Category Archives: Race Review

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.

Race Report – Human Race, Asics Off Road Series – Trailman

I can probably sum up the Trailman in three words: Mud and Hills. This was my second Human Race event, with the Wildman earlier in the year and as I have come to expect the event didn’t dissapoint. The last race of the Asics Off Road Series (which comprises of the Iceman, Mudman, Wildman, Tuffman and Trailman) the event hosts a Duathlon, 6km run and 13km run.

Deciding that the 13km run was the one to go for, myself and two others (Gareth and Matt) were up nice and early to head down to Eridge Park for a 10am race start. I have run at Eridge park before for the Major series and sort of knew what the terrain was going to be like but had underestimated how bad the mud would be.

Upon arriving we had to go collect our race numbers, me being 392, collected our excellent race T-Shirts and then headed back to the car to get ready and then sit and wait for the start.

9:45 arrived and it was time to head up to the start line (following a quick pre-race wee), having seen the race map I was aware that the start would be a steady downhill, which I hoped help me get into the swing of things before the inevitable uphill. A quick pre-race briefing and we were off. We had started pretty much at the front of the field and the quick pace I was having at the beginning was short lived as I hit the first of the muddy ground, it wasn’t deep but very slippy underfoot which slowed me down and I wasn’t able to keep the pace I had hoped the downhill then levelled out, and the mud got deeper.

It was at this point that I realised I had made a mistake, having not anticipated the amount of mud my trainers were not as tight as they could of been and as I was striding happily along suddenly I had a wet sock. Looking back my left trainer was embedded in the mud, causing me to stop, turn around (sock getting wetter and muddier) collect my trainer, put it on again (wet muddy sock now inside trainer) and head off again. This resulted in me losing a number of  places in the field but more importantly I was thrown off my pace (and had a wet foot) however, the good news was that by left foot wasn’t  going to be lonely and the right soon joined in.

After this short but costly error, the course headed uphill. This hill went on for EVER, everytime I thought it was going to end more appeared. I dropped to a walk as it was more efficient to do this than try and run the hill, and by then my legs had started to give me some pain down the outsides of the calf muscle. With the continuous hill this only seemed to get worse and I was getting concerned that I had done too much in the week and hadn’t tapered properly. When I finally got to the top of the neverending hill my legs were screaming at me.

The levelling out helped somewhat but it wasn’t long before another uphill occured and with the mud, the I couldn’t maximise on the down anyway as half the time I was having to pigeon step my way to stop slipping over.

On these runs they have people running with dogs, the owner being strapped into a harness while the dog runs ahead(at points I was wondering if I could get pulled along as well!!). This isn’t really a problem, but I did have one of the dogs stop, squat down and take a poo right in front of me which wasn’t exactly pleasant, but hey I guess if you have got to go you’ve got to go.

Being split into essentially two loops meant that the course took us over the Start/Finish after the first 7km loop (this was slightly incorrect which i will detail at the end of the post), before heading out to the 6km loop. I grabbed some water at the station and carried on, hoping the second loop wouldd be more forgiving than the first, it wasn’t.

More uphills, more mud meant that the going was tough and despite it being cool out, I was pouring with sweat. About 9km in there was a sharp decent which was difficult to navigate due to the slippy nature of the mud and by then any tread I had on my trainers was caked in mud and totally ineffective. This continued until a muddy bog which covered both my trainers completly, but hey, at least they both stayed on!

So, I had gotten to the bottom of the hill and through the bog, and you guessed it, it was back uphill again. Again a mix of running and walking, I got chatting to a guy you had done all of the runs in the series so far and he said that this was by far the toughest, which helped aleviate some of the frustration I was having not going as fast as I had hoped.

Reaching the top of the last big uphill it was a long downhill to the finish line, picking up the pace to try and claw back some time I crossed in 1hour 13minutes and 41 seconds averaging a 6:12min/km pace (read slow). A much appreaciated Lucozade sport handed to me and that was it, done.

I mentioned earlier that the distance was slightly off, in the end the course worked out at 11.9ish km, just over a full km off the advertised length, with the first loop being just under 6km and the second being 6km. Not really an issue as it was a hard run, but if it comes up short your always left thinking “if I had known I may have pushed harder”.

All in all, this was an brilliant event and I will be hopefully undertaking all the runs in the series for 2012/13 as they are well organised, with good marshalls and support, but most importantly decent T-Shirts 🙂

Link to Race on Runkeeper: Runkeeper Anthony Clark

Link to Human Race: Human Race Event Management – The Asics Off Road Series