This just happens to be one of my favourite races in the GP diary. I first ran it 4 years ago where I was runner number 27, running on the 27th June (a glorious hot sunny day) and it was my – birthday ( you can do the maths). If ever the omens were going to be on my side this was going to be the day.
This was also prior to me ever putting a finger to keypad, in an attempt to write race reports, so that was one less report for you to have read.
I came 3rd in my age category which was amazing, but at that time not many people ran the race, so my chances were far better, as all the elite runners didn’t bother with this fun run. Now it is part of MT Grand Prix so the number of entrants, are far greater.
Naturally I had no hesitation in entering this race for the third time and was really looking forward to it. My only down side was that about two weeks earlier, I seemed to have reignited an old hip problem and this was causing me some discomfort. I was still able to run, but walking the following day was interesting. Zimmer frame at the ready.
So as always, alarm clock activated at 6:30 am. I’m up in time for a large mug of Red Bush tea, wholemeal toast and marmalade, Fantastic. Bag packed with dry clothes and assorted layers for running in, as outside it is decidedly grey, cold and dismal. Staple bag item of a “Snickers” bar and security hanky added along with flask of coffee and I’m ready for my journey up the A30.
It will be just “Sidney Skoda” and myself today as Julie is away on a trip to the Baltic and I believe it is far warmer where she is than it is here in not so sunny Cornwall. The wind is blowing at a gale force speed and as I approach the open section of A30 at Goss Moor I can see there is a cycling Time trial in progress. The cyclists are all in skin tight Lycra for extra aerodynamics not just for us girls pleasure (JFD instantly springs to mind) but they don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Heads down, bums in air and brick wall hit…..poor loves. Rather them than me, and even poor Sydney is being buffeted.
I arrive at Lanhydrock with plenty of time to spare and we car drivers are being ushered into the usual field for parking. Sydney isn’t that keen, but we make it over the tussocks and park where directed. There is plenty of space for everyone and no sign of any Glastonbury style mud for us to get stuck in on our way out. Phew.
Time to gather one’s kit and make the trek down to the very old marquee being used as the Race HQ. No sheltering from the wind, cold or possible rain for us in that nice big stately home across the road. In fact there is no room in the marquee, which only has three sides, either. We have to make do with huddling together in a field with the odd trip to the toilet block where you can warm up under a hand dryer. Very primitive but to date we haven’t tested this set up under inclement weather conditions.
I note that the usual potable loos that sit at a jaunty angle in the field above the start line are missing this year, but that isn’t a problem as the National Trust have two perfectly good toilet blocks for us to use. One for the gents and one for us ladies. They are clean, have soft toilet roll and there is no real queue for us to endure. There are hand dryers for us to warm up under so all in all just what is required today. No showers though for after the race, but there is always the river Fowey at the bottom of the hill.
So time to strip off the warm layers to just T-shirt, TRC Vest, shorts and gloves…..yes, it’s June, and I’m wearing gloves. Both Nick and I are comparing how white the tips of our fingers have turned. Mind you, Nick is doing one of his “Dirty old man in a rain coat” impersonations. His coat is a tad short and I can’t see any evidence that he has actually got running kit on underneath it. I hold my breath and he lifts his coat slightly stating “it’s all right Hana, I have got shorts on under here” well that’s a matter of opinion really; I do think it’s time Gok Wan paid him a visit. Might suggest that to Lynne, could make for an interesting social event?????
A team photo is taken by Claire who has already participated in the fun run, with her two gorgeous girls but has a 70th Birthday lunch to go to, so will not be running the main race. The Girls now sport fabulous medals and big smiles. You picked the wrong race Izzy for your 3 angles (Cubert provided shoe bags for those who aren’t in the know).
So off to the start line we all go, but it appears to have moved much further down the long Drive. I decide that I will jog to the start and Nick follows, moaning that I’m running at race pace. Do you not remember Nick, I only have one pace.
Now it is time to scan the competitors to see which of the far better V50 females are running today. Ah, my only hope will be a 4th place today, unless 10 miles suits me better than DG.
The race briefing is done by a Worzle Gummidge look alike, and it isn’t the same one that I saw at The Trelissick 10K. Maybe it is a requirement of the National Trust that to do this job, you must have hair like straw, a scarecrow’s hat and a ruddy complexion. On the plus side, his shorts were longer than Nick’s.
