Report by Hana
I have to admit that I am in truth a lazy runner that buries her head in the sand with regards to pre race preparation, namely fuelling, hydration and training. I just plod along in a world of my own and hope for the best. I go out running 3 times a week, I walk daily and now that the weather has warmed up, I’ve brushed the dust off my bike and I’m back in tight lycra scaring motorists whilst knocking up the odd mile or two on the roads of Cornwall. I don’t do fartleks, hill reps or any other kind of rep, I cook all my meals from scratch (apart from the odd M&S £10 meal deal) and I’m a chocoholic needing a daily fix usually with my 2 mugs of freshly brewed coffee at 9am each morning. I drink wine daily (preferably red) which depending which news paper or magazine article you read is either good or bad for me. I do not carry water or any other hydration product whilst running and I do not ingest any water in races up to Half Marathon in length only pouring the stuff over my head during very hot weather.
So this leads me onto my pre race prep (Ha Ha) before the Lanhydrock 10. I spend Saturday cleaning the house, walking into town where “husband who plays golf” treats me to coffee and cake (chocolate of course) and then once the washing is hung out ( 3 loads) we both set out on a 24 mile bike ride around the lanes of Feock, St Day and Mount Hawke. I succeed in upsetting one female motorist is St Day, who decided that the narrow road that I had the right of way along, was for her sole use. So when I say politely “you could have waited” it literally lit the touch paper and oh my god did she go off on one, with every other word being the “F” word. I had to chuckle and cycled off smiling, thinking what a colourful world we live in.
My evening meal consisted of Venison Haunch steak, a medley of steamed green veg, new potatoes and a glass or two of Red wine followed by homemade Toffee yogurt cake and coffee. Now I’ll have to wait and see how I fare at Lanhydrock to see if this was good or bad preparation.
Sunday 21st arrives, and with a 10:30 race start there is no panic to get out the door at the crack of dawn. I eat my porridge with strawberries, pack “Sydney Skoda” and make my way up the A30 with Bono (U2) singing to me instead of Julie keeping me company.
Lanhydrock is nice and easy to locate with good National Trust signage and this year they are allowing us runners to park in their large car park, next to new the cycling hub, instead of the field at the top of the drive. “Sydney Skoda” is delighted as he really isn’t made for off roading, with his sporty front spoiler and lower profile tyres.
From the car park, it’s a 5 minute walk down to the race HQ, a small marquee on the grass to the left of the walkway/road to Lanhydrock house. As I’ve arrived early there aren’t very many people collecting their race numbers yet but DW is already in attendance with TRC’s envelope in his hands and he presents me with race number, No 54 and NO, this is not my age even if I look it! It isn’t long before TRC numbers grow, but in truth by current standards, we are only a small bunch of hardy souls today.
The weather APP on my phone had given the weather forecast for this day as being white cloud turning to black cloud at about 11am. It was correct on the white cloud front but as the race start time came ever nearer, so the white clouds started to part and glorious sunshine seeped through. I have a feeling this will be a very hot race and my security hanky will be working overtime.
I know this location well, so I’m fully conversant with the location of the toilets that are provided by the National Trust for us to use. There are none of the jauntily placed Portable ones in a field today, instead you have the choice of the toilet block at the main car park or there is one closer to the start area which is situated next to the stables and restaurant at the main house. I use the ones near the house and they are totally queue free on the two occasions I visit them. They are spotlessly clean with enough toilet paper to keep the runners and all the visitors to the estate happy. No complaints re this facility, but sadly there are no showers.
I have time to fraternise with a few of the regular race goers gathered and IR (BRR) envelopes me in a big hug. I did miss this last week at Holsworthy. I spot a “Bideford” runner who tells me that he enjoyed my “Ruby Run” race report which is nice to hear, as I know I do ramble on a bit in my blogs which appear to get longer each time I type one up. Maybe readers that happen upon these reports use them as an antidote to insomnia.
Time arrives to muster at the start line. What start line? The finish line is clearly marked by flags and the words Finnish and is situated on the Long Driveway that leads up from the lodge house at Newton (near Respryn Bridge) to the Gatehouse in front of Lanhydrock House, but the start line is nowhere to be seen. I remember from two years ago, that it was a little further down the hill from the finish line and suddenly like a swarm of bees all the gathering runners move as one down the slope with no one really knowing where they are going. From within this swarm the equivalent of a queen bee surfaces and guides us all almost down to the Lodge house at Newton. “Bl—dy hell” I mutter, that’s a long uphill start to this race; It’s like being back at Holsworthy once again. There is a lot of grumbling going on in the swarm but this is Cornwall and you either get a downhill start which is always preferable or an uphill one. There aren’t too many with a flat start, so time to just get on with it I think.
