I was feeling anxious about the Coxhoe 10k for many reasons. Firstly I’d had a bad hamstring all week and wasn’t sure if I should be running at all, secondly I’d realised at the last minute it wouldn’t make sense to bring the family so was feeling guilty about leaving them and finally it was my first race as a Strider and I wasn’t sure if I would recognise anyone or who would be there. Although I’d been to a couple of Wednesday night sessions I was aware that there are so many Striders it was entirely possible I wouldn’t see anyone I knew!
My concerns disappeared as soon as I got into the registration hall and saw Steph Piper who, despite injury made me feel part of the Strider family as always. Outside I bumped into Anna and Flip and we walked from the Coxhoe Leisure Centre to the start of the race (about 1km away). I was glad to have some company as I suspect I would never have found the start by myself! At the start I met several other Striders and a few other friends and most of us commented on how we didn’t know the area at all and yet it seemed to be a great running area. Somebody later mentioned to me that there had been a Coxhoe race several years ago but it had had to be cancelled due to problems with closing roads so I was glad to see good support for a new race which had obviously taken a great deal of effort to get off the ground.
After a few safety announcements we were off. The race started with a steep downhill which was fun but quite hair-raising given the number of runners very close to each other. We then spread out fairly well for what I’d describe as a toughish but very enjoyable undulating course. For the first couple of miles the path was quite easy and very pretty. As we came off the main path up a steepish hill there was a cameraman poised ready to get us looking our absolute worst (but also giving us encouragement up the hill). The course takes you round the quarry and then back along the path you went out on. It’s generally an easyish path but with a couple of roads to cross. On the way back Danny Lim was encouraging us all and taking photos. I’d read that the course had a sting in the tail and they weren’t kidding. At what I thought was the end we could see people cheering us up the steep hill which we’d begun by going down. It was tough after nearly 6 miles of hard running but as I thought it was the end I was happy to give it one last push. Little did I realise that wasn’t the end after all and we had another half a mile or so to go up through the woods to a field higher up where the finishing line was. That climb through the woods really got me and I even had to walk a little but I have to admit it was a clever route. We finished in the field above the start which meant we could cheer runners on as they came into the last half mile.
At the finish there was plenty of water and mars bars on offer and there was a lovely atmosphere with runners cheering each other on and chatting to each other. I enjoyed catching up with the other Striders and went home buzzing. All in all I thought it was a really good race – well organised and challenging without being too painful. The negative for me would be that the registration was quite a walk from the race (just because it puts you off bringing young supporters) but other than that I couldn’t fault it.