North Downs Run 30k: 26 June 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
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