To my right and just ahead I can see IR and I hear him utter the word “whip”. He must be referring to me, and low and behold I am correct. He is telling another runner all about Truro’s “Meet your max” event and how back in 2013 I was stood at the bottom of the “stairway to hell” with a riding crop (or whip to the non-riders amongst you) in hand, assisting anyone reluctant to run up these steep steps. I have had a few requests to return but for the last two years I have been otherwise engaged……maybe in 2016 like Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back?
My lungs are twitching as the Queen Bee gives the pre race briefing and I’m already coughing in my irritating fashion. I could do with a good pummelling on the back, but I will just have to splutter all the way up the hill and see if the lungs will clear by themselves.
1,2,3 she shouts and we are off and god it feels like we are going up a mountain. My lungs immediately protest as do my legs. I can’t talk, but the general chatter around me from those that still have breath, is of discontent. We all proceed up the long drive towards the house and thankfully it is nowhere as long as the one that runs from Windsor castle to the Copper Horse. When this tree lined driveway finally ends we are directed off to the left and with large yellow marker arrows we head left again and down through Great Wood along a dry, hard, dirt track with the occasional drainage hump (along the lines of a speed hump but smaller) placed in just a way that if you are not paying full attention you take your first steps towards unaided flight and then plummet to the ground with a painful thud. I attack these small humps the way the 8yr old child I once was would, and pretend I’m a horse in a show jumping arena (I was an only child who lived in the middle of nowhere and had to make my own entertainment and wanted to ride horses).
I catch up with RP who asks how I’m doing, “not good” Is about all I can splutter in between coughing but somehow I manage to overtake him and then catch up with MM-S further down this path. “I thought it was you approaching” he announces, “I could tell by the coughing”.
Well then, from that observation, it would appear that there is no point in me applying for any covert MI5 jobs, as my prey would hear me long before they saw me! Having said that, I could hear from somewhere behind me, a male who was making a cough like noise on every second breath, and even I don’t do it that frequently…….. Or do I?
Towards the bottom of this track we veer right then left then right onto a track taking us back uphill with a sharp right hand turn passing Ford Plantation. My lungs are not coping, male with cough is nearing and I have to resort to walking. We are only 1.5 miles into this race and I’m walking. Well better this than collapse in a heap or end up vomiting and before I know it I’ve reach a plateau and I can start to run once again.
We pass Garden Cottage to our right and then drop back down in front of the House where supporters are cheering us runners on our way back up another hill, the one leading to the main visitor entrance to the estate. Three quarters of the way up we are signed right towards the Estate office building and then down through Colgare plantation. Here the path is once again a dirt one which is only marginally softer under foot than the previous ones we’ve run along so far. In fact I can feel many of the harder objects through my trail shoes, which would fare better on a softer muddier surface. Maybe I should have worn my road to trail shoes instead?
At the bottom of this track we take a sharp turn left up a steep-ish section of public road before turning right into Costislost Plantation. Hallelujah we are on a lovely downhill where I realise that my lungs have settled and I start to enjoy this race. The scenery is lovely, the route is testing and my body has sprung various leaks. I have so much salty liquid pouring out of all my pores that if you dried me, scraped me and then potted the wine infused salt it could be used later to season a casserole.
Time to turn right and we are running along the tarmac private road that leads from Bodmin Parkway railway station to Respryn, where we are guided across the public road and onto a vehicular track passing Newton house. I’m so hot my face feels as if it going to explode and there on my right is a granite trough set into the hedge full of water and a Spaniel. A very happy Spaniel, in fact a Spaniel who is having a wonderful time cooling off in crystal clear refreshing spring water. I’m so tempted to hoist the dog out and fully submerge my head in an attempt to stop the nuclear fusion that is taking place in it, before the critical melt down phase kicks in, but its owner is stood next to it. I decide the best option is to leave the Spaniel well alone and continue my melt down quietly as I continue on my way.
At mile 5 we turn right onto a track where there are posts with markings upon them relating to the “Park runs” they hold at Lanhydrock. We are in Higginsmoor wood which takes us down along the edge of the River Fowey and a path that weaves its way through the trees. I hear a huge splash and panic at the thought that maybe some poor unsuspecting runner had fallen into the said river. I wonder if I would be able to rescue them, the river doesn’t appear that deep and as I get closer to the splashing, I find one large dog having a wonderful time cooling off in the river. How come all the dogs are having so much fun, I mull over this thought and then tell myself that once the race is over I could always join them for a post race cool down?
We trot across a wooden footbridge and drop down onto the opposite side of the river before crossing Respryn Bridge and the NT car park situated there. The race route skirts the right hand edge of this car park through a small gate and out onto a footpath, where for the first time this year we have stepping stones to negotiate. I manage to tiptoe across them without incident but a board walk section follows close by and this is where, for some, things go terribly wrong.
