ran with it. Everything else was great though, marshals and checkpoints were well placed and well stocked, and a lot of the locals seemed to know what was going on so despite being pretty much in the middle of nowhere for a lot of the race there were still people about cheering us on which was cool. I’ll definitely do it again – although hopefully in the sunshine next time!