Tales of a slow fell runner!
I had been nervously excited for ages about this race. This was the second time of doing it and last year I had been petrified about what nonsense I had let myself in for. I had visions of not being able to complete it, falling over and getting lost but luckily Carla, Lisa and Harriet had pep talked me and it was an amazing experience. I loved it so much in fact that there I was last Saturday back for more.
I knew this year that I'd have to take it easy, my lungs still aren't a hundred percent from having whooping cough last year and hills and poorly lungs are not the best combination. Allie and I had decided to run it together or run/walk it, as I had promised Allie when she said she might consider it!
As soon as you arrive at race HQ the feeling of camaraderie is so evident. People are united in the fact that they're about to experience a really, different, challenging and exhilarating run. Even the walk to the start was full of excited chatter, smiles and the occasional daunted look as people gazed to the top of the hill we were about to attempt to ascend.
Starting off at the back meant there was no pressure from the start. Being a shorter person the steps you go up to start with are a challenge. A lot of leaning on the tops of my legs were involved to get myself up to the next one. The start is amazing, it does get you straight into the more challenging aspect of fell running and for a first timer is very daunting but once you've done that bit, to me anyway, the rest seems so much more achievable.
Once we reached the first summit you turn round and head down a steep grassy hill, this year it was particularly amazing as not only were you running down it fast, it was so covered in mist you couldn't see exactly where your end destination was! From that point on I was just thrown into the zone, the reason why I love this race, the feeling of being away from it all and being totally at one with your surroundings.
Off we went along a grassy trail, following by now, trainer churned paths up a gradual hill. One of my favourite parts was turning to go down a mud filled narrow path and realising once you'd started the descent the easiest thing was to just go with it, at this point Allie was behind me but was going quicker than I was, luckily we had taken two slightly different angles so she managed to slide on past me without the two of us colliding and falling into sticky mud!
Running at a slightly slower pace meant we chatted all the way round, we turned back to admire where we'd come from and occasionally we would venture to look straight on to see what we had to come. In short, I enjoyed every minute.
My favourite parts are going downhill, I loved the running down muddy grassy paths, Stoney sections and best of all the wooden step divides on muddy paths. Again my short legs meant I had to jump down most of them but that just added to the enjoyment.
Many people think fell racing is only for the fast, athletic best runners. If I could say one thing it's that this race is for absolutely everyone. As Jen Watts ( first in her age category) informed me, even she walked bits....so it is ok to walk! I can not recommend this experience enough, it remains my favourite ever race. The buzz I get from getting away from it all, running in almost complete isolation and achieving something like this is amazing. I can not recommend Box Hill Fell Race for anyone enough.