I had been wanting to do this race for a couple of years. It has a really good reputation as being well organised and friendly, and it definitely was those things!
It was also tougher than I had expected.
Pete, the kids and I drove about 24 miles to the small, pretty town of Wadhurst, where the race start was. From the town, we had to walk down a farm lane to the start of the race in between some farm fields, where there were cakes, drinks, a brass band and a piper!
There were 684 runners in total, so quite a crowd to get thorough a narrow lane, but it was chip-timed, so the wait to start didn't matter. The course was mostly around Bewl Water - a country park around a large reservoir. This meant it was very much off-road!
As I've never run a 15-mile race before, and as this was a fairly unique trail course, I didn't have any goal time in mind. That meant I could relax a bit and enjoy the surroundings. There were some good views, and the weather was cool with occasional rain and occasional outbreak of warm sun.
I enjoyed the first 7 or 8 miles, but started to find it quite hard work from then on. I think I had underestimated the extra effort involved in the terrain, which was quite hard to negotiate at times and I had to really concentrate on where I put my feet.
From about 10 miles, the race started heading uphill. This is where I started chatting with other runners - mostly swearwords at the hills! I took a slice of orange from a volunteer, and as I bit into it, I choked on the juice. A woman behind me gave me the last of her bottle of water - thank goodness for her help! Then I started chatting to a man called Eddie at the foot of a hill, and our short conversation got me up the hill without really noticing it - thanks Eddie!
As we got into a field near the end, a man with a South African accent started urging others on, and complaining about the hills. We saw a sign which said 400 metres to go, then turned a corner and met another hill. The air turned blue with expletives!
As we saw the finish, I was level with 2 men. We had a joke about sprinting to the finish (I was barely jogging by this point) but they both got ahead of me. Then I saw Robbie and Emma at the side of the path, urging me on. We high 5'd as I passed, and as I stumbled towards the finish, I heard Emma shouting 'Come on Mummy!', which definitely helped!
I was so exhausted. I felt almost as spent as when I did my marathons. At the finish we got a medal and free t-shirt, both showing the image of the lake. There was also free cake!!! BEST FINISH EVER!!
My time was 2h30m07s! My position was around 530 / 684 (but the results were given by gun time, not chip time). I'd like to do it again now I have a time to beat, but I think I'd do more training next time!