Linda’s Ilmington Race Review

A misty grey day. Keith drives us, (that’s me, plus Ann and Sally who I persuaded it would be A GOOD THING!), and puts up with all our girly banter.   Arriving in good time, a smiley marshal directs us left; we pass a couple more marshals, then come to an un-manned T-junction. So where’s the car park? We drive round in a circle and stop to enquire as the smiley marshal waves at us for the second time! It’s roadside parking…ah. A short walk to the clubhouse where we collect our race numbers and re-usable timing chips which thread onto our shoelaces. Oh dear, I have stretchy Lock-Laces, which don’t undo. They’ve clearly dealt with difficult customers before and immediately provide the solution – a small cable tie. (They also had scissors to hand to cut it at the end!)

There is a lovely relaxed atmosphere as competitors queue for the toilets, study route maps, debate whether gloves are needed, and stand around chatting (special topic – HILLS).

Our multi-coloured leggings (girls only!) are getting appreciative looks and comments as we line up on the road. Keith places himself somewhat further forward than us girls. The figure-of-8 route is run in opposite directions on alternating races in the Series. A show of hands indicates we are running the favourite way round.

The hooter sounds at 10.30 a.m. and we enjoy the slightly downhill first 1km. Then THE HILL disappears into the mist above us as we turn left. This is the highest hill in Warwickshire and goes up, steeply, for the next 2km. The front runners (and Keith!)probably ran it, but virtually everyone at our end of the field is reduced to walking. Even so, we gradually overtake one lady who seems determined to jog, and save our running muscles a bit. It is tarmac, but very muddy.

Finally, joy of joys, we round a bend and it’s downhill! I am just a few yards ahead of Ann and Sally (and many behind Keith!) at this point.

I slowly pass a couple of girls and comment I am impressed they still have enough energy to chat. Then one of them surges past decisively – clearly wanting to show me a thing or two! We pass the water station at 5km, then, as we near Ilmington again, the slope steepens, not so comfortable on the legs.

Coming towards us on the other side of the road are runners who have already completed the second, shorter, loop to the east of the village and are heading for the Finish. As I start this loop I can’t believe how fast I am running (for me that is!) and I am still slowly but steadily overtaking others. I am working hard but feel good, totally immersed in the race. I take a quick look back across the fields but can’t spot Sally and Ann.

Loop completed and after a right turn, I push to overtake another lady before the finish. I am surprised at this point to discover the finish is round yet another corner!

Then a short spurt (not exactly a sprint) over grass to the Finish line, where Keith is cheering. I am thrilled to have beaten 1 hr and Keith is very happy to go below 50 mins. By the time I have grabbed some water, Sally is crossing the line too, and we all use our maximum lung power as Ann follows close behind.

The ‘goody bag’ is a pack of sausages from a local butcher (with leek, coriander and chilli). Ann wants a medal (vegetarian!).

We pop into the clubhouse to collect our bag of warm tops and check our times on the PC provided. There are hot drinks and home-made cakes for sale, but we walk back to the car and sit with our own tea, coffee and cereal bars, under fleecy blankets, exchanging our run experiences.

We are unanimous, we would do it again!!! Despite the BIG HILL! It was small (less than 300 participants) and friendly, with encouraging marshals, and scenic (positively atmospheric in the mist!). Oh, and cheap at £9. The sausages were also some of the best we have had