The Ruby Run 2014

Report from Hana

Ruby Run, Devon 2014
That doesn’t look like a glass of red!

From time to time I can be found trawling the internet on the lookout for …………………..No, not dating sites, one man in my life is all I can cope with, Half Marathon races is what I’m looking for. Ones that I haven’t run before, that are within reasonable travelling distances. Last year I spotted the Ruby Run and considered entering it but I think it clashed with a trip to Birmingham, so this year it had to be run as it would help me in my quest to run 13.

So Half marathon No 8 entered, map printed off as I will be travelling into unknown territory without the aid of a Sat Nav or front seat passenger to direct me to my end destination…….Hatherleigh. I’ll also need an early alarm call as I need to be there by 8:30 to catch the bus.

The Ruby Run is a one way race with the start either being at Holsworthy or Hatherleigh, alternating each year. This year the start and race HQ will be at Holsworthy and the finish line, showers and prize giving at Hatherleigh. A bus is provided to transport those who require transport between the two towns, so I opt to park at Hatherleigh. There are two time slots for the bus departure, so I decide to aim for the first bus which leaves at 08:30, as if I have any hold ups on the drive up and miss the first bus, they might be able to squeeze me onto the second one. This of course means a very early wake-up call of 06:00, so I have time to sort myself out and eat some breakfast before heading up the A30 towards Okehampton and veering left into Ruby country.

Car packed, Muesli, yoghurt and Blueberries consumed and up the A30 “Sydney Skoda” and I travel. The road is almost devoid of traffic, Radio 2 keeps me company and in no time at all, I reach the turning off the A30 where you join the A386 (Sourton Cross). There is a “service area” at this junction, well a small car parking area, a portable building serving tea, coffee etc…And a toilet block. I decide to test this facility out, the toilets that is, and very good they are too. Stainless steel toilet seats clean and tidy throughout and plenty of soft toilet rolls, with no queue for the loo either! What more could a girl want.

I’m now back in the car heading off along the A386 looking for the signs to Hatherleigh. The scenery is predominately green, green fields, green hedges, green forests and green woodland. (For any of you road cyclists reading this, this looks like a fantastic area for having a fast ride along “A” roads with good road surfaces, fantastic all round vision and the possibility of a good 35+ mile circular route with little traffic.) I reach Hatherleigh without getting lost, follow the signs to the Market Car Park and then have to decipher the parking charges. On a Sunday you appear to have free parking before 12 noon, well that’s what one sign tells me but another sign states that parking is free up to 1pm. This must be to keep the church goers happy!  I’ll still be running between 12 and 1pm, so how on earth am I going to pay for parking. I ask some fellow racers who are also studying the same sign as me and they have no idea either. Reluctantly I insert enough money to cover three hours of parking (60p) into the ticket machine and hey presto, a ticket is produced stating I have parking up to 3pm. This is going far too well, time to locate the bus.

A short walk away by the Hatherleigh Community Centre is a full size coach and onto this I climb along with about 20 others. We are then driven at a very sedate speed the 13 miles to Holsworthy which gives me a chance to see the sort of terrain we will be running back along. Undulating is the word that springs to mind, not majorly hilly and the lady in the seat behind me states that we are going to be running the easier of the two directions. I’m not convinced, only time will tell.

The bus arrives at Holsworthy and we are directed to the Race HQ in the Tourist Information Centre. There a small queue has formed waiting to pick up race numbers or enter the race. I have been advised in advance that I am race No 217, but as I give them my number and name I am told it has been changed to 219.  Let’s hope they have put the correct info into the computer as I would hate to cause a faster runner to end up with my much slower time.

Now it’s time to sit and wait. I have 1 1/2hrs to kill, but as with most races, I find that we “Old crocs” whether male or female, seem to congregate together in small groups. We are the age group who aren’t permently glued to Facebook or Twitter or surfing the net. This is mainly due to the fact that we don’t possess either the technology, knowhow to be able to do this, oh yes the other factor being, we can’t be arsed. What we do, do well, is engage in the dying art of conversation. I’m soon joined by a male from Launceston running club who knows Chris Ramsey (same age cat) then Jenny from the same club appears and another lady who is returning to racing after having countless children.

Time passes quickly; I munch on two rectangles of Kendal Mint Cake, walk once around the car park then test out the toilets. They are very clean, quite new and with about 5 cubicles and with not many ladies waiting there are no long queues either. They are typically functional standard partitioned cubicles with minimal space, but plenty of toilet roll. What more do you need really. There are sinks to wash your hands and that’s about it. No complaints at all and if the queue had been long there were public toilets out next to the tourist info car park.

An announcement is made, that it is time to make our way to the start line, which involves following some army cadets, passing “Waitrose” (how come Okehampton and Holsworthy have Waitrose?) where we end up at the bottom of a HILL. The start line is at the bottom of a HILL, how horrid is that?

It was cloudy when I arrived at Holsworthy, but the sun keeps forcing its way through the clouds. The weather forecast at the beginning of the week, suggested it would be heavy rain on this day, but the temperature is rising the sun is out and I don my sun glasses in preparation for the start. I’m not sure which would be worse to run in, torrential rain or hot sunshine?

