29/12/2013

The Gut Buster…

Again I have reached the end of the year and have, despite deciding the Movember Mo Run 10K was my last race, have kept going. Whilst the last race at Southend was a bit of a disaster in terms of cramp, shin splints, organisation, cold and poor bling, I have a feeling this weekend’s event will ring the end of 2013 in style.

I tried to talk myself out of it too. But if I had bailed this would have been the 12th DNS (failure) of 2013. I could either fail a dozen times, or run. And if I ran it would be my 20th race of 2013, and my 30th in total. So…..

I am presently writing this at the Devere hotels Wokefield Park hotel and golf club in Mortimer, Berkshire and I am here to run the Gut Buster 10K/10miler just down the road.
Now Reading, for those who are reading this outside of the UK, is about 45 miles outside of London. So, when I booked the race (on my birthday no less!) I thought I could hop on a train from London to Reading and “job’s a good ‘un” as they say. WRONG! And of course it would be wrong.
When they say Reading they actually mean Mortimer. Mortimer is in the countryside outside of Reading. There is a train station, but there is no one on duty there and zero chance of getting a cab. Also, these are country lanes, and several miles of them too.So I had booked a night at the hotel (B&B rate for the race) and took a train to Reading and then got a cab here. Anything else would have been madness. The original plan of a tube from my house to Paddington and then a train to Reading and then a cab to Mortimer for the race on the morning of the race would have meant I would have needed to get up at about 6am on my birthday.I didn’t want that. This means I can get up at 8, have breakfast, let it settle, and then get the free shuttle bus put on by the race organisers (nice touch by the way) to the start and bag drop and bib collection.

The Gut Buster is a quite popular mid winter race. The Gut Buster 10 Mile race will take in a challenging mixture of country roads, footpaths and woods through the glorious scenery of south Berkshire. With a short climb in the first half a mile you’ll know you’re in a race straight away, then running through or around a ford (that some run through and others avoid) breaks things up nicely as you head up to the ancient Roman town of Calleva at halfway (the ford appears on the medal. Calleva is just a ruin you run around). From here the course rolls down and up again on road and trails all the way to the finish. You can see it on Map My Run here.


And there would be:

• Medal with an iTaB (worth £5) for every finisher
• Prizes

• Mulled Wine & Mince Pies at the finish line & other refreshments
The Race and how I did…


The race was great. It had so many things I had never experienced before in the prior 29 races completed since I took up this crazy yet rewarding hobby. I had stayed in a hotel before for a race (of course), but the organisation of a double decker bus to take us all to the race and bring us back was superb. I had never run a trail run. And by trail this involved running across a fallow field using the muddy worn path with the Winter sun low above the treeline, through wooded areas ducking under and jumping over branches, and slowing to zigzag through turnstiles. I had never run on icy country lanes, so icy people were sliding about. I could have at the Tunbridge Half, my first race of 2013, which was as bitterly cold but didn’t seem so icy.


The last hill was a killer. The ground was soft from the dozens who had finished ahead of me, and deep tractor tracks meant I turned my ankle over several times as I approached the finish line. But I did it, and to be honest I really enjoyed the race and the experience. It was great to meet up with @ChiltonDiva, I always like crossing paths with Twitter buddies, especially those that took part in the Runners Knees Virtual 10 Miler. 
And then hot mulled wine and mince pies and a nice bespoke medal adding to it, before the bus ride back to Wokefield Park.
Obligatory Race Photo…


 The bling!


Would I Run it again…

I highly recommend the event. Andy did a great job organising it and it is only going to get bigger and better. 500 places this time around in the 10K and 10Miler and hopefully more next year as they had to turn people down. Definitely a race to be part of if you can get in. Although I will never run through the ford.



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