Saturday, July 31, 2010


Sunday 25th July saw the Westgates at the sixth running of the Seaview 17, and also my sixth time at this event. Weather forecast was promising – some clouds and not too hot. By the time we reached the comfort stop at County Gate we had made contact with the clouds and the start at Countisbury was shrouded in a ghostly mist.

Richard had prepared well with his camelback and energy drink. I decided to abandon the camera, as there wasn’t much of a view of the sea or anything else.

First half of the race went well and I ran for some with Ross Hale from Bitton Road Runners whose partner Linette Porter was up near the front. She was going for a good time, we were just chatting. Passed the usual jelly baby stops and managed not to get lost before Hurlestone Combe. Slogged up the steep bit and jogged along the top until the weary feet found an invisible rock and I went flying. Bent glasses, various bruises including a black eye and completely removed the scar and surrounding skin from where I had fallen on my hand three weeks before at Forde Abbey. Pretty painful!!! Was also winded for a few minutes, but thank you to all the runners who stopped to make sure I was OK. I blame the shock for what happened next. Having run this race five times before I should know the way by now but for some reason I found myself on a nice grassy downhill path which definitely wasn’t part of the route. Unfortunately for them some runners followed me along this path. The sight of others on the path above proved where we should have been. Half a mile later we were back on course and just about to start the long descent into Minehead.

As it was a cloudy day the seafront was slightly less crowded and as I crossed the road I spotted a figure ahead in a yellow vest and with a camelback – could it be Richard. It was. He was walking at quite a good pace as I gently trotted past. After a minute he managed to join me and we finished the last leg past Tescos and up to the Leisure Centre together. He managed to get ahead on the last 100 yards and I didn’t feel like a sprint finish, but he later confessed that he couldn’t have gone any faster if I had wanted to race it.

There was the usual excellent selection of sandwiches, cakes, teas etc. which one of us enjoyed straight away. And we watched and cheered as the rest of the runners came in. For the record we finished in 3:48:36. (A PB for me).

Richard says: I never intended to actually race this one, but even at a sedate pace my stomach kicked me in the stomach shortly past the top of Hurlestone Combe. I was forced to a demoralising walk and soon enough Eleanor Wood and Freddie Fox went past me. It was just too painful to run so I broke into a fast walk and luckily settled into a happy rhythm. Surprisingly not that many went past and I was completely on my own through Minehead until the Seaward roundabout when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Without turning round I called out well done and then as a white cap went past I realised it was Lesley. I had been hoping to walk the final mile but the wife had come past earlier than expected, and stubborn pride kicked in and I just had to run to the finish beating her by a second.

PS I was going to add some pictures but can't get it to work. See Minehead Running Club Website - Seaview - Photos

Monday, July 12, 2010

Maiden Castle Loop

For the third race in a row the Maiden Newton contingent numbered five runners, although not the same five as the previous two.  Unlike last year when it was so wet that Richard Orme was marshalling in a wet suit the weather was fine if a little hot as we gathered for the 7pm start.

Those in the know started at the front and went off like rockets to avoid the bottleneck in the narrow path shortly after the start.  Having spotted a couple of potential rivals I had another reason to start at an idiotic pace with the idea that I'd get a bit of a head start.  However as we reached the road and turned right towards the Castle I became aware of a female Poole runner breathing down my neck and consequently went up the first hill rather faster than I otherwise would have done.  I managed to shake her off by galloping madly down the uneven field on the other side with scant regard for ankles.  I was also spurred on by Dave Carnell, needed to put enough distance between us so that I couldn't hear him whining............

A sharp left turn at the bottom and onto the road for a nice easy spell, and as I neared the turn back up to the Castle I could see Martin ahead labouring up the hill.  He didn't seem very far ahead and for one foolish moment I actually thought I might be able to catch him, although by the time I'd laboured up same hill I didn't see him again until the finish!!  My female rival was back on my heels but from the sound of her breathing she was working even harder than me so once I reached the ramparts of the castle I stepped up the pace and managed to pass a couple of male runners and open up a bit of a gap on her.  I heard Charlie shouting encouragement as we passed on the ramparts and managed a brief wave, no breath for calling back as I concentrated on keeping the pace and resisted the temptation to look back.

The final descent off the castle was a welcome sight and I practiced my new downhill running technique as advised by my personal coach, turned right at the bottom onto the track and risked a quick glance back.  I was going pretty much flat out along this easy stretch so unless my rival was doing 100m pace there was no way she was going to make up the ground she had lost. (My Garmin later confirmed that I ran mile 6 at 6.20 pace which is better than my usual 5k pace!!).

All that remained was to retrace my steps along the road and back up the path to the school and over my dead body was any other woman passing me at that late stage in the race!  Martin was somewhat taken aback to see me arriving at the finish quite so soon after him (he had finished an excellent 9th overall and first MV50).  Hopefully he'll be the one glancing nervously over his shoulder in future races!!

We saw Dave over the line and then jogged back down to give Charlie some heavy encouragement as she closed the gap on Andy in a very strong finish...but couldn't quite beat him to the line as he finished 7 seconds ahead of her.  Another enjoyable race with good results all round, next up the 25th anniversary Haytor Heller next Saturday evening.