Encouraged by rave reviews of last year’s inaugural event, large numbers of Elvet Striders descended on Coxhoe for this year’s 10k trail run. Of the 125 or so participants at least 20 were Striders (there would doubtless have been more had it not been for a little half marathon which I am told is rapidly approaching.)
It was a beautiful sunny morning and after my month-long break from training I was looking forward to running at a relatively leisurely pace and enjoying the scenery. After a slightly congested start, things soon opened up. The course really is attractive with plenty of variety including some lovely wooded sections. It’s mainly on old railway lines and quarry paths – there are three roads to cross but, like the course as a whole, these crossing points are well marshalled. Towards the middle of the race, we had to tackle quite a long, steep climb up through a plantation. This was exhausting in the heat, and it was a relief to see a sign reading ‘halfway point’ not long afterwards. The second half of the course seemed to be more downhill than up until just before the finish, where we faced a final killer hill. I had been warned about this, and managed to drag myself up it, knowing that the end must be close.
As I approached the finish, someone called out that I was first lady. This came as a great surprise: I have never even come close to winning a race before and had deliberately not been pushing myself in this one! But an even greater surprise lay in store: the massive and exceptionally heavy trophy presented to me at the prize-giving! There were prizes all round for team Striders, with Stephen Jackson as third man and Richard Hockin and Shelagh Barton as first V60s. Some great performances from others too, including Ashley Price-Sabate in her first 10k. A huge thanks to everyone who made this run happen, especially to Neil Sleeman and to the Strider marshals who provided Haribos and encouragement. All in all, this was a very memorable morning. I’ve never won a cup before and probably never will again, so I’ll cherish this one as a reminder of all that is unexpected, funny and lovely about running.