North Downs Run 30k: 25 June 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
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
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