Well, that was fun. Lots and lots of fun. And what helped make it fun because enjoying myself today was the last thing I’d imagined would happen.
At a race a few weeks ago I got handed a flyer for the forthcoming Cultra Charity Challenge 10k to take place at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
The flyer showed an image of what looked like the medal which featured a DeLorean car as it’s centrepiece. I didn’t think too much of it at the time because I thought it was just a graphic to help illustrate the event …. but, as time passed, it became clear that this WAS the medal, it DID feature a DeLorean so this automatically made it a race I simply HAD to take part in. I couldn’t not do this one, what sort of Back To The Future fan would I be if I didn’t have this medal in my collection?
I never gave the event too much thought until the night before when I thought I’d take a wee look at the course.
Oh my giddy aunt!
It looked quite hilly. Oh dear. But, I reassured myself, surely it couldn’t be *that* bad. The odd wee ‘bump’ here and there, that’s all there’d be, I told myself.
Anyway, meeting the rest of the club crew at the park ‘n’ ride, I got a lift there and back with Judith, which was brilliant and she was great company.
Arriving at the venue we met up with lots more from the club, including one or two who’d done the same event last year …. and immediately the warnings came about the hills! Gulp.
Most of them were doing the 5k, for some reason I thought it’d be a good idea, when I entered, to do the full 10k, which was basically two laps of the course. There was the option to change distance on the day but I decided just to stick with what I had.
So off we set. The 10k went first, doing a lap of the ‘Town Square’ before looping back to the start with the 5k lot then coming in behind us. From there the course went downhill quite steeply to the exit of the Folk Museum and crossing the bridge linking it to the Transport Museum.
We then did one circuit of the carpark (the 5k didn’t include this) before turning back for the Folk Museum and the start of an almost continuous uphill climb.
My goodness, it was absolutely brutal.
When it levelled off a little there always seemed to be a turn and an even steeper hill than the one we’d just come up. I tried to run up them, at least a bit, but at times it was impossible. In fact, one part in particular I absolutely defy anyone to run up it … I could barely walk it!!!
I knew then why ‘challenge’ was included in the title of the race. This was *very* challenging, made even more difficult because large parts of it were run on the trail – but as tough as they were it was also hugely enjoyable. I have very little experience of such conditions so it was a little tricky finding my feet but because it was different from tarmac it kept it interesting.
One lap down, the faster 5k runners had caught and passed me and I was yards away from the finishing line … and I had to go around again! However, rather than moan about it I actually didn’t mind now that I knew what lay ahead.
So back downhill again, to make up for some lost time, which was tough on my by now exhausted legs but yet I surprised myself too, some of the hills I took better second time around.
By now I wasn’t terribly worried about my time. I was happy enough with how I was running, and I was happy that there were two men behind me … so I resolved to keep them there. Do that (which I did) and I’d be content (which I was), even better considering both of them were about ten years younger than me. There’s life in this old boy yet!
Because I wasn’t concerned about my time I resolved on the second lap to take some pictures along the way. It was a lovely course – hardly surprising given the location – so I thought I’d record it, and to try to get across just how steep some of those climbs were!
I plodded on, mindful of the two blokes behind me and I started to pull away, eventually opening up a gap of some seven and 14 minutes respectively on them. For me that was a result!
Even better, if I’d done the 5k there would have been loads and loads behind me based on my time at the halfway point. I’m pretty chuffed with that, to be honest.
Today’s race was organised by the Born2Run group, who hosts a series of trail races all over the winter months. As I said earlier I have little experience of this type of running but because I enjoyed myself as much as I did I’m going to try to book a couple of them, work permitting, to keep my motivation going.
If they’re all as much fun as today was I’ll have a ball!
By the way, seeing as you’re here … a little favour? If you enjoy my blog could I be so bold as to beg for your vote at the Running Awards? Click here and navigate your way to Publications & Online > Blogs > Huff, Puff and Shuffle. I’ll not win but I’ll mean loads to me to get some votes!