We were told the start line had been moved, due to building work in the main public car park and the race route through this area having to be shortened. This new start line meant we would be going uphill from the very beginning and I’m a downhill loving girl. Oh well on the plus side, I will be instantly warmed up. The air horn is activated (a bit like a wet f—t in a paper bag) and off we all go.
At the top of the drive we take the usual left turn and run along woodland tracks that wind down the valley. A male of similar age to myself (he too has hair of the same colour as mine, once described as “Brindle” I might add) and I note that in his right hand he is carrying a “SECURITY HANKY”. OMG this is the first time ever I have seen someone else carrying one. I don’t have a chance to engage in conversation with him on the merits of such an item as he is a racing whippet, and flies off into the distance.
At the bottom of the valley we turn right, wind along more trails where the going is firm to soft but not really muddy. You do have to chose the course you wish to take along these paths with regards to whether you are a middle of the path on the grassy tussocks sort of person, or a person who is happy to run on the rougher stonier ruts each side of the tussocks. I chose both options as I’m a woman and I can!
We are heading back uphill under the cover of large deciduous trees and then level out alongside the old walled gardens. It isn’t long before we drop back down onto tarmac just outside the main courtyard of Lanhydrock House to the cheers of a small band of supporters and a forlorn looking Andy G. ”Have you pulled out of the race” I shout at him. “Yes” he replies, so he instantly becomes “Handy Andy” and I thrust my sweaty gloves into his paws and run off, not even asking if he is OK. Having now seen the photo on FB of his leg (Dracula runs amok in the woods of Cornwall) I must apologise for being so inconsiderate of your plight Andy.
Up the road towards the main car park we all run, before we are headed off onto paths again. My right hip is starting to niggle a bit more, but I must grit my teeth and carry on. We run through a section of forest which last year had been rather damp and muddy, but they have felled a lot of trees and the path is wider which in turn causes us no problems whatsoever. At the bottom we are back out onto Tarmac on the road that leads from Bodmin Parkway railway station to Respryn Bridge. I am looking to see if the lead runners are heading back towards me as we are almost at mile 6 and it was at about this point last year, that I “High Fived” Isobel.
There is no sign of any lead runners at all, not even the men. We usually go out along the river and double back, so they should be at this point by now. I check my Garmin and I’m not running at a speed far greater than normal. Ummm where on earth are they? Maybe we are going a different way this year?
Up ahead I can see “DG”. She has been about 100m ahead of me for about 2 miles and I start to form a game plan in my head. If I match her pace until mile 8 then perhaps if God was willing or better still my legs were willing, I could chase her down and maybe give it my all in the last sprint to the finishing line and come in 3rd instead of 4th. I ran this through my brain twice, decided I would give it a go, and then found myself running up a hill we had already done and don’t usually repeat. I wasn’t alone; everyone else was going this way as well.
We pass the walled garden again, come out from under the trees and I can hear cheering ahead. OMG, I’m being told “This way to the finishing line”. I check my Garmin 7.3 miles, I panic, if I cross the line now, they will ban me from running forever for cheating (Great PB for 10 miles though). Everyone is being herded the same way and we all sport a bewildered look. I feel deflated and cheated. I was only just getting into my stride and I had a game plan for once, which I was now not able to utilise. Imerys Half wrong turn relived all over again, I was one very unhappy bunny!!!!!!!
I pick up my water, have a group moan with numerous fellow disgruntled runners, find there are no small T-shirts so have to settle for a medium instead then have another moaning session. Helen suggests that perhaps we should continue the run anyway. I decline and now regret this as it was bl—dy cold hanging around for the presentations.
TRC pick up 4 trophies. 2 for Izzy and two for the men, with the girls missing a team prize by coming 4th. There are a lot of what ifs. Would Izzy have come first if we had done the full 10? Would I have been able to catch and pass “DG” to pick up a 3rd in my category? Who knows, but thanks to an arrow not being turned around to face the correct way a great 10 mile race became a 7.3 disappointment.
So all in all:
- Parking, Plentiful and thankfully mud free.
- Toilets. Plentiful and thankfully mud free
- Course. Not as far as it should have been and almost mud free.
- Marshals. The ones I saw were cheerful, but as to whose fault the “Arrow” was I do not know. None with a whip though, unlike “Meet your max”
- Race memento. Burgundy cotton T Shirt which is the standard memento at this event.
Will I run this race again?
I love it too much to give up because of this year’s mix up. Hopefully lessons will be learnt and next year it will be as smooth as ever. The need for plenty of Marshalls was highlighted at this event, so runners remember this and make sure you offer your services when your club runs an event.