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Thread: Run Rabbit Trail Festival

  1. #1
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    Run Rabbit Trail Festival

    Three events over the two days of the weekend: do any or all of them. I chose the 10km race on Saturday evening, but all three would be a total of 56km. They are all on the Marston Lodge estate, in a part of Northamptonshire with a decent number of squiggly brown lines on the OS map.

    The event had been on my radar for several weeks, but I didn't make a decision until last Wednesday, when I was sure that my gastric problems of the previous week had completely gone. The website said "Entries closed", but after a quick email, the organiser replied to say that EoD would be available. Unfortunately, EoD meant that I didn't get the final details email, with the information that the start would be 30 minutes earlier than on the website. I was wondering why the RO was doing the race briefing at 6:20 for a 7:00 start; at the end of the briefing, he said that the start would be in 5 minutes. After a quick change of shoes, I was off.

    The course was on farm and forest tracks and field edges. The latter all had the tyre imprints of heavy agricultural machinery, baked hard in the recent dry weather. A generally unpleasant surface to run on, and Walshes were definitely the wrong choice of shoes. There were a few flat stretches, but most of the route was undulating, with a few quite steep hills.

    In my previous two races I have suppressed my tendency to go off too fast at the start, but it came back with a vengeance this time. 500m out, and there was a leading group of about ten, and then me about 20m behind. From that start, there was only one way through the field for me: backwards! I finished 25th out of 89, but that includes a fair number who had already run 25km earlier in the day. I was first M60, but there was a F65 two places behind me, and second place overall was taken by a M55. Winning time was 44:00; the RO had said that it was "10k-ish", so I think we know what "ish" means. I did 58:11.

    The £20 entry fee included chickpea curry and samosa afterwards, so I'm not complaining.
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  2. #2
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    Having decided to abandon my planned trip to the Lake District on Wednesday morning, I went to the website of the Run Rabbit Trail Festival, and found that entries were still open. So I signed for the 10km race on Saturday evening.

    On Friday, the organisers decided to go ahead despite the yellow warning of high winds on Saturday (there is quite a lot of running through woodland, with potential danger from falling branches). I took a fairly early train to Market Harborough, which gave me time to extend the cycle ride to the race venue at Marston Lodge, adding about 3 miles and some extra hills. I stopped off at Rupert's Viewpoint, where Prince Rupert had assembled his troops before the battle of Naseby. But was I heading for a right royal defeat, like he was?

    At the race, I avoided going off ridiculously fast as I had done last year, but I still felt very heavy in the first few km, and found myself walking up a few hills that I had run up last year. [Yes, Northamptonshire does have some hills!] The first 2km are flattish, but the rest of the course is unrelenting undulations, and it actually seems surprising that there is only about 160m of climbing and descent. Anyway, it came as quite a shock when I arrived at the finish and the results display showed that I was a minute faster than last year. The wind would certainly have slowed us down on some stretches, although arguably the ground conditions were better; there was some softness, but no mud, underfoot, in contrast to the rock-hard ground last year.

    I was 31st out of about 130, and took only 31% longer than the winner, but these are meaningless statistics, given that probably more than half the field were doing this as the second event of three in the weekend of trail races. I was first M65, and ahead of the first M60; but the participation in these trail races is very different from fell races: far fewer oldies (there were only 6 M/F60's and older that I could see on the results display), and a much higher proportion of women (about 40% in this race). But maybe the biggest contrast between trail and fell running is revealed by a comment made by a woman who had been running near me for part of the race: she remarked on how fast I was going downhill! Now, no-one has ever said that to me before.
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

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