Offa’s Dyke 15 – Sunday 30 August 2015

Lelsey Pymm reports:  This event was a well known multi-terrain event, but it stopped in 2002.  I had completed it once in, I think, 1998 (I can’t find my log for that year) and I was defeated by the heat in 1999 and only got to the second cut-off point.  I was really pleased to see that it was back and was taking place a bit later in the year so it may be a bit cooler.  It starts at Hay-on-Wye and goes to Kington.  Now that there are garmin type gadgets, it can be revealed that the event is actually 14.5 miles!  I read the pre-race info and saw that there was a cut off at approx 7 miles of 90 minutes (sounds easy!) and that was it.

At the race HQ I saw the only other BvH entrant, Anthony Stewart and had a chat.  Then we all went down to the start.  It was only during the race briefing that we were told of the second cut-off point.  10 miles in 2 hours.  I was not sure that I would finish, but I’d give it a good try.  I was not going to fail because it was too warm anyway – the day was cool and wet.

We started running through Hay and then off-road heading towards Boadside Farm.  I overtook a couple of runners on the road and knew there were another one or two behind – the rest of the field was well ahead.  We ran through the farm and along a track, turning off to run close to our campsite before eventually getting onto the A438. This bit seemed never ending.  At long last I turned off and uphill on a road before going off road.  This was through Betwys Dingle, which was lovely.  It was then back onto roads again – I didn’t remember so much road from the 1990s, but I suppose it was the same, I was just not so aware of it.  There was eventually a slog up Little Mountain, it says it all, and then off downhill towards the first cut-off at Newchurch.

The marshall said ‘Just up here and then you’ll see Newchurch’.  Well I did, and it was miles away!  I looked at my watch and I had 10 minutes to get there.  I was running totally on my own, I could not see anyone ahead and I could not hear anyone behind.  Well, I just had to get a move on to get through the 90 minutes cut-off.  There just seemed to be more and more  turns and I didn’t seem to get any closer.  Then, I came to the village and got through and glanced at my watch – 1hour 29 minutes.  I assumed that I was the last one to get through that cut-off, but the next one was going to be a real  challenge.

There was a long climb from Newchurch to the top of Dysgwilfa Hill.  It was lovely grassland and the views were great.  It was quite steep and I knew that I was in trouble with the timing.  I glanced back and there was one person running behind, who I realised was the back marker who had now lost the (even) slower runners and was jogging along to catch up with me.  I carried on running and, approaching Grove Farm, there was an arrow pointing to the right.  I went off the path and moved over that way, but could not see where I was supposed to go, so carried on straight, but looking to the right.  I then got to a cross roads of paths, and didn’t have a clue!  I stopped and tried to work it out, and let the back marker catch me up.  She wasn’t sure either, but we kept on going forward.  Then I heard a shout from our left and we saw a marshal over there.  We jogged over to him and I was set on my way again.

Down the drive of the farm and onto a road.  The marshal who had been here had now left and I did not know which way to go, but assumed it was left as that was the direction for the ridge that I could see!  I dropped down into Gladestry and ran past one marshal, through the village and I got to the drink station and an official who was telling me I was not able to go any further, but there was space for me in the car that was parked there and contained a couple of runners who had been stopped at 7 miles.

To be absolutely honest, I was not sorry.  I had got very cold by then and knew that I would take a long time to get the remaining few miles.  Anthony will have run up and over  Hergest Ridge and I was sorry to miss this as I think it is the best part of the run.  I was pleased to sit in the car and rummage in my bumbag for something to eat!  We were driven the few miles to the finish and one of the first people I saw was Anthony – who told me to go and get a T Shirt.  I said that I would never wear it, so wouldn’t bother.  After I had collected my bag and got some warm clothes on, I thought better of it and did go and get a T shirt.  They were good ones and I had actually run 10.83 miles and been out for 2.24.25, so thought I did deserve it.    I have worn it!

I have not seen the results yet, so don’t know how Anthony did, but I am sure he did well.  He looked relaxed at the end.  It is a good event, I won’t be doing it again as I am too slow now and have to accept my limitations, but the rest of you – get out there!

Offa’s Dyke 15

2 Replies to “Offa’s Dyke 15 – Sunday 30 August 2015”

  1. Well done Lesley, you earned that t-shirt.

    As you say, Hergest Ridge was great; magnificent views and bit of a Roller Coaster ride with an incredible couple of miles of downhill running at the end.

    It was nice to take part in the first of this event since 2002 and going by the welcome given by the Mayor (assumption on my part as he had a gold chain on) it was clear the locals of Hay were pleased it was back.

    The race offered everything, from mud to tricky single track, open fields to open trails, a main road to secluded country lanes, tortuous uphills to demon descents.

    I opted for trail shoes with only 4mm of grip as opposed to more aggressive off road stud like shoes; a bit of a compromise at times but on balance the right choice.

    I would recommend the event to anyone who enjoys running off road.