Today, I ran my second race of the year- the New Forest Running Festival Open 10k.
I almost didn’t end up running, as my husband Glen was up all night vomiting and neither of us got much sleep. This morning, he felt too ill to run, but after something to eat, he decided to make the drive down to Hampshire and make the call when we arrived.
The 10k was due to start at 2.15pm, but we arrived around midday, and met up with another Team Naturally runner- Felicity and her husband Tim. Just realised I didn’t get any photos of us together!
The race HQ was at a campsite- which meant there were lots of toilet facilities, plus showers, free carparking, a pub and shop on-site! A few of the wild New Forest ponies were wandering around the site watching runners prepare for the race!
As part of the New Forest Running Festival there were several races taking place over the weekend, including a half-marathon, ultra-marathon, 20 miler, ladies-only 10k and a ladies-only half-marathon. We saw the last few runners from the 20 miler arriving back at the finish line, while we were waiting for our race to start. The weather alternated between bright sunshine and hail-stones- so we sheltered in the pub until the start time.
Around 130 runners were registered for the 10k, but they announced there had been about 25 no-shows, so it was a small group of 105 runners. The start was very casual, with no start-line, we simply lined up outside the pub and when someone shouted go- we were off!
The first mile of the race was an out-and-back loop on the open road- I could immediately see how hilly this race would be as we shot off on a steep decline. After doubling-back, the route took us up and into the forest. The route was beautiful- the gravel tracks took us deep into woodland, with tall trees on either side, gentle streams alongside the path and a few rabbits scampering into the bushes. I didn’t catch sight of any ponies, but there were plenty back at the campsite!
I must admit I had to walk after only 1.25 miles- the hills were so steep! I’ve had the luxury of running mainly flat races up until now, but this was a different story! Despite walking, I was keeping a fairly good pace- there were no mile markers at this race, but I kept an eye on my Tom Tom watch. At mile 2.5, there was a water station, but this was the only one I saw along the route.
The course split at one point, for the half-marathoners (who started 15 minutes behind the 10k) to head off in a different direction. At this point I was glad I had opted for the 10k, as I was struggling with the hills! Not many spectators were present at this race, but there were several families walking in the forest who cheered us on.
The final section of the race was the steepest hill yet, most of the runners around me slowed to a walk. I didn’t expect a PB, so took my time walking up this hill, before a lovely downhill section back to the finish line where I picked up the pace again. The final straight took us past a field with a strong smell of horse manure- not what you want to smell as you come in for a sprint finish!
My official time was 58:13 which is only 48 seconds off my 10k PB. I came 69th out of 105 runners. I was pretty chuffed with that considering I had walked most of the hills! I had anticipated a much slower time.
The system for receiving your race result was pretty good- you typed your bib number into a computer and it printed off a receipt with your time and position. It was very efficient and made a smooth transition after crossing the finish line. We received a medal, banana, T-shirt and Sweatshop voucher in our goody bags.
I met up with Glen, Felicity and Tim, and we went for something to eat in the on-site pub (which was packed with runners). Glen had gone ahead with the race, despite still feeling rough. He too had struggled with the hills, especially with an upset stomach but got a great time of 45.29, coming 11th in the race.
Overall, a well-organised race, lovely route, great facilities and good to have a selection of race distances to choose from. I need to work on my hill running if this race is anything to go by- hills are not my strong point!