Ridgeway 2009 – It’s the taking part!
Report form WAC’s AC/DC team
from left to right, Andy Horsley, Tim Box,
Denise Craddock, James Burgess, Julie Mead and
Richard Davies at Tollard Royal.
– Tollard Royal to Shroton –
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.
– Shroton to Okeford Beacon –
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.
– Okeford Beacon to Breach Wood Barn -
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
– Breach Wood Barn to Alton Pancras -
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.
Alton Pancras to Batcombe –
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!
(eventually) from the woods at Batcombe,
doing her best ‘Rambo’ impersonation!
– Batcombe to Breakheart Hill –
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!
– Breakheart Hill to Rampisham –
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
– Rampisham to Minterns Hill -
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.
– Mintern’s Hill to Sheepwash Lane -
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.
– Sheepwash Lane to Venn Chapel –
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
– Venn Chapel to Coney’s Castle –
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!!
– Coney’s Castle to Uplyme –
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.