Wimborne Athletic Club

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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.


 Mole Valley

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 checkpoint.

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.

Andy Horsley

 

 
 
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