You see, there is a marshal just before the two narrow boarded sections and he tells you to be careful as you cross the first board. Then immediately after this board the route veers left along a tree root infested narrow path but to your right is another boarded section and a path off it to the right. I follow the runners going left, the correct route, where up ahead I can see the road. At the road the runners ahead of me are being directed left but I can also see a male running towards them from the right and he is muttering something at the Marshal stood there. It would appear that he and many others took the second boarded section which took them on an extended unplanned additional section of this race. This takes me back to Imerys 2013 where both me and about 20 others took a wrong turn and ran an extra mile. It was my own fault for following like a sheep, but Imerys have addressed the problem and now at that point they have a marshal in place. The Lanhydrock race director will need to sort this section of the route out and to be honest all it requires is one of their bright yellow arrow signs and maybe some tape across the other path?
The race route crosses a lane and onto a hard compressed multi use path through Timber Wood and Hart Wood, a path which is signed as a cycle route. As a cyclist I would take a mountain/hybrid or touring bike along this path but not a posh racing bike. We are now on a long climb ever upwards where there isn’t much in the way of shade. Ahead of me I can see MM-S and he is approaching this hill in a walk/run style. I’m slowly plodding up in a short stepped jogging motion and somehow I pass by and continue without slowing to walking pace. Maybe last week’s run in Devon has shown me that I can actually, when I put my mind to it, just plod up these hills.
To my rear I can hear IR and I know he is going to want to overtake me. We reach the top of what felt like an endless hill where I pass the water station at mile 7.5 without stopping, not even to throw a cup of water over my head and the route takes us onto another cycling section through a plantation of tall pine trees and I feel as if I’ve been transported into the middle of a “Sega Mega Drive” game. It’s the Jurassic Park game, I can’t remember which level it was, but it’s the level I could never go beyond, where you are chasing a fast moving dinosaur through a forest of tall pine trees on a motorbike. This is the point in my life where I said enough is enough and I’ve not played a video game since. Here I am though reliving this game but this time I’m the dinosaur and IR is hot pursuit.
The path weaves left and right and I have lost all sense of direction. Immediately in front of me is a female Newquay Road Runner with “Ali” on her race vest. I tuck in behind her and I can sense she knows I am hot on her heels. I decide that as we still have another 2 miles to go, I shouldn’t even attempt to overtake and so I let her set the pace, which I try to keep up with. I’m not sure if I’m making her run faster than normal but it has stopped me from dropping my race pace.
Finally we break free of this pine section and I can leave the thoughts of dinosaurs behind. Instead we are running through the new cycle hub area and the route has been marked out with cones to keep us away from the pedestrians sat drinking tea, messing with cycle hire and cheering us poor exhausted runners on. We are now in the final mile, the route is nigh on flat with the last ¼ mile being downhill. “Ali” has gone into “Let’s beat this Old Croc properly” mode and I don’t have young enough legs to attempt to catch her up. I do though accelerate as I join the private road down to Lanhydrock house overtaking the shuttle buggy thingy that the disabled are driven down to the house in. I can see the finish line and cross it in 1:27:40, a 3 minute improvement on my previous time which must be down to both IR and Ali pushing me on, so here’s a “thank you” to you both.
I grab two cups of water, a purple cotton memento T-shirt and a banana then stagger out of the way of those still coming in. I’m joined by MW who tells me about the extended route many runners have taken, which has gone on to lose them time and age cat wins. Oh dear, I fear a Facebook backlash later on.
After a quick session in the back of my dear “Sydney Skoda” ………………………..with a pack of baby wet wipes if you please………… I materialise slightly less salt streaked and wander back down to the race HQ tent with my Hydration Flask at the ready. Hot fresh coffee is what this woman needs and a “Snickers” bar to soak up some of the liquid. MW wishes he had done the same, so Aunty Hana gives him some pocket money, points him in the direction of the cafe and he too can have coffee.
Truro only wins one prize this week, so well done Nigel.
MW misses out due to his unplanned race extension and I only manage 4th in my age cat. Oh well another PB will have to do.
So all in all:
- Car Parking: Free and plentiful.
- Toilets: Queue free, clean and well supplied.
- Marshals: Lets remind ourselves that they are all volunteers and they did a great job, especially with all the woodland we ran through and the numerous paths therein. One piece of tape or an arrow was all that was missing.
- Race memento: A cotton T-shirt, something that we rarely see these days.
- The race route: Hilly but beautiful taking you through the wooded sections of this fabulous National Trust Estate, with very little public road to run along. It also makes for a great family day out.
- Will I run this race again: I would have thought so, and if you enjoyed this race/run then you should think about running the Cornwall Fire and Rescue Half Marathon in February, which starts and finishes at the Dragon Leisure Centre, and takes in large parts of the Lanhydrock Estate.
8 out of 10 Lanhydrock, you just need to sort out the Start Line and the one piece of missing tape to score 10.