Here are some recent race reports from Mark Cooper who seems to have been pretty busy…
Sunday 15 April – The Magnificent Eastnor Castle Seven
This was the first time I had entered this event, so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The distance is slightly unusual – 7 miles, but the venue was superb – the grounds of Eastnor Castle and Deer Park just outside Ledbury. It was a lovely sunny morning, but a little fresh in the breeze, particularly in the open ground around the start – once underway a lot of the race was in woodlands so offering some protection from the wind. There were just over 100 runners at the start – slightly down on previous years. I really enjoyed the race, well it wasn’t really a race – the views and scenery were magnificent and if you just want the feeling of going out for a run for the enjoyment and taking in the views of the grounds and local countryside, then this would be a good race to choose.
I wasn’t worried about time, in fact I was actually a bit sorry to get to the end, the course was so nice. This was an undulating course, with a nice climb to an obelisk at the crown of a hill at about 5 and a half miles being literally the highpoint – I think I had actually reached the highest point in the chain of hills that makes up the Malverns, but wasn’t quite sure! There is a steep downhill stretch to the finish, and quite a nice momento at the end – an engraved half pint glass commemorating this year’s race provided by Ledbury Harriers. PB potential? No way – would I do it again? Absolutely!
Wednesday 18 April – Lilleshall 5 miles – first race in the Telford Sexarathon Series
This was my first midweek race of the year – a nice straightforward 5 mile course based around the Lilleshall Sports and Conferencing venue and the first race in the annual series of 6 races organised by Telford AC. Considering the weather (and it literally poured down for the whole 5 miles without a break at all!) the field of 258 was quite a good turnout. From the start the course follows what is about a mile and a half driveway (some driveway!) out of the Centre with a small loop on roads before heading back up the same driveway.
As this is slightly downhill on the way out, you already know what’s waiting for you on the return! After a bit of a slow start I seemed to find some additional energy from about 3 miles onwards and for the last two miles couldn’t believe the number of runners I kept overtaking – must be those hill sessions with Mick on a Thursday night paying off! I eventually finished in a time of 42 minutes, 02 seconds, probably not too bad for the conditions, and 173rd out of the 258 who braved the conditions. It’s a reasonable workout if you can get to Lilleshall for the 7pm start and it is a race dominated by club runners.
Not quite a PB course, but it does offer the chance of a good time (assuming its not raining!). Unfortunately the organisation isn’t quite as good as it could be (the registration and start had moved again and the directions are not that good) so you need to allow plenty of time to get your bearings once you’ve got to the venue. But I like this race and it signals the start of the midweek racing season for me, so will probably be back again next year…let’s hope the sun shines!
Saturday 21 April – Moreton Morrell Mad Dash 10k
Organised by Raceways.eu, who’s events are probably most easily recognised by the fact that they are always on a Saturday and held at one of two venues. The other feature of their races is that they usually hold 2-3 races of difference distances all starting at the same time and featuring one or more laps of a measured course. This time round I chose to run the 10k, but could have opted for the 2-lap 20k race had I wanted to do so.
The race (or races to be accurate!) start and end in the grounds of Moreton Morrell Agricultural Centre in Warwickshire, my geography’s not that brilliant but it’s out Stratford / Wellesbourne way I think – and after Wednesday night’s soaking at Lilleshall I as pleased to see the sun shining and clear skies for this race! There is plenty of information about the venue, the course, etc on the race website which is really helpful, and that is a feature of the organisers of this event and the others in their calendar – I have always found nothing is too much trouble for them and they go out of their way to help if you have a query.
The route had changed slightly from the last time I did a 10k here and I found it to be a much improved course. It’s quite a fast course and would have PB potential were it not for the quite steep climb for about 500m or so of the last km – but i really enjoyed the race and my unofficial time from my Garmin was 46′ 57″, which is a season’s best for 10k and my fastest 10k since March 2011. I had reached halfway in 22′ 57″ and was hoping to be closer to 46 minutes at the end, but I lost about 20-25 seconds on the last km with the hill and I think the 2 races and 2 training sessions in the previous week had also caught up with me a bit.
They (Raceways) are repeating the event again on Saturday (when else!) 11 August, both 10k and 20k races starting at 11am. I might go for the 2 laps next time – having not done the distance before I’m guaranteeed a 20k PB! The start itself is well worth the entry – because of the course measurement the 10k runners start approx 150m in front of the 20k runners, but out of sight of each other around a 90 degree turn in the road – the starter stands halfway between the two groups and gives a long blast on the klaxon and hopes everyone can hear!