Race Report: Pine Ridge 10km

Wot a Mug!

22nd November 2009

Just taken part in my 5th 10km race (this year, and ever..). The character of each race I’ve run this year has been very different, and turning up to the inaugural Pine Ridge event (run by InMotion Sport, who also organise the GRIM events), I was expecting a flattish undulating run through woodland, and given how much more running I am doing these days, was harbouring vague hopes of scoring my best time over the distance. Fat chance!

Nooo.. sadly my PB still stands at the time I did in York in August – that was a nice flat road-race from the racecourse to the City centre along the river and back. Look – here’s me in the local free paper (in the sunglasses, white vest)! Every inch the Paul Radcliffe, Nawwwwt!

Pine Ridge is quite different: peaty, boggy, sandy and strewn with tree roots. The route led from the middle of nowhere back to the same spot via a long circuit across commonland, over a footbridge spanning the A3, into woodland on the other side and up narrow spongy paths to the highest point of the race on Ockham Common. This included, at the summit of the (pine?) ridge, a steepish hill with steps cut into the path. This was also roughly the half-way point. It was nice to be told that it was downhill from there! Other hazards included fallen trees, and I had to do my 3-day eventing impression a few times to leap, colt-like over trunks of silver birch and fir, or stumps lurking insidiously at the edges of the track. Not to mention the water hazards, which as we will see, were to become both more and less significant in the latter part of the course.
* * * *
There were over 850 race entrants, according to the main website, and the organisers had to close registrations early because of over-subscription. Luckily, with the woodlands adjacent to RHS Wisley as the venue, on a cold damp November Sunday, there was plenty of parking available. There were portaloos next to the car park, which my hubby and friends availed themselves of. It was still 45 minutes short of the race so I decided to report to the start and collect my race chip. We set off following the trail of people streaming onto the common land next to Wisley village. And walked. And walked. And became more puzzled as to where the start may be… Eventually we met people heading back in the opposite direction and obviously hoping to hit the loos again before race time. After 15 minutes I was getting worried I wouldn’t have enough time to squeeze in that last vital wee. A lot of blokes obviously had the same idea and were opting for the wayside bushes and tree trunks! Ah well, if necessary, I would just have to do the same!! It was a VERY long walk to the start – at least a kilometre. When we arrived, and had collected our chips (the RFID cardboard tag type with the twisty wire ties), my friend Carol and I decided to head in the direction of the ‘Toilets’ sign, in the opposite direction form the one we’d just come. We joked that it would probably end up leading us back to the car park again. It didn’t… but it DID lead a further kilometre or so along boggy tracks, up hill and round bends until we reached the oasis of green tardises. We had to jog back and just made it to the start before the off.
* * *
So, the route was as described above, but I haven’t mentioned the best bits yet! Apart from the slightly challenging terrain, the topnote of the day was the weather. What had begun as dull, middling but mild November, with a slightly playful breeze, turned into an adventure of an epic nature. OK well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it was a fun set of climactic conditions: shortly after the halfway point, the rain started and I had to take my specs off (when will they invent rainproof ones?). This made it harder to spot the tripping hazards and I had to watch my step carefully. The rain didn’t continue to whinge down though, oh no… it picked up. I didn’t mind – it’s nice and cooling when you’re running. But after a while, it turned from jagged rain into water cannon, and then into hailstones. Joy! My fellow runners and I were giggling as we went, fellow lunatics on a quest with no purpose other than to finish. And shortly thereafter, with my running shirt plastered to my body, my pants squelching and my running shoes waterlogged, I decided not to bother skirting the puddles any more and plough straight through. With thunderclaps sounding overhead, I managed to speed past about three people pussy-footing round the bogs. I did go knee-deep at one point in a deceptively deep bit of quagmire, but amazingly managed not to slip or fall.
* * * *
Ultimately, I got round without walking; I was last of our small group of friends who were there and crossed the line on a clock time of 1hr 8. I felt GREAT! It was such a different race to the norm, and I knew it would be good practice for the GRIM in a fortnight’s time. Chip time will be just over 1 hr 6 but that’s OK. It’s about the same as I did for Mortimer in much more clement conditions, it’s better than I did at Alice Holt with its nasty hills; and I’ve got til next York to try and get under the 1 hr target I’ve set myself this year.
* * * *
I like the runners’ mugs that were handed out (‘Run Forest’ – see above). We also got nice green ‘Pine Ridge’ T-shirts which were marginally more tasteful than the ones you usually get. But best of all, coming away plastered in blackish mud, freezing cold and with knees intact and no blisters was strangely satisfying. I remarked to my husband that I’d probably come about 700th in the race, and as he encouragingly replied ‘Yeah, but that’s ahead of about 59 and a half million other British people’. Fair point!
post scriptum: Results now in and I came 594th out of 686 with a chip time of 1 hr 7:14. The only way is UP!
The winning time was 36:35.
The slowest finisher finished in 1 hr 31:24

November 22, 2009 - Posted by | 10km, pine ridge, running, weather

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