This weekend was the first race of the calendar year and it has been a long time since the Gut Buster on my birthday, 6 weeks in fact, with only a short run on the treadmill to show for a training regime that is somehwat lacking in effort. But what a good place to start, the 10th anniversary run of the Longleat 10K a race famed for it’s lions head medals.
Lush! The medals are well renown in the UK running community and everyone knows the Lions head and where it comes from. So, naturally, I thought, the anniversary medal would be stupendous.
Way in advance, as I plan to do for all of 2014, I booked an inn/hotel via booking.com and the train tickets in advance via Trainline. The wonderful inn I found is called The George.If you are racing in Longleat, I highly recommend it.
I will say that, although both Longleat and The George are supposedly in Warminster, neither are. The George is 3 miles south of Warminster through smaller Hobbit sounding villages in a place call Longbridge Deverill, Mr Frodo and I needed to cab it there. Longleat is a further 5 miles away through winding country lanes and there is no hope at all of getting there by foot. And a taxi, time and half according to the cab company rep I met at the station, would be £20 each way plus tip.
In the end, and through some good fortune, I met up with a local the night before, got chatting about running etc the stalwart chap drove me in both directions for the price of a couple of pints and lunch.
And so to the race.
The route took you from the top of the hill facing the wonderful Longleat House for the first kilometer before it wall went pear shaped as you wound you way back and up country lanes. And by up I really mean up. People had to walk from pretty early on and one girl was already being ferried to a car suffering from exhaustion by the marshals at the 6K mark.
Something that did annoy me was that there was a 2 mile race for kids that took part at the same time, on the same route. So the start was an utter clusterfuck where kids, bless their little cotton socks, sprinted left and right in front of you and chubby mums called their names out. Not a fan of this, and there was even a few strollers.
You climb and climb but sooner rather than later you turn back on yourself and start downhill. You go through the start again and back down, but then the route changes and you circumnavigate the safari park before running back through an archway by the house and up to the start.
A wonderful touch was, as we all ran back by the house, Lord Bath cheered us all on.
How did I do?
It was a slow run but I finished strongly and even ran back to get the lift from the local. I was and am incredibly disappointed by the medal, it is not up to scratch if the annual medals are better than the anniversary medal. But I guess that is 2:09 Events.
I do love my mini runcations, I get to run all over the world and spend time in places I wouldn’t ordinarily see. In the UK this involves a train ride of a couple of hours, a hotel or B&B, and enjoying the locals. I did, of course, decide to run the race in the weekend when the UK suffered from it’s worst flooding for 250 years.
The three lines in the area of Wiltshire/Somerset/Devon I was in are shown below. And in the end I had to get a Cardiff bound train as far as Bath and then catch a London train to get back. It did, however, make the adventure even the more worthwhile and I feel I thoroughly deserved the medal, regardless of how disappointing it is.
Would I run it again?
I may well do. I would chose the hotel directly opposite the entrance to the Longleat estate though as that would save me a lot of hassle as the driver took a roundabout scenic route that got me to Longleat 5 minutes before the start, still in tracksuit and still to drop off bag
Obligatory race photo to follow.