Offa’s Orror

The name speaks for itself, this was a run which was both really good fun and as the name suggests, orrable! Before I get into the details of the run I just have to say how well organised the whole event was, and the Chepstow running club really know how to sort out an event.

The race itself was one that Gareth found, with an email recieved a couple of months before with the link and a smiley. So having said yes, the time had come for a proper trail run in Wales. Following a drive to up to a Premier Inn not to far from the race location the night before, we were able to get a good nights sleep and get up at a reasonable 8am. After a continental breakfast, including the biggest bowl of porridge I have ever seen, we were set.

Heading over the bridge to Wales the bufferflys started to get worse, even though its not like I am going to win a race (not even close!) race day nerves still kick in. We left quite early so had plenty of time, stopping at a tea shop in an old train station for a quick pre-race cuppa. From here we could see the what we think was (not 100% sure) the hill we were going to be running up.

The photo doesn’t do it justice, it looked a monster. Knowing the profile of the course we knew that there would be a big hill right from the word go, I hoped it wasn’t this one. We finished our tea, got in the car and headed to the course to pick up our numbers

Collecting our numbers was not as simple as it could have been, well for Gareth anyway. Giving his name it appeared that his number (114) had already been given away to another Gareth Davies, the organisers were really helpful and Gareth just had to fill in another form and get a new number. We did keep a lookout for the imposter on the run, but didn’t ever spot him.

Numbers attached we took a quick moment to capture some before photo’s and then headed to the starting line.

The start was a mass go, with a long uphill on a narrow lane ending in a bottleneck. With this in mind and seeing some of the runners here, we opted to start from the middle. The horn went and it was a start of a fairly long uphill slog, with a lot of walking being involved as it was the most efficient way of maintaining a reasonable pace.

What goes up must come down and the advertised “Lemmings Leap” was nothing short of insane, when you look at the profile on the race details at the bottom of the blog you can see how my pace just slows to a stop, this is how hard decending this hill was. The mud was so slippery and the incline so steep that I simply didn’t have the confidence or the experience. I actually stacked it, loosing my footing and slipping over, landing quite hard on my hand. Luckly there was no injury to my legs so I was able to continue with only mild embarressmen and a slightly bruised hand.

The decent finally leveled out into a lovely riverside run and we were able to make up some time, I had gone into this run with the mindset of not racing, just enjoying the run itself but we still didn’t want to finish last. This trail continued for about 4 miles and was pretty flat, we also passed the first of the aid stations with much welcome water and to top it off some Jelly Babies. Choking on Jelly Babies and Water briefly we headed on to the cross over point on the figure of eight course to the second uphill, again adopting a walking strategy the summit was reached and it was a nice long decent to bring the race home.

I managed to stack it again tripping over a root, I was too busy looking at the surroundings and not paying attention on the trail itself, lesson learnt! Getting towards the last part of the race we were presented with the most unwelcome site, another uphill which sapped the energy from both of us. Thankfully that was the last of them, and we both crossed the line at the same time.

Coming it at 2hrs 12mins I was pretty pleased, given the course itself, after the race we spoke to a lady and she said that she had run the race 6 years in a row and that this year it was a new course which was harder, this made me feel better. This didn’t seem to be a problem for the race winner though who did it in an unbelieveable 1hr 20min.

Overall a brilliant race, well organised and great location. This will be one to add to the race calander for 2013.

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