A Tale of Two Dirt Runs (with apologies to Charles Dickens)

Race Reports

The Brockhampton Beast on 24th April was a fantastic race, another one of Dirt Run’s well-organised 10k events at National Trust properties (they are doing one at Croft Castle on 18th September & again in January 2017 – see http://www.dirtrun.co.uk/ ). The race headquarters were next to the old farmhouse in the middle of idyllic countryside next to a picturesque pond. The old stable courtyard had tables & seating and hot food was available after the race. The day was gloriously sunny, but not very hot, ideal for running. As usual with Dirt Run, the race itself was preceded by a Junior 2k race, which attracted a fair number of little ones of all sizes & abilities, along with some parents. After cheering home the Juniors & applauding the prizewinners, we set off through the farmyard & out into broad woodland paths. There the going got a bit muddy in places, but still quite manageable in road shoes. Pretty soon the woodland track started climbing, one of two major ascents. However, neither were particularly steep, not like the mountaineering we are used to at Presteigne Pacer events, so it was possible to run at a decent pace throughout the race. There was then a little section on tarmac, then across fields onto more beautiful woodlands paths. The scenery was stunning & the dappled shade kept the running comfortable. As we came out of the woods with about half a mile to go across a field, I finished strongly, overtaking an orange clad runner who turned out to be Matthew Rothwell from Worcester. (there were distance indicators at each mile, which I found extremely useful). Also, hearing the PA system in the distance announcing each finisher was encouraging. “Nearly there!” I was quite happy with my time of 48.28, considering the hills, finishing 18th. A delightful race, definitely planning to do it again next year.
The following Sunday 1st May Jasper & I went to Evesham Valley Country Park, where Dirt Run were holding another one of their 10k races. The site was extremely easy to find, just off the A49, a little over an hour’s drive away & with excellent facilities in the shopping centre which is part of the country park.
The main race started straight after junior presentations and consisted of two laps of 5K each, largely across grassy fields and along woodland paths, but also including fire road tracks
The previous time we were there was on New Year’s Day, when the course was extremely wet, muddy & slippery. The section along the river path was inundated in large tracts of water, up to midcalf in places and even running on the flat was very difficult where there was a camber to the path. This time it was quite different, dry & very firm, except down by the river where there were still large puddles to plough through. At a couple of places the route doubled back on itself on parallel paths, giving runners a good view of the competition in front and behind.
The front runners were pretty fast, including the 2nd & 5th placed runners who had completed the London Marathon in 2 hours 42m the previous week. This led to the field being rather strung out. Jasper finished 8th in 43.58, a significant improvement on his January performance where he finished 19th in 47.03 I came in 11th in 46.22, which not only earned me the MV 60 prize, but was also faster than all of the MV50s.
During the race I had once again been duelling with Matthew Rothwell, managing to stay ahead of him on the uphill finish. Shaking hands & chatting afterwards, he revealed that he had finished 19th at the Brockhampton Beast the previous week. I told him that I had finished one place ahead of him in that race as well, which led to mock howls of indignation & a lot of good-natured banter. Good fun!

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