Lesley Pymm reports: I have done a few races in the Forest of Dean and really enjoyed the challenge of them. A friend did this one last year and I said I would go along with her this year. Unfortunately, after I had entered, I discovered that she was not well and is unable to run at all – never mind 13 miles. This had been (for me) an expensive race at £20, so I was not going to miss it. I turned up and drove over the muddy field at Speech House and hoped that I was going to be able to get the car out again afterwards.
I went off to get my number and chip, putting on loads of clothes as it was so cold and windy. I met a few people I know – and they generally wondered what on earth they were doing there. Some regulars that I talked to in the number and the loo queue all spoke highly of the event, so I began to look forward to it. I had previously done a half that went up over Symonds Yat and another event that I used to do every year called the Blaisdon Jelly Leg – I had loved these events and hoped that this would be similar.
I started near to the back as there were sections for anticipated finish times. It took me over two minutes to walk to the start, but I seemed to be running straight away after that. The start was downhill on road for about a mile, and then we turned off into the forest. I enjoyed the first half more that the later part of the run, I think. There was more climbing. I thought it would be quite hilly all the way round, but found that the second half was mainly flattish.
There were bits when I was fairly high up and the wind was blasting, but most of the time the trees provided sufficient shealter. To be honest, when it was windy, I appreciated it as I cooled down a bit. There was one section at about 8 miles that had obviously been a railway track for the mines. I started to lose the will to live and hoped that it was not going to be flat for the rest of the run. I was pleased to see that we turned off after about a mile.
Towards the end of the run the path started to climb again. I was overtaking a lot of other runners in the last mile.
Did I enjoy it? I’m not sure. It was OK but not my favourite race. I was not expecting to be running on wide forestry tracks for the entire run (except when it was tarmac) and was a bit disappointed at that. The mile markers seemed to come round quickly, so I was obviously not too bored. I thought it was very expensive for what you got! Everyone knows that I am not a great goody bag person, and this was run by Rotary – so money was going to charity. However, I thought £20 for a run where all you got at the end was a medal and a bottle of sports drink was a bit much. I would have appreciated something to eat! Mike had said that he got himself a coffee and a bacon butty whilst I was away – neither was hot – but significantly even the first aiders had to pay. I really do think they should get free drinks/snacks. Oh, and I got the car off the field OK and went to farm shop that I use regularly when I’m over that way to stock up and to get something to eat.
Anyway – it was well organised and very well marshalled. So if this is your type of event – go for it! They also do an Autumn one and entries are open now.