Sunday, February 24, 2013

Killerton Park Run (aka Ashclyst Forest)

The biggest challenge in doing a Park run for us is always getting to the start line for 9am, apparently we're not morning people.......However, this outing involved additional pressure since Killerton has temporarily relocated to Ashclyst forest whilst the permanent course dries out - we both (incorrectly) assumed that the other one knew where we were going.  At 8.45am therefore we were in a village store in Broadclyst several miles away asking for directions.......

Arriving with about 7 minutes to spare the next dilemma presented itself, woodland car park in the middle of nowhere - no toilets. After 75 minutes of Martin's driving and the additional stress caused by the navigational challenges this was a real issue and caused a rapid plunge into the forest in search of solitude.  Very sparse covering vegetation at this time of year and a lot of people warming up meant that it was not a particularly successful mission.

Park Run have done a great job of finding a new course in a very short time.  They had used Ashclyst Forest for the first time the previous week and there had apparently been some issues causing a change to the course this week.  The pre race brief explained that it was now 3 "almost complete" laps and warned of so many hazards - loose stones, protruding tree stumps, loose shale, ice - that we began to wonder what we had let ourselves in for.

This was my first "race" since September and Martin had decided to run it with me.  We lined up somewhat further back than our customary aggressive front line position and set off at a decidedly steadier pace than the norm.  The course followed a woodland trail, which despite the warnings we found fairly easy running and the field soon spread out as we enjoyed a gentle downhill start.  We should, of course, have expected that any pleasant downhill would be paid for later and the inevitable climb back up through the car park soon followed.  This seemed a lot longer and steeper than the preceeding downhill and knowing that we had to climb it twice more did not help!

The lap actually seemed quite short and we were soon running past the finishing funnel and crossing the start line to start our second loop.  A long break from racing has seen me lose my competitive edge and although there were a couple of girls running ahead of me I felt none of the usual compulsion to mount a challenge, this race was just about getting back into competition and getting an idea of just how much hard work there is ahead to get back to pre injury level running.

Strangely the second lap seemed longer and the hill steeper and this pattern repeated itself on the final lap when I realised that the hill was actually a small mountain...but at least once we got to the top it was just a short and mostly downhill "sprint" to the finish.  We crossed the line in 23.47 and 23.50, not bad all things considered although given the nature of the course I still don't have any real idea of how much pace I've lost

After another magical mystery tour around the forest we finally found our way out onto the A30 and scurried into the lovely warmth of the Boston Tea Party in Honiton to thaw out and enjoy post race coffee and breakfast.........and all this accomplished before we would normally have even got out of bed, thank you Park Run!