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A Sunday of DIY, or a nice 30 miler?

by Editor
Monday 9th November 2015
Tags  Stort 30   |   Pip Haylett   |   Challenge Running

Race report: After a road marathhon Pip Haylet returns the trails to 'rest' his knees at the Stort 30 - October 25, 2015

Some races you plan for ages, some you are lucky enough to be able to enter last minute, or on the day.  So when my friend James said he was running at the weekend, and could offer me a lift to Bishop Stortford on Sunday morning, I was tempted.  As soon as I found out I had a family pass it was an obvious choice.  A Sunday of DIY, or a nice 30 miles?

After the standard issue with morning alarms associated with any change of clocks, I left my house early, but still later than planned, and feeling a bit jet lagged by them putting the clocks back.   As it turned out, it was a beautiful morning, and the sun rise as James drove around the M25 and into Hereford was quite glorious. 

Race HQ, a cricket pavilion on the outskirts of Bishop Stortford was bustling with runners, but everything seemed remarkably calm and well organized – no queue for the toilets, in fact no queues anywhere.  As we ambled out on to the sports field just before the start, there was a fabulous array of runners, from Craig Holgate (vest, short shorts, waist belt with some water bottles) to first timers (very dressed up, with surely more kit than they needed), with James and I somewhere in the middle.

Pip Haylet reports from the Stort 30 - October 25, 2015

Photo: James at the finish.  No timing chips here, just a man in a field with a watch, paper and a pen.  Perfect.

The course is a lovely out and back along the river - or the canal, I couldn’t work it out. There is a very short section of pavement to get from the sports ground to the waterside path, which is a muddy trail for the first eight miles, but then a hard packed gravel path for the remaining seven miles to the turn around point. 

It was a beautiful morning, and the running was good.  I had run a PB in a road marathon (still not sure why I entered a road marathon) last weekend, so I was trying to nurse my battered knees around the course.  As always, there were some lovey people running; a man in luna sandals, a woman who had flown from Jersey to run an ultra on her birthday; two ladies who I followed the whole way around, who were chatting away, making it look very easy, and a guy who had also done a road marathon the weekend before, also worried about the state of his knees.

I managed to get to about 13 miles before Craig and the other leaders came flying past me on the way back, and this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to Mr Holgate in a race.   Another two miles to the turn around point and third aid station, and things were feeling good.  I was determined to run better splits than my marathon, where I had a good 20, and a terrible last 6, but needless to say, miles 21 – 25 were difficult and hurt a lot.

Things did get a bit easier for me though, and I was able to find a bit of my earlier pace and pick it up for the last five miles. That said, the lap of the sports field at the end seemed to go on for ages, and I’m sure it was bigger than when I’d seen it last.

The Stort 30 is a lovely, well-organized and very friendly event.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was lovely to be back on trails and with ultra runners rather than on roads with crowds of people.  Definitely one I’d do again next year.

Find out more about the Stort 30 and other events from Challenge Running here: www.challenge-running.co.uk/stort30/


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