Wimborne Athletic Club

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Ridgeway 2009 – It’s the taking part!

Report form WAC’s AC/DC team

Team members, from left to right, Andy Horsley, Tim Box,
Denise Craddock, James Burgess, Julie Mead and
Richard Davies at Tollard Royal.

Leg 1 – Tollard Royal to Shroton – Andy

Just as the race started, as predicted, the heavens opened and the wind started to blow. Thankfully there had not been much rain leading up to today so most of the going was solid. I kept a steady pace up the first long hill then watched as the fast boys strolled off into the distance. Rain and wind made it hard going on the exposed parts but I managed to get to the final fields at a reasonable speed. I minced down the last few hundred metres as it was slippery and was overtaken by a couple of people but was glad to see Denise at the gate.

Leg 2 – Shroton to Okeford Beacon – Denise

Very hilly but thankfully short. Only one field with cows in! One field had two horses intent on escape which was a bit daunting when trying to get in the gate.

Leg 3 – Okeford Beacon to Breach Wood Barn - James

Rain had stopped, sun was out, and the first part of the leg was along the undulating top of the ridge.  It didn’t take me long to realise that ‘undulating’ meant hilly. Craig started at the same time as me, and his pace pushed me for the first half before he pulled away. The road section made my leg tighten up, but a quick stretch sorted it out, and worried the support car as it drove past.  Off the road, skirting the edge of Rawlesbury Camp hill fort, and steeply down, a Gillingham runner in front spurring me on to overtake them half way down. The bottom wasn’t as muddy as feared, and the river crossing was wet but enjoyable. Made up some time over the final fields, and was chasing Craig through the woods onto the finish line again.

Leg 4 – Breach Wood Barn to Alton Pancras - Tim

No time to warm up because James had ran a quick leg 3 as he appeared through the trees I still had my bottoms on. The start is a steady climb up to the farm, through the farmyard and up to the top of the hill, Maddy and Craig were just in front at change over, no way was I going to catch them. We dropped into the Dorset Gap, that was the last I saw of them, up through the Gap slipping on the mud climbing steadily to the water tower and down to Folly to cross the road, to find someone had strung a piece of string across the track without tying and bag to it. Up to Church Hill, that's the hard bit over. Running along the ridge down to the change over is the best part of this leg.

 Leg 5 – Alton Pancras to Batcombe – Julie


COMPLETE DISASTER - First 100 yards Ok, then repeated all the mistakes I made on the recce! Running aimlessly through field I spotted a red vest (Paul) and realised the direction I should be taking. Continued through thigh-length grass to finally enter the campsite from a different route but relieved to be back on track. The rest was a total blur due to nerves, but really pleased to see Andy on the track before the changeover and then Denise cheering me in - was I glad that was over!


Julie emerges (eventually)  from the woods at Batcombe,
doing her best ‘Rambo’ impersonation!

Leg 6 – Batcombe to Breakheart Hill – Richard

Worried about Julie, phew found safe and well. Started off sheltered from the wind and rain. Turned onto the Ridgeway, nice and flat run down to Sydling St Nicolas. Very exposed and the right side of my face, right arm and right leg exfoliated by the driving rain oh what fun! After about 100 yards had to take off my glasses and happily stumbled my way along the track, saw no other runners in fact couldn't see a lot! Lots of mud and puddles a bit of respite in the village before starting the long climb from the church up Breakheart Hill named for a reason. Very happy to see Andy bounding of the other side of the A37. Half way!

Leg 7 – Breakheart Hill to Rampisham – Andy

It was very cold and windy waiting at the changeover but soon enough Richard appeared on the other side of the road and I was off down the hill into Maiden Newton. My legs could feel Leg 1 in them but the downhill got them going. Along the river, very muddy and then out and up the long road. I saw a couple of Maiden Newton runners some way ahead and concentrated on catching them, which I did eventually. Then off the road across the fields where I managed to not get lost this time! Through the track and up across the fields I was trying to keep a steady pace but was glad to see the changeover.

Leg 8 – Rampisham to Minterns Hill - Denise

This leg is great with great views but my legs were stiff from Leg 2. Completing both legs was not as bad as losing my car keys! One way to let the team down in no time! Thank goodness Tim found them. He let me down with my phone though! I lost that!! The running was a sideline to a great day out with lots of food and laughs along the way.

Leg 9 – Mintern’s Hill to Sheepwash Lane - James

This leg was a steep start – gravel and mud down Mintern’s Hill until you reach the road going into Beaminster.  Managed to get down on my feet and in one piece.  I had Jeff from Wimborne to chase, and two Maiden Newton runners to hold off.  Through the town, past the church and along a stream to get out into countryside again before the ridiculously steep Gerrard’s Hill. Passed Jeff in a walking race nearing the top of the hill, levelling off briefly before the final climb to Lewesdon Hill. The best part of this leg was here, with a comedy solo clown run along the very slippery, muddy track at the top, buffered by the gale force cross wind. A gentle downhill along the road to the finish meant I could pretend to look relaxed at the handover to Tim.

Leg 10 – Sheepwash Lane to Venn Chapel – Tim

James again ran another quick leg, but I was ready for him this time. From the change over you can see runners coming up the farm track, crossing the road and climbing up to Pilsdon Pen that's a climb of over 400ft in less than a mile. We could pick out Maddy and Ian making their way up to the earthworks. It's a long climb from the farm up to Pilsdon Pen I was glad it was at the start, a nice easy run along the ridge and drop into Cole's Cross, up the road and a short climb up Blackdown Hill, a piece of cake compared with Pilsdon Pen. Two runners overtook me here but a last minute mistake on their part, put me back in front at the change over, I enjoyed that one more than I thought I was going to. 

Tim is pursued into Venn Chapel


Leg 11 – Venn Chapel to Coney’s Castle – Julie

The one I was really worried about - but Andy to the rescue he agreed to run with me - (probably due to earlier mishap!!). Was able to really enjoy this one especially when Andy electrocuted his bum!!  Lovely scenery but the sting in the tail is definitely that - hard going up to Lambert’s Castle then lovely and flat, then the final leg up to Coney’s Castle was tough but very pleased to see Richard ready and waiting then a well deserved glass of wine or two!!


Leg 12 – Coney’s Castle to Uplyme – Richard

Coney’s Castle, no rain and a nice one mile run downhill to start into Wootton Fitzpaine fantastic. A little concerned with this leg as the recce had taken 1hr 50mins and involved running around in circles looking for derelict house (which have been converted to swanky holiday lets pure Ridgeway). A big advantage and part of our team strategy in being the 17th team down the hill is you have a trail to follow! A long haul up the fields to Penn Farm and then its downhill all the way to the finish slipping and sliding all the way. The sun came out over the final mile into Uplyme, great to see a lot of cheering smiling faces from the whole WAC teams as we crossed the line /team photo/beer/mug/sausage & mash.  



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