The final RR10 of the season was organised by Eastleigh running club. The original plan had been to hold it at Marwell, just like last year, but there was an issue with the venue and it ended up being postponed. In the end tonight’s race was held at a completely new venue, the University Sports Ground on Wide Lane. This is a place I’ve walked past many, many times, on my way to Winchester, Eastleigh, or just Lakeside which is actually the next set of fields along the road. Because it’s not open to the public though, I’ve never been inside. Continue reading The last RR10
After a day spent painting my living room ceiling while the rain teemed down outside I can’t say I was much looking forward to the RR10 at Itchen valley Country Park tonight. For one, I was tired. Painting ceilings is surprisingly hard work and this one looked as if it might still need another coat. On top of this I’d been struggling with a trapped nerve in my leg. Apparently this is due to my stupidly high arches, at least according to my GP it is. Who’d have thought having high arches could cause so much pain all of a sudden? There was a great temptation to stay at home, take some painkillers and go to bed, especially as it was still raining. Continue reading The rain continues at Itchen Valley
Tonight’s RR10 adventure was at Janesmoor Pond in the New Forest, although there was some slight confusion, at least on my part because I thought it was across the road at Stoney Cross. Luckily Commando knew where we were going and we managed to pull into the correct car park . The first job was erecting the tent. This proved slightly more difficult than expected. Continue reading Janesmoor Pond, more ups than downs
This month really does seem to be all about running. No sooner had we got the busy weekend of parkrun birthdays and 10k races over than it seemed we were off to yet another running event. This time it was the RR10 at Whiteley. There are pluses and minuses to this venue in my opinion. On the plus side is the Costa in the shopping centre by the car park. Tonight the lovely Tori and Teresa forced me to have one so I was happy walking along the narrow lane towards the start wth a coffee and in my hand.
Today began with a text message from Vodafone to say the new phone I ordered a month ago had finally been delivered to the shop. So the first job of the day was to make sure all the photos on my current phone were downloaded onto my iPad. The second was a three mile walk into town with no photo stops because, once I got the new phone, they’d all be erased. Well, that was what I thought anyway.
June began with another RR10 in the New Forest, this time at Blackfield Common. Commando swore he knew how to get there. Stupidly, I believed him. By now I should know better. Of course, we ended up driving round in circles with no idea where to go and even Google Maps couldn’t help because I couldn’t get a phone signal. It began to look as if this would be the RR10 we didn’t make it to. Continue reading All’s well that ends well at Blackfield Common
The second RR10 started out with all the makings of a complete disaster. For a start, the weather wasn’t playing ball. It had been raining on and off all day and it didn’t look like it was going to get better any time soon. Commando swore he knew where he was going when we set out but the further we went, the clearer it became this was not strictly true. The event was at Wilverley Imclosure between Brockenhurst and Sway. When I saw a sign for New Milton I was fairly sure we were lost but, having trusted Commando up until this point, I hadn’t bothered to check the map before we left. This turned out to be a mistake. Continue reading RR10 Wilverley, getting lost, rainbows, woods and sunsets
When Commando said he’d be running the RR10 at Stoney across tonight I had no idea what he was talking about.
“What’s an RR10?” I asked.
“A race,” he answered, rather unhelpfully I thought.
“I gathered that, but what does it mean?”
“Ah,” he looked a little sheepish. “I don’t actually know. It might mean road race but it isn’t on the road so maybe not. There are ten of them though, one every two weeks.”
I was none the wiser but, as long as no one expected me to run, I thought I might as well go along and take some photos. Maybe I’d be able to find out what it was when I got there.
The race was due to start at 7.15 so it was always going to be tight, time wise, for Commando as he had to go to work afterwards.
“I’ll probably have to leave you there and get one of the other runners to bring you home. There’s bound to be someone coming this way.”
Not exactly confidence inspiring but I guessed I could always walk back if I really had to. It was only thirteen miles after all. Mind you, in the dark it might not be all that much fun.
We got there early, unsure if we’d be able to find anywhere to park. A few of the Shetland ponies I’d seen on my last visit were wandering around as we headed for Janesmoor Pond. I wondered what they’d make of all the runners about to decend on their quiet corner of the New Forest. As it was we found a parking space straight away. None of the other runners had arrived so we stood around for a bit watching the sun slowly sinking over the New Forest. There were worse things we could have been doing.
After a bit a few people began to arrive and began putting up pop up tents and flags. Pretty soon the grassy area near Janesmoor Pond was rapidly filling up with running club tents, flags and runners. There was an air of expectation and building excitement. This would be the first RR10 for Commando but everyone seemed clear about the distance, four to five miles, and the course, cross country, probably muddy in places and some challenging hills. Wandering around taking to people I discovered this was one of a series of ten, fortnightly races all over Hampshire. Even so, no one I spoke to could tell me what the RR stood for. Perhaps I was asking the wrong people.
When someone suggested a warm up might be a good plan Commando jumped at the chance. By now any stray ponies had made themselves scarce. Instead runners streamed off onto the empty field and went galloping round in circles. I particularly liked the bit where they all skipped like children in a playground and jumped high into the air swinging their arms. It looked like great fun and reminded me of some of the warm ups I’ve seen before football matches.
Pretty soon people began meandering towards the start finish line. The race was about to begin. When we set out I thought I might be able to have a little wander amongst the trees while Commando was running but I got caught up with the other spectators and the results collectors. Slowly I was discovering more about this RR10 business. It turned out this was not a normal race with timing chips. In fact no one was timing anyone, which was probably a good thing as Commando had forgotten his Garmin. Results would be based on finish position, with everyone picking up a token as they crossed the line. The sum of each club’s results would be the team score.
Once all the runners disappeared into the distance we stood around batting off midges and chatting. This was mostly certainly the easy option. When the first runners eventually began to appear it was clear it had been a very challenging course. They all looked shattered when they came in and there was some muttering about a hill at the end.
Due to a decided lack of height and an increasingly crowded finish line, it was hard to see what was going on. With so many hot, sweaty runners about the midges were having a field day but it did mean they were staying away from me in favour of fitter, juicier flesh.
With the sun turning the field to liquid gold the trickle of of runners turned to a flood, some gasping and dropping to their knees with the effort they’d put in, others looking at their race tokens with varying degrees of happiness or disappointment. The results collectors, with their clipboards, had a job to keep up for a while.
Amongst them was Commando. He’d crossed the finish line without me even noticing and was hot and slightly out of breath but fairly happy with his place. As more and more people finished and the crowds began to thin a little, we all made our way to the side of the course a hundred yards or so from the finish and shouted encouragement to runners tired from the punishing final hill. Final spurts of speed were put on, energy dragged from the depths, positions were gained and lost in the last few yards. Legs and voices struggled.
All too soon Commando was looking at his phone. It was time for him to go if he didn’t want to be late for work. Hastily, a lift was arranged with some kindly runner friends so walking home was avoided. Then he walked off into the sunset with a wave and left me to my cheering.
The rest of us stayed to cheer the very last runner in. When it was all over we meandered back to the car park admiring the sunset over Stoney Cross. Finally the ponies could have their peacefully corner of the New Forest back. I can’t help wondering what they made of the strange human invasion? Oh, and I still don’t know what the RR stands for!