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Thread: Seagrave Wolds Challenge

  1. #1
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    Seagrave Wolds Challenge

    This is an annual 16-mile event, billed as being for “walkers and runners”. There were two motivations for entering this. Firstly, I wanted to do something a little beyond my comfort zone in terms of distance, and a local event (where it wouldn’t matter too much if it all went belly-up) seemed ideal. Secondly, I was getting a bit fed up with repeatedly missing races that I wanted to do, for a variety of reasons; colds, railway strikes, clashes with other commitments, etc.; so I was happy to do just about anything that was available

    The entry form had an interesting feature. There were three age categories: under 16, 16-65, and over 65, with reduced fees for the first and third categories. As a 65-year-old, which category did I belong in? This could only be resolved by treating 65 as a Real Number rather than an Integer: I am approximately 65.4 years old, so definitely over 65.

    The route was only revealed three days before the event, because some of it is over private land, away from public rights of way (it changes each year, although they try to keep the distance the same). They say that they always try to keep it off the roads, but there was at least 5 miles of tarmac; it was going to be a test of my tolerance of tarmac as well as my ability to run a long distance. I was expecting the off-road stuff to include plenty of gloopy mud after the recent deluges, but in fact there was hardly any mud, even in cattle grazing fields.

    On a clear, sunny morning, a 41-minute cycle ride took me to Seagrave village hall (passing a queue of traffic at the turn-off to the car park field), where an unexpected sound greeted me: they had a bagpiper, playing a variety of tunes to welcome us. After a minute’s silence for Armistice Day, we were off at 9:00am. All went well (apart from all that tarmac in the first three miles) until the road out of Hoby, around mile 8, where I got cramp (which is quite unusual for me). A half-mile or so of walking, during which I consumed a cereal bar, alleviated this, and the cramp wasn’t a problem for the rest of the route, although I could sometimes feel it in the background. I was gradually slowing down, and I did have to walk a few more sections through sheer tiredness (and consume another cereal bar and numerous jelly babies). Around mile 13, we were going through the grounds of Ratcliffe College, a Catholic school; along one path, they had set out the Stations of the Cross, which seemed grimly appropriate to how my legs were feeling by that stage. But at the finish I was quite satisfied that I had probably walked no more than 2 miles of the route. The cramp reasserted itself while I was cycling home.

    I had been targeting a time of 3 hours, so finishing in 2:42:16 was very satisfying. The fastest finisher did 1:53:35, so I was within my benchmark of winner’s time + 50%, which I rarely achieve in fell races these days; but the Seagrave Wolds Challenge is not the sort of event that attracts the racing snakes.

    Recently I reported that at the Teggs Nose fell race I had met a runner whom I had known over 40 years ago when I was at Cambridge, where I had been a postgraduate student. Today I met someone whom I had known in the Orienteering Club at St Andrews, where I was an undergraduate. Tess Kay is no relation to me (although she has a brother called Anthony!), and had been one of the first people I met when I came to Loughborough, where she was already a lecturer in the Sport and Exercise Science Department. She has worked in other universities since then, but has come back to this part of the world on retiring.
    Last edited by anthonykay; 11-11-2023 at 06:24 PM.
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

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