Alcohol and running: Discuss.
That seems to be a good enough starting point. There are numerous races that link our love of running and our love of alcohol. The two have gone hand in hand for me over the years. We have boozy meet ups before and after races, there are booze themed Virtual Medals such as my Oktoberfest bottle opener and the recent Prosecco 5K bling, and some races, and you need to look for them, even allow you to drink on the route. And it is not like these races are rarities, or oddities, some are actually very mainstream and sell out in hours. The Marathon du Medoc is probably the most famous, plying the “athletes” with libations as they zigzag their way through a French winery. I am yet to enter that one, but I have completed its British cousin, the Bacchus Marathon and Half Marathon weekend where teams of unicorns and power rangers and Wally’s and nuns and Spartans, bunches of grapes, Mario Brothers, you name it, I have seen it running the Denbies Wine estate in Dorking, twice (with Jen Morris, Whiffenpuff, Mike, Jas Randall, Big Carl, Jo F-W and Jules, Sarah, Ciara, Melissa, Melissa and many, many more).
More along the beer run idea is the Beat the Boat 10K, a great little run in Windsor by the river, in the shadow of the castle where you run to beat 3 boats back to the start, whilst drinking beer and prosecco at 3 checkpoints. The race HQ is a pub. In your goody bag is a beer voucher for said pub. All in all it was a beery day. I ran that with Lewis Clarke post Comrades and it was a winner. The medal and tee was superb. And so this brings me to my next race, the Craft Half.
I was minding my own business, completing a 2000 piece Star Wars themed jigsaw puzzle left over from Christmas (that would end up having a piece missing), wiping out zombies on Dead Island Rip Tide, when I asked Lou McWilliams if she had any more races before we headed to Transgrancanaria. I did not. The race was 5 weeks away and other than training I was happy to stay race free. I was also only running the marathon whilst Lou was running the, as yet unmeasured, 360 degree race. The race below the 360 is 145KM, so it has to be significantly more than that. But anyway, I digress. Lou said that she did and I had a sudden pang of guilt. I should probably spend more time racing and more time on trail before my two big races of the year, TGC and Green Man Ultra 45 a week later. Straight onto RunnersWorld Events and boom! An inaugural half marathon on the muddy trails of Wimbledon common 3 weeks before TGC. TICK. Still open for entry. TICK. £25. Grumble grumble. Raise money if you want to for Street Child. Not after last year. A half pint of craft beer every 2 miles, totalling 3 pints over the course. HIC! And so I was (and you know what is coming, Hoff fans)…
And what is a drunkard half marathon without friends? So I put it out there. Half of the Katzenjammers completely ignored my advice but loved my review and were signed up for Portland Coastal Marathon.
Baz, Kaya, Paul, Spence and others would be at Watford Half. Jen would be fulfilling a recent dream, after being a Snowman and a Penguin at the Cancer Research Winter 10K in London she would be a Polar Bear. But Lewis Clarke (boozy brother), Whiffers and Melissa would join. Yay! Beer wench, bring us a beer!
THE ROUTE and the HISTORY
Going back a few years, I think it was 2014, maybe 2015, I was signed up for a Wimbledon Common Transcendence 10K in the summer. The journey was a nightmare. Tube failed me. I ended up getting the overground to Wimbledon Village and then taking the longest walk before realising I was in the wooded paths of the common, with no idea where the race HQ was and was running out of time. South of the river for me, is a little like Escape from New York. You need to be Snake Pliskin to get out alive.
At the time of the scheduled start I found the 7KM sign, gave up, somehow made my way to the main road and found out I was in Putney. As an aside, this time a cable issue at Clapham Junction meant a 20 minute delay in trains for me and Lew, a confusing bus ride, and a pricey cab back to Waterloo to save us the ballache. And so, getting back on track, I have never run in Wimbledon, despite the great peeps at RunThrough organising a half there, with the unique feature (until now) of Womble high fives.
The route itself was a bit of a mystery to me. It started at the home of the UKs oldest running club, the famous Thames Hare and Hounds. You would leave the relative comfort of the sports fields, across a muddy bridge, then turn right into the common. You were predominantly on stone paths that hid under several inches of slushy mud. Early doors there were a few puddles that stopped everyone in their tracks and a few lumpy, muddy hills that we took at a canter.
The mud was heavy and weighed your shoes down. The KM and Mile markers were WAYYYYYYYY off, so much so that with Lewis measuring miles and me KMs, neither were ever close to being correct. What was correct though, was the beer tables. Spot on 2 miles, 4 and 6 miles. So at least something was right.
You were running through muddy trails, woods either side for the most part, road for a little bit, a windmill, a golf course, 2 wombles. We did say that it would be lovely to do in the summer. It just wasn’t summer. It wasn’t summer at all.
HOW WE DID
I think the first couple of muddy hills made my mind up. Back at the bag drop I was asked “10K or half?” I didn’t know there was a 10K option but now, as mud and hills wore me down I was already thinking, “let’s put it to the vote halfway.” Lewis was up for this, as was Whiffers as we reached what would be the first of 3 beer stops.
There were four beers on show, you could try them all a couple of times on the two laps but I was already one step ahead, and was ok with trying 3 on the course and one at the 10K finish. With Melissa a fast paced Canadian, and loving the mud in her Bacchus unicorn leggings, heading off first Lew and I would get up a head of steam, and then slow for Whiffers as we went through the common, got confused with the mile and KM markers, and then came upon the second beer stop, and Melissa.
And then Mel was gone again, and I had chance to sell, not that it took much selling, the others on the idea of bailing at 10K. Not that it is something I have ever done before, but this was not my idea of fun, even as I reached the 3rd and final beer stop.
And it was just along from the 3rd stop that we heard the music coming from the live band in the changing/bag drop/goody bag tent and turned left across the muddy bridge, seeing the finish and running as a team to it. We had some posed photos taken, grabbed our bags, and grabbed our goody bags before changing.
There is no medal. I asked the guy at the goody bag area where the medals were. “Yo, where dem medals at?” He said. They didn’t make them. Simple as that. Which pisses me off as I feel I had a hand in convincing the others to join me, and given this…
My thoughts on Street Child are…
The goody bag, and I am willing to sue them for mislabeling it, was not a goody bag, it was a crap bag, bereft of goodies. It contained a muesli bar, a pint glass, and a leaflet on the charity, asking you to sign up for other events. No fucking chance. I have run many charity events over the years, and this was solely made good by the beer and the awesome Lewis, Whiffers and Melissa, who was crazy/drunk/sick/Canadian enough to go out for the second lap.
I am truly disappointed in the organisation of this race. The lack of reward seems to belie the effort everyone put in not only in the running, but also getting to the arse end of nowhere on the way to Kingston. For a charity that spammed us with emails since we signed up, their lack of courtesy re the bling has made me add them to my shit list. The concept was great though, the beer was infinitely drinkable, even the one referencing Arsenal to Lew’s disgust. The course was too tough and in too poor a state to fully enjoy it, although the website does mention that you should “prepare for mud”. I love running with Lew, and Whiffers too. They will make the best of a bad situation, and we all were glad we went, despite the disappointing end where we looked at the shitty goody bag, got changed, got a cab and went home.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE STREET CHILD CRAFT HALF? No. Not without a medal and a summer date.
WOULD I RUN THE STREET CHILD CRAFT HALF AGAIN? No
NEXT UP: A Guaranteed Medal and
Goody Bag at the SVN Gothic Challenge
Yup, I signed up for another marathon before TGC to get me better prepped.