Four miles isn’t that far, right? It isn’t that far when your ambling along a road or trail on a Sunday morning. They’re easy miles. They’re easy miles that you bag whilst chatting about future races. Yet four miles in a race is a long way. It is a long way when you are trying to run a fast 5K pace up hill and down dale and through mud. But, in retrospect, I guess it’s not that far, although you do feel every mile!
This is the third year that the race has been organised by Rogue Runs and takes place close to or at the end of the year. The race starts at The Old Oaks Touring Caravan Park & Campsite which offers excellent pre and post race facilities in the form of plenty of parking and ultra-clean toilets and showers.
Why Not Start With A Hill?
The route starts just outside the caravan park and heads along Wick Lane before bearing right up Stone Down Lane. A marshal had already pre-warned me that the slog up Stone Down Lane was long and very ‘sloggy’! Perhaps even harder than the ascent up to the Tor.
It sure was a slog but it was one of those hills that wasn’t too steep and you could maintain a respectable pace. At the top of the lane and 1 mile into the race you spurred off down Basket Field Lane which was a very fast descent on a tarmac road. Lean slightly forward, let yourself go and hope you don’t fall!
The path lead to a short, steep ascent into land surrounding the Tor and you headed down to the south west edge where the stone steps ascended to the top. I ran at first but quickly learnt that I would walk just as fast as those running in front (and use less energy) and not knowing what else lies ahead of me in the second half of the race I wasn’t concerned about walking this section.
Watch Your Step
The descent was down similar stone steps and we were pre-warned that the wooden edges can get very slippery, particularly after a period of rain. I applied extra caution so descended without any difficulty but the section that traced the northern edge of the Tor was a bit more technical (e.g. lumpy, winding, muddy) with just a small little descent that was destined to cause a slippage or two.
Exiting the land around the Tor it’s a short, sharp descent and then back onto tarmac for another climb back up to meet Stone Down Lane from earlier in the race. Instead of heading back along Stone Down Lane you head north west towards Paradise Lane which turns into a muddy track. By this point first lady had been running behind me since descending the Tor and whilst I didn’t mind whether she passed me or not, and would have gladly encouraged her if she had, she was keeping me on my toes so I couldn’t help pushing on to finish in front of her.
The muddy track leads back towards the caravan site and there are a couple of stiles and gates to contend with before you have to descend an extremely fast well-worn grass path. This is where you can really let yourself go. It’s then just a short dash back through the caravan site to the finish line and cake!
Race Route and Profile
[Main photograph courtesy of Rogue Runs]