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Gold Hill - 14th October 2007

Into the Valley of Death ran the five WACers

It was a lovely autumn day as Claire, Bob, Graham, Stewart and myself assembled at Shaftesbury Youth Club for the start of the Gold Hill 9.5K. The sun broke through the forecast cloud, there was a light breeze and a temperature of 60 degrees F.

Bob, having run the route before and Stewart, who measured the course, warned us of the final hill in the race. Little did we know!

The start was in Coppice Street. We set off running up hill turning left towards Salisbury Street. Another left down Great Lane gives you a glimpse of the last hill as we turn off down a footpath to Hawkesdean Lane.

Within 3/4 of mile we turned right and there is Gold Hill. I didn't expect it so early. You climb almost 100 feet within 246 yards and in my case, it makes you puff. My family were at the top with an encouraging cheer.

Stewart powers up
Gold Hill

Claire digging deep on
Gold Hill

Ian attacking the climb
on Gold Hill

Bob approaches the
finish line

Stewart was well ahead by now, after telling us he was going to take it easy down the hills. I would hate to see him trying hard!  There is a wonderful view down the valley to our left as we begin the decent down St John’s Hill. I pass Graham at this point (this was a mistake!). After over 1 mile of steep downhill, dropping from 706 feet to  350 feet, we turn left. The last hill could lull you into thinking the race was easier than you thought but as we're now in a valley – marked as the ‘Valley of Death’ on the race’s  gradient profile - and the finish was on the top of a hill...........

At 3.25 miles, after tackling a couple of short hills, we climbed 175 ft turning left into French Mill Lane. It felt as steep as Gold Hill (I'm still puffing). Another decent into the Valley of Death, 4.25 miles at the bottom and we then start the long climb turning left into Gascoigne Lane. It was now I felt the need to walk a few paces to get my breath back, Graham caught me up and did the same, but then overtook and pulled away. For me walking in a race is a big disappointment but it happens. We returned to French Mill Lane at the 5.3 mile point and, encouraged by the marshals, pushed on. I reach 5.5 miles and cross to Great Lane, the summit is in sight but Graham is not! He must have reserves that I don't. It was such a relief to turn into Salisbury Street at the top and head for home. At the finish I heard Stewart shout words of encouragement and I managed a sprint for the line but alas the other competitor pipped me by one second.

Stewart ran a fantastic 40.56 to come 8th with Graham running well to 28th with 45.28. Myself 35th 46.56. Bob Caines another great effort 58.00 and 83rd inspiring stuff, along with Claire's (1:03.10, 102nd), a huge effort. We managed to get our faces in the Western Gazette wearing WAC colours and all felt it was a well organized friendly race.

Ian Buckingham



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