Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Axmouth Challenge

It’s been five years since we last ran the Axmouth Challenge – back in the good old days when it wasn’t a question of if I could beat Martin but how much I would beat him by (1 minute 32 seconds in 2004). Sighs............................... Anyway back to the cold hard reality of a fairly tough, part off road ten miler two weeks post a nasty dose of flu. After the sub zero temperatures of late, it was a positively balmy morning if a little damp around the edges and it was great to be running without multiple layers of frost protection on.

Since our last visit here the course has been changed to exclude the stretch along the beach, Grizzly style, and after an interesting start – no warning, took everyone by surprise – we enjoyed the slightly downhill charge alongside the estuary before turning left to start the tough and seemingly endless climb up the track to the golf course and across the fields at the top.

The race follows quiet country lanes with stretches on tracks and footpaths, and loops around crossing the route no less than four times. Even though I had studied the course map beforehand I soon became totally confused and at every junction it seemed that we were turning the opposite direction to the one I would have expected. However, the route was well marshalled and signed so there was never any danger of becoming lost.

Martin had decided to run with me, mainly because he had spotted a fellow male vet 50 rival who he knew he wouldn’t beat, but I think also partly because he didn’t really feel up to pushing himself too hard. Anyway, whatever the reason I was glad of the support as I found this a really tough run – it’s the furthest I’ve run since July, and the three months off with my Achilles injury. It seemed to me that we were running uphill almost the entire time apart from two or three short sharp downhill swoops!

Towards the end of the race we finally managed to burn off an Axe Valley Runner who had been stubbornly keeping pace with us for several miles and as we enjoyed the final downhill stretch back into the village Martin decided to sprint ahead and overtake the runner in front of us too. I made a feeble effort to do the same and did manage to close the gap, but the legs were too weak for serious sprinting today. We finished in 1.22.35 and 1.22.42 respectively, not too disappointing all things considered.

Afterwards we claimed our free cake and coffee in the village hall and I picked up a medal for being 3rd lady.

This is a great little race which almost ceased to exist a few years ago until Axe Valley Runners stepped in to help the village hall with the organisation. The field was small (47 competitors in the full challenge, although there was also a supporting mini challenge) and made up predominantly of a vast contingent of AVRs. However it’s just the sort of race I like, low key and friendly with sensible entry fees and it’s a great way to kick off a new year of racing.