I hope that everyone is having an awesome week. I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. As someone once said to me; time flies, whether you’re wasting it or not.
Anyway. Some of you know that I set myself the challenge of finishing 10 races in 2018. On Sunday I completed my fifth race; the Abbott Trail 10k run.So what did I think of the Abbott Trail 10k run? Would I enter it again? What was the course like? Would I recommend the race to other runners?
As always, I wasted quite a lot of time worrying about the weather. Would the heatwave of 2018 break before the race? Were the weather forecasts getting my hopes up? Happily when I opened my bedroom window on Sunday morning, I discovered that it was cool, wet and windy. A real contrast to the previous weekend.
I went through my usual pre-race routine and my friend collected me and drove me the short distance to Hopwas. The temperature was a cool 15°c, ideal for running in, not so great for the marshals and supporters. Race HQ was located in a marquee behind the social club. I was so early, number and race chip collection was quick and easy. I was then left with the task of keeping myself entertained (and out of the rain) for almost an hour. I managed to find loads of runners to talk to but failed to keep dry. Some you win, some you lose.
Following a brief warm-up and a short speech, I walked the short distance to the start area and watched the 5k runners begin their race at 10:00. I don’t think the photo I took quite captured the rain, by this stage it was
pretty epic pissing it down.The 10k should have started 15 minutes after the 5k. Fortunately, the race organisers used a bit of common sense and didn’t make us wait around in the rain. I positioned myself near the back of the 10k runners, checked my GPS was working and was so busy talking to another runner completely missed the start of the race.
The first section of the course ran alongside the Coventry Canal and was lovely and flat. We then turned left into Hopwas Wood and the fun and games started. I realised that we would be [running] scrambling up the hill that destroyed my right knee during the Cathedral to Castle Run earlier this year. If I thought running down Mount Hopwas was difficult, trying to run up it was even more challenging. I’m not ashamed to admit that I slowed to a walk when I realised walking was faster than ‘running’. The first mile took 11:21.
Mile two was far, far more enjoyable. The course was still challenging and I had to spend the whole time looking at the ground, but it was fun. Once I realised that this wasn’t a ‘fast’ course, I decided to slow down and to enjoy myself. I made sure that I thanked every marshal – even those taking potentially terrible photos – as far too many other runners were completely silent. It’s a shame the weather was so terrible; we would have had some amazing views across the Staffordshire countryside.
[Photo: Simon’s Heroes]
The third mile took us out of Hopwas Woods and around the edge of what felt like the largest field in history, back down towards the Coventry Canal, along the canal and then back towards where we started. I can’t recall exactly when I worked out I would have to navigate Mount Hopwas for a second time. i suspect I probably stopped smiling when I realised.
I think it’s safe to say that mile four was not very enjoyable. My legs did not appreciate having to negotiate Mount Hopwas a second time. Much to the horror of one of the race marshals, I actually stopped for a couple of seconds to take some slightly blurry photos of the halfway point of Mount Hopwas.
I was *very* pleased to reach the water station at the top of Mount Hopwas. The hardest part of the course was behind me, it was more or less downhill towards the finish.
The penultimate mile was quite eventful. I managed to get myself caught up in some brambles; fortunately my lucky Lululemon shorts survived. A male runner almost slipped over right in front of me. I checked to make sure he was OK, and then decided to run in front of him as he was clearly having some traction related issues. I’ve no idea what happened to him, but at one stage I couldn’t see any runners in front of me or behind me. A slightly surreal experience.
[Photo: Simon’s Heroes]
Mile six was great fun. I managed to safely navigate my way down a slightly tricky hill without landing on my arse, and onto the path that runs alongside the Coventry Canal. Have I mentioned how much I have an irrational phobia of canals before?
I used my canal phobia to my advantage, ignored my tired legs, increased my pace, and completed the final mile in a respectable for me 9:46.
I’m still waiting for the official results to be published, but I crossed the line in approximately 01:05:xx.
A friendly paramedic removed my timing chip from my ankle – a good job because I’d completely forgotten about it – and walked the short distance to the Race HQ to collect my medal and goody bag.
While the medal was quite impressive, I thought that the goody bag was pretty disappointing. To be completely honest, all I want after an organised race is a bottle of water and a banana or apple. I can live without flyers, healthy snacks and other bits of paper.
I hung around for a couple of minutes in the marquee trying to get my breath back, plucked up the courage to ask a random runner to take a photo of me
posing with wearing my medal, and then headed back into the relative warmth of the social club.
Just as I was starting to get worried I’d been abandoned in Hopwas, my friend phoned asking where I was. Opps. I arranged to meet him in the car park of the Tame Otter pub and ran along the canal path to meet him.
As this race report has turned into a bit of an essay, I’ll stop waffling and will leave you with some Strava stats. I think it’s safe to say I found Mount Hopwas challenging.
So would I recommend the Abbott Trail 10k run? Definitely, but I’d also recommend wearing trail shoes if it’s wet. Some of the downhill sections were a little ‘hairy’ in places. Advice I’ll follow myself if I enter the race again next year.
- Cost: 8/10 – £20 (plus £1 service charge) – all profits went to charity
- Course: 9/10
- Medal: 8/10
- Race t-shirt: n/a
- Goody Bag: 2/10
Do you have any tips for tackling really steep hills? I tried taking shorter strides, focusing on something in the distance, slowing my pace etc but still found myself walking.
How long do you think it should take race organisers to publish official race results? Judging some of the comments on social media, runners now expect chip times and race results to be published more or less instantly.