Winter Tanners 30 - 9th Jan 2011
Peter Lemon and I set off just after 6am on another
frosty, cold morning to tackle this LDWA event which starts and finishes
in Leatherhead in Surrey. Entry price was £2.50 so our expectations were
not high but we did expect a lot of difficulty as there had been a lot
of rain during the week before.
Race HQ was the back of the organiserís car and we were
given a running number and 4 pages of directions of the route. There
were quite a few runners around and quite a few familiar faces from long
running events, most were dressed with packs and warm clothes as it was
below freezing and everyone was expecting a long day out.
We set off at about 8.30 with instructions to follow a
diversion due to flooding in the valley ahead. After a mile or so
through the roads of Leatherhead after a few moments of confusion we
found the diversion and set off down the Mole Valley. Unfortunately not
everyone was so alert and several runners ended up a mile or so further
on waist deep in water.
Our route looped round and up the valley and was flat
for the first three miles or so. Then after some more hesitant
navigation we encountered the first hill which started off quite shallow
but soon steepened up until we were striding up the slope and onto a
large open hill which we found out was Box Hill. (I wasnít aware that
Timís empire stretched so far!).
Box Hill Ė going up
Box Hill Ė looking back down
Pete and I had agreed beforehand to walk the steep hills
and keep the running to a slow steady pace, preferring to treat the
event as a training run rather than a race. This we managed to do for
most of the route. The pattern consisted of several large hills which
required walking up, in some cases with hands on knees, interspersed
with steep descents into valleys which whilst not flooded were deep in
mud in places. The going was tough throughout and I felt for the walkers
who would be out there a long time in those conditions.
Pete starting his New Year diet
Pete had been complaining verbally that he was
struggling from about 10 miles but it didnít show physically or in his
effort, he carried on at the same pace continuously.
We kept going like this to Leith Hill which was about
the halfway point. Most runners stopped here for some photos and to
admire the views across the southern counties. After leaving the halfway
checkpoint and another handful of biscuits we met quite a few runners
coming the other way who had got lost and by my estimation had added
another mile or two to their run and were trying to get back to the
After halfway there was a succession of large steep
hills with spectacular views followed by downhills into muddy fields.
Eventually we had to climb back over the North Downs and climbed the
largest hill so far (so it felt). This took us through an area called
Steers Field which was the steepest part of all. After 24 miles or so
the hill was sapping at my sense of humour and I was muttering what Mr
Steer could do with his field until I was reminded by another runner
that the late Mr Steer was one of the founder members of the LDWA and it
was named in his honour.
Steers Field, Looking back down
Eventually we hit the top and the last checkpoint,
equipped with hot drinks and usual selection of foodstuffs. We both
agreed to sample the tea and cakes and ended up spending 10-15 minutes
here steeling ourselves for the last 5 miles.
The last 5 miles were a pleasant surprise as they were
nearly all on a gently downhill slope or flat apart from one short hill.
The going was good and Pete got his motivation back and we actually sped
up for this last section. The finish was back in the same car park and
we reported to the lady in the car who recorded our times. A cracking
run in good company.
Overall, another winner for the LDWA, cheap price,
brilliant organisation, stunning course and a tough challenge in one. We
have already pencilled it in for next year.
Results were 34th and 35th place in 6 hours and 3
minutes from 231 entrants.