Serpie Planner - event reports

North Downs Run 30k (29 Jun 2003)

Travel was easy a scheduled bus service the 498 runs from outside the Gravesend train station once an hour. The venue is an out of town fully equipped older type municipal sports and pool complex. As the field was small showering and changing were more than adequate. The first desperate scramble for several metres is halted by decent into a hedgerow bordered single file path setting the norm for what is a single file run until ~ 20K when the fatigued field opens the way to increase your pace. Farmed and wooded down land tracks predominate with only a short distance on tarmac and no final road section as in previous years. Sunglasses are a liability unless you can feel the way over occasional Pony Club sized obstacles in the densely wooded sections.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself but that may be partly explained by my regular 45 minute sessions on a 15 degree inclined treadmill. The field seemed to drop away literally by the side of the track on several occasions. Steep Ups topped by railway embankments chopped the legs away from most roadrunners.

North Downs Run 30k (26 Jun 2005)

As my thighs were turning to concrete and my heart pounding fit to burst from climbing yet another steep ascent towards the end of this incredibly scenic, off-road race, what was going through my mind was the quotation from Dryden: "All the happiness mankind can gain, is not in pleasure but relief from pain". By 20k, I just wanted it to be over: I stopped worrying whether a female would pass me, and hurried on as best I could, the sooner to put an end to the pain. Mercifully, evey kilometre had a marker, and the countdown to the finish thus made the task manageable.

I doubt my emotions were much different from those of the couple of hundred other competitors - a high proportion of them veterans - who took on the challenge of what has to be one of the most beautiful races anywhere. The poppies were in full bloom in the chalky fields we climbed and descended; there was lots of pretty woodland to run through; numerous stiles and kissing gates to overcome, and no risk of getting lost because the course was so well-marked and marshalled. Every hazard had a notice too, and there were 6 water, sponge and jelly-baby stations manned by enthusiastic helpers.

The weather was very kind to us: much cooler than the past week and overcast, making it pretty comfortable for running. And the prizes were better than the London marathon's! Stirling won 5th Senior Male and I won the 45-54 women's prize, which secured me Sweatshop vouchers and a lovely engraved crystal wine-glass, which I am sure will be put to good use! (The prize for winning my age-category in London, and beating nearly 1,000 other women of my age, was...a wooden plaque - thanks David Bedford). All finishers were rewarded with T-shirt, snacks and water and the immense satisfaction of not having to climb another hill today. A very well-run event altogether.

report by Karen Hancock

North Downs Run 30k (25 Jun 2006)

A brave group of serpies had a good day out on Sunday at the North Downs
Run 30k from Gravesend in Kent. This is an undulating course over paths
and tracks, pretty much all off-road with only brief road sections,
winding its way through the woodland, fields and parkland of Kent\'s
beautiful countryside.

The route starts off across local golf courses and farmland with gentle
and not so gentle descents before climbing onto the top of the north
downs ridge, then another descent, across more fields and over the
famous \"Cricket Pitch Hill\" with the beautiful poppy scenery - if you
have seen David Knight\'s photo in the club room of the poppy fields from
this race a couple of years ago, it should give you a good idea of the
scenery we had to take our minds off the tough hills! The course then
passes through pretty Kent apple orchards, chocolate box style villages
and shady woodland before the final challenging uphill section, back
onto the fields and golf course towards the finish. There were also
plenty of kissing gates, steps and stiles for me to realise during the
race that my legs would be feeling pretty stiff, even two days after the

The race was extremely well marked (no chance of getting lost) and well
marshalled (apparently over 90 of them) with loads of water stops and
virtually every exposed tree root on the course sprayed with orange
paint. I was sorely tempted by the offer of a beer at the 25km water
station manned by the local hash, but bravely stuck to the more sensible
offers of jelly babies and water. We were all rewarded with excellent
free cakes and biscuits at the finish.

As for results, Karen Hancock won 1st prize in the V45 category with a
time of 2hrs 33, and we also picked up the 3rd team prize for the ladies
(Karen Hancock, Valerie Metcalf and Emily Robinson). First male serpie
home was Stirling Slingerland in 2hrs 24 - not bad considering his 3rd
prize at the Arhuus marathon only last weekend! - with Rob Murray a
close 20 seconds behind him.

I would recommend this race to anyone who fancies something a bit
different, doesn\'t mind the fact that it is much slower than a road
race, and can cope with hobbling around for a couple of days with legs
feeling as if you have run a marathon. I think it\'s much prettier than
the Meon Valley Plod - less chance of getting lost en route, and much,
much less mud.

Well done to all who ran, particularly the 80 year old chap who finished
in around 4 hours!

Report by Emily Robinson

North Downs Run 30k (20 Jun 2010)

Will won overall. Eric was 3rd and James 10th. They also won the men's team competition, and so did the women: Fiona, Natalie and Jennifer.

Full results on

North Downs Run 30k (19 Jun 2011)

Huw won the in a new race record. Darren was 3rd and with Jolyon coming in 10th they won the team prize.