There wasn’t much of a pre race briefing. Basically we have to keep left at all times. The road was open to traffic (this is the A3072) and we would be sharing it with the charity walkers who were also walking the same route and distance. We would have water stations every two miles and that was about it. Horn sounds and off we go, up that bl—dy hill.

Amazingly my lungs and legs cope well with this hill, we climb for about 1 ½ miles before it sort of levels out. From this point on the road undulates with slight ups and downs and views across green fields, forests and woodlands. We have to share the road with the usual Sunday traffic and for an A road it wasn’t too bad, but a few cars could have done with taking a little more care passing us runners and walkers.

I had noticed one small white car, which kept passing me with the loan male inside shouting “come on Truro you’re running well”. This car kept stopping in lay-bys as well and I started to wonder if I had attracted one of the local perverts, which is about the only male I seem to attract these days, but I later found out it was in fact, the husband/partner of a fellow runner from Okehampton, who I got talking to at both the Drogo 10 and The Armada Half last year.

We pass place names such as Anvil Cross and Brandis Corner, where I couldn’t see any corners, but there was a pub with people already outside cheering us on. The sun was out in full force, the temperature felt hot to very hot with the odd respite when I caught a breeze across my dissolving face. My Security hanky was having to wipe the sweat from my eyes and moustache. I was even thinking that a shower of rain would be refreshing, and on looking at my Garmin I could see I was running well, probably too well and after Tuesdays PB at Cubert this could all go horribly wrong if I didn’t conserve some energy. The hill at mile 7.5 soon did that, as both myself and the two males ahead of me all slowed to a walking pace. Complete not compete that’s the motto!

The support along the route has been really quite good considering we don’t pass through any villages we just run along the main road from Holsworthy to Hatherleigh. At Highhampton we pass another pub and the temptation to go in and sample a large glass of chilled Chenin Blanc had to be pushed to the back of my mind.

There were lots of opportunities to take on water along the route of this race which was being handed out in 500ml bottles. This produced tons of waste in the hedgerows and at least 95% of the bottles had only about one slurp of water consumed from them before being thrown in the hedge. As I reached mile 12 my will to live, plus my ability to run was fading faster than I could put one foot in front of the other. I was in melt down mode once again, so at the water station at this location I stopped, grabbed a bottle of water, took one sip and then poured the rest over my head and back and onto my Hanky so that I could wipe my face. God did this feel good, even if I looked as if I had had a bladder malfunction. It was just enough to give me the impetus to carry on.

The last mile took us into the modern built up area of the small market town of Hatherleigh, down the pavement to a roundabout by the community centre where I caught the bus and then UP HILL to the finish line. I ran slowly up this hill and crossed the line in a respectable time of 1:49:32 ish (no official times on line yet) which I was really pleased with. I would have been happy with 1:59. My first words as I stopped were “SH-T” much to the merriment of some elderly supporters within hearing distance. Two cups of water grabbed, one banana which as my hands were full and my fingers swollen due to the heat, the lady dishing them out had to unpeel for me, and then I was able to collect my Technical “Ruby Run” T shirt. Time to use the “advertised in the race info” Showers.

I stagger down the hill to the Community Centre and the baggage collection point and showering area. The army cadets have done a fantastic job with the bags. As you approach the centre one cadet on a two way radio tells the others inside your number and as you walk in, your bag is there ready and waiting. Brilliant!

“So where’s the showers guys?” I ask and they point me in the direction of a corridor where a door has an A4 piece of paper stuck to it with “Ladies Showers” written on it. I push the door, I pull the door, I give it a hard shove……nothing happens. I ask a passing male to try, still nothing. The bl—dy door is locked. No choice then, with every inch of my body soaked and my running kit stuck to me. I’ll have to go in with the men. A little voice shouts, “Hana come in here” and the lovely lady from Launceston (Jenny) has found the disabled shower so we lock ourselves in. God that shower was good, but due to it being a wet room, and us users having very long showers, we may have caused some slight flooding to the corridor. Oh well at least I was clean and now able to function as a human once again.

I decide to stay for the presentations find a cafe doing take away teas and sit in the square with Jenny and her friend.  As I walk towards the finishing area tears form in my eyes as we all stop to applaud a lady who has been pushed in a wheel chair along the route and who I believe is a cancer sufferer. The wheelchair has stopped about 50m from the finishing line; she struggles out of the chair with help from her friends and walks the last 50m to cross the line. This makes running pale into insignificance, she had achieved far greater things.

The age cats are in 10 yr segments and I don’t win any prizes but Jenny does. She is over 65 but wins the over 55 section without any problems. I would never stand a hope in hell against her and she only ran this race as there wasn’t anything else on the calendar this weekend. Mind you she prefers marathons and ultras…….I won’t be doing that when I’m an “even older croc”.

So all in all:

  1. Parking plenty and cost me 60p. There may have been some free parking near the bus pick up area but I can’t confirm this.
  2. Race HQ. Excellent
  3. Toilets. Excellent.
  4. Route. You cannot at any time get lost. It’s along an A road, so traffic could be problematic but I didn’t have any problems myself.
  5. Goodie bag. Technical T so very good for a £14 entry fee.
  6. Will I run this race again? Probably not but then again next year is another year.