The beer review will be up tomorrow, wasn't able to taste the beer before now due to being sensible after my fall. I do sit here with the glow of achievement and the colour of my various bruises however.
This Half Marathon is one of the best regarded according to the Runners World reports and it is a lovely route of the scenic countryside that is in the Mole valley in Surrey. Dorking main station is only ten minutes by foot but I was lucky enough to get a lift from a friend so could save my legs for the race.
Once I had booked in and got my chip and number (with the usual attempt to pin the number onto skin rather than clothing) I was ready for the off albeit at the back of the track I hate starting near the front as I get overtaken by most folks! There was a really great atmosphere and I could also see the crates of beer being readied for our return!
The route out of Denbies Estate leads onto the A24 which provides a fast track and I did the three miles to Sawmill Hill in 10.30 minute miles which I thought was rather good and so was feeling great until I looked to my left and saw the mountain..er..hill that the faster runners were heading up. Seriously the information when I joined did say hilly, so I did practise hills such as they are around my neck of the woods but nothing prepared me for the Hill of Doom.
I managed to run halfway before realising my walking pace was faster so I ascended the dizzy heights (without oxygen I may add) by walking and then there was a brief dip so I cheerfully headed on my way, not quite as fast as this was now trail with tree roots and leaves. Now into the Surrey countryside I could see why people call it a scenic route, the smell of leaves on the ground and the sounds of woodland life around me made the next 3 mile stretch of the route a pleasure despite the sharp upwards bits. The course photographer managed to snap some shots of me running, in which I look...mmmm...least said.
Now I have to admit I am not built for hills nor speed but I hit mile 6 at 1 hour and 9 miles so I was still feeling good and I saw two buzzards starting a slow climb in the air which was magical to see. I knew I wasn’t going to hit the magical 2hours 15 for the whole thing but I knew that when I saw the Hill of Doom but I was still on for a good time. The next mile and a bit was fine but before mile 8 there was what I can only describe as a tree root ladder, I scrambled up this with about as much dignity as a womble chasing a crisp packet in the wind but I did make it and started my way back on the return journey.
At mile 9, saw the cheering party with the tiny spaniel puppy and entered the trail to the Hill of Doom but luckily I would be going down rather than up this time. This Half Marathon has the best support around the route I have ever had, friendly folk who do make you feel like you are flying along rather than plodding despite what the course photographs try and tell you.
However, disaster! A discarded gel packet in amongst the leafy trail sent me flying, after breaking my fall with my hands I rolled to one side. Luckily my head hit last so was more a knock than a full bang. After checking I was ok, I tried on unfortunately in tears but I still carried on. Warned the marshall at the top of the hill about the gel packets being discarded but as I was in the last lot of runners no-one else took the same trip thankfully.
The last three and bit miles were done in a combo of run and walking, due to pain and I suspect a little bit of ‘I want to go home wahh’ however as I entered the Denbies Estate the runners who finished way before me and were heading to their cars were really encouraging with cheers of you are nearly there and clapping I made it to the end in a time of 2hours 46 minutes, 31 minutes slower than I wanted but I did do it even with falls and mountains involved. And I got my lovely t-shirt and a bottle of Badger Beer!
But I will be back next year though, I will get that time I wanted… You hear me Hill I will beat you!