Lesley Pymm reports: What a lovely day for the Mortimer Forest Hill Race. This 10 mile jaunt over the hills near Ludlow was running for the 20th year, and there were 227 who completed. I understand that a few did not finish. It is not a run for the faint hearted! The race HQ is at Moor Park School where there is parking and limited facilities (I have stopped taking shower kit as the showers are always cold by the time I get back). There is a mobile cafe selling coffee and snacks.
The race starts on the school playing field and we ran out over the rugby pitch, onto a bit of tarmac and then up the first slope towards the road. It was around here that I found that the rest of the field got away! Over a small ditch and across the road, we passed the finish and were away. Gently climbing, we then dropped down into the Mary Knoll Valley for the first time.
Turning up the valley, I crossed the stream for the first time. Other runners ahead were faffing about leaping onto a tree stump that had been placed there. I was feeling a bit insecure in the shoes I was wearing (they turned out to be a great mistake!) so I just went through the water, I wasn’t taking any chances at this early stage. Through the woods, we then had a steep drop down and this was fairly dry which was unusual. Then it was the really big climb where most people have to walk as they can’t get past the people ahead. There was such a big gap between me and those in front that I did manage to keep the momentum going – I hesitate to call it ‘running’.
At the top, after passing Mary Knoll, it was a descent to cross the Ludlow-Wigmore Road. Then a steep drop and a left turn to easy running leading to the ‘Pipe Track’. Eventually I could see the first of the pump buildings – enough to put fear into the heart of the strongest runner! Passing the building and the grinning marshal, it was onto the infamous ‘ups and downs’. This is exactly what it says on the tin and is something to do with the water authority. It starts with a steep downhill, then a steep uphill, then this is all repeated again. I started off thinking that it did not seem as slippery as it had on previous years. That was before I got tangled up with a bramble; pulling away, I lost my balcance and went down heavily on my backside. I now understand what ‘winded’ means as I felt the air push through my body as I gasped.
I carried on and at the bottom of the last ‘down’, a marshal and child moved towards me. The marshal was actually where I intended to run and the child on the other side of me, so I had to go through the middle of them. This was straight over a large concrete manhole cover. Well, it would have been if I hadn’t tripped and gone flying, grazing my knee and knuckles. Not a great start – I was less than half way through.
Passing the second pump building at the end of the last ‘up’, I continued on a track to climb up and over Bringewood Rise. Then it was downhill again over a field and then on a farm track leading to cross the road again.
Going through High Vinnals car park, I knew the drink station was not far away, and it was very welcome. This is partly for the refreshment provided, but mainly as I knew that I was well over half-way!! The last really big climb was ahead – High Vinnals and Climbing Jack Common. It was on the descents from here that I really had problems with my shoes. I felt so unstable and it was really steep and muddy, so dainty steps were absolutely necessary. Eventually got back down to the Mary Knoll Valley again. Through the valley again on a decent track, then a little downhill through woods before climbing back out the way I came out – knowing that the final section was all downhill.
I was pleased to finish – it was a good day for a lovely run but I was let down by my shoes and don’t really understand why as I had worn them lots of times before – maybe they had stretched!!!? Anyway, they had loads of prizes at the end. Hilary O’Shea was there and is in my category, so I had no expectations and was surprised to find that there was a second prize and it was mine. My time was only seconds slower than last year, so I suppose it can’t have been that bad a run.