Just over 8 weeks after Brighton Marathon, with training once again going ok having increased my base mileage to roughly 30 miles a week and introduced more cross training, I thought it was perhaps time to enter another race.
The aptly titled Hard As Snails 10k, is a local race in Guildford, starting just over a mile from where I live, and taking in much of my preferred trail running route. It’s also on a Wednesday evening, rather than a weekend, so makes a nice change. The 10k loop (there is also a 5k option), starts at Chantry Woods, steadily climbing towards the lung busting St Martha’s Church ascent, a nice run down the other side, before looping back to climb towards Newlands Corner, tacking St Martha’s for a second attempt, before the run in back down through the woods.
The weather was fairly kind, remaining dry but fairly humid (a sign of the storms that would hit later that evening). The previous weeks showers had created a few muddy sections through the covered woods, but other than that the course was fairly dry. At 7.00pm promptly we were set off. With the 5k and 10k runners starting at the same time, the start and first few kms, where quite crowded as people weaved around the muddier patches. The run through Chantry Woods starts on a slight incline, which gradually steepens until you reach St Martha’s. The hill, reaching a height of 574 feet quickly stretches the pack out. As the 5k runners looped back, those attempting the 10k, ran down the other side of the hill (not easy in itself as much of the trail is made up of sand). It was then a nice down hill section giving me a chance to really stretch the legs as we headed round to Newlands Corner. The trails narrowed slightly here, meaning it was easy to get stuck behind a slower runner, fortunately the group I’d attached myself to seemed to run at a similar pace.
The climb up to Newlands is less steep than St Marthas but stretches on for longer, and seemed to ‘break’ many of the runners. Although my pace dropped dramatically I managed to keep ‘running’ to the top. Turning across the top of Newlands, we then headed back down Guildford Lane, before a second ascent of St Marthas. Still with a little group, we dropped into single file as we plodded up through the sand to the summit. A quick admire of the view in passing before motoring down the other side.
The finish back through Chantry woods, although slightly undulating in sections is basically all down hill. So I was pleased to stretch out the hill climbs from my legs and try to gain a few seconds.
I’d had no real time goal in mind for the race, but was fair pleased to finish just under 51 mins (50:54); although sub-50 would have been nice. This put me at 43rd out of 232 runners, and 11th in my age category.
Overall a fun event, and as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into with the hills, one I’d recommend.