Sandwell 6 Towns 14 Miles – 26 August 2012

Lesley Pymm reports: This was the second time I have done this event – only last year they did a choice of 16 or 26 miles, this year the choice was 14, 18 or 26 miles.

So I debated for a while over which one to run and eventually decided on the shorter one as I have no long distance events coming up in the near future. There were more runners than previous years, with the majority still being walkers. The longer distances started off earlier so at 9.30 there was just the 14 milers to go.

I had seen a group of young men who I assumed would be faster than me and was surprised when I found that I was leading. Listening to the conversation behind me, it was clear that they expected me to lead them round (it was self navigate and we had all been given the route). At the first turn off the main path, they asked me if that was right.

They then ran ahead of me until they got to a cricket club and then the route was not clear so they waited for me. I asked them why they were not using their route description and I was told ‘because we’re men’. At this point I told them that I wasn’t going any further and they would have to work things out for themselves.

I stopped and waited behind a hedge for a few minutes until they had gone from sight and then I carried on. I decided that I would rather take a bit longer than be taken advantage of. I ran with another woman who I vaguely knew for a while, but as she was coming back to running after a bit of a break she needed to have walking breaks, so I carried on alone for the rest of the event.

I enjoyed it once I had got over the bad start, the route was well described and I had very little trouble finding my way, although I dod have to concentrate. The route was mainly on canal towpaths, but there was enough off the cut to be interesting and having to follow the route kept the mind occupied. It was very muddy in places.

I was told at the two checkpoints that I was the first on my route to go through, so I knew that the men had got lost! I was within about 2 miles of the finish when I was overtaken by one of them. He was a fast runner and it seemed that he had programmed last years route into his Garmin so had done more than was necessary!

I was second back, first woman. It wasn’t long before the woman I had talked to earlier came in. She said that the group of men had caught her up and wanted her to bring them in. She explained that she needed walking breaks and was not prepared to do it anyway. She asked where their routes were and was told that they had left them in the car expecting the route to be waymarked. Why would anyone give out such detailed directions if they were going to waymark the course? Anyway, she read the next bit out to them and off they went. She beat them back, so they had obviously gone wrong somewhere.

It is a good event. Low key and with a variety of distances. I was told that they intend to do a 7 mile one next year as well.