Lesley Pymm reports: Although I knew of this event, I had never run it before as it always clashed with Wyre Forest. Wyre Forest was not being run this year and, as the final XC race for the women was in Cheltenham, I decided to stay down there and have a go at Dursley.
I had booked accommodation about 6 miles from the start – it was a shame that the Highways Agency had closed the road to do some work and I had to do a 25 mile diversion to get there. Anyway, as usual I had allowed plenty of time, so I got there with 45 minutes to spare. Apparently there were a lot of late starters, so others may not have been so lucky! As I was driving around the area I was ‘impressed’ at how many hills there were!!
The start was uphill out of the town. Although we started on road this changed very quickly and we were soon on a muddy path and had come to a halt as people in front were falling over. We also had to step over a chain over the path. The race instructions had said that if people were not at 7.5 miles in 2 hours then there would be a ‘cut off’; I laughed….
At 2 miles there was a queue to get around a fallen treee, and we were still going predominantly uphill. I glanced at my watch at 3 miles and saw that I had taken 45 minutes to get that far. I started to worry about the cut off! Anyway, after that the going got slightly easier. There were some downhills as well as uphills. On the top of the hills the wind was blowing a gale and there were times when I was having trouble staying upright and going in a straight line.
There was a section at about 6 miles when it was a downhill in a deep path which was soooo muddy. I really had problems with this section and was glad to get out of it and start climbing again. There was a section called Breakheart Quarry which looked as if it may have been interesting if there was time to stop and read the information boards, but I had to keep going as the cut off was just after this quarry. I got through and kept going.
At 9 miles the cheery marshal told me it was all downhill from now on – ‘You’ll enjoy this section’, he said. I was just pondering how it could possibly be 3 miles downhill – we were high but not that high – when I rounded a bend and saw the climb!! It may have been OK for the faster runners at the front, but was now very muddy. This climb of about 1/4 mile was completed with the aid of ropes which had been tied to trees. I was very pleased that I had gloves on as I can imagine that it would have been a bit unpleasant holding these ropes without.
Eventually I got to the top (the precipice) and then it really was mainly downhill to the finish. It had been a hard run. I imagine it is always fairly tough, but with the amount of water around at the moment and the wind it was possibly worse than usual. For what it’s worth – my time for 12 miles was 02.48.41.