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Beer and cheer at the Hampshire Hoppit

by Lisa Martin
Monday 19th June 2017
Having thoroughly enjoyed running in the Hoppit Half last year it had been a firm definite on this years list of entries.  What wasn't to love about a race around the magical world of Watership Down with the added bonus of beer at the finish line?!  The difference this year was attempting to double the distance and test out the full.  
As in 2016 the organisers were fabulous right from entering, through to the finish line, and beyond.  Clear email information and instructions were sent as needed and the Facebook page was a real strength providing a platform for entrants to ask questions and get advice from the organisers and fellow runners.  Even before race day the Hoppit team went above and beyond the call of duty by posting videos of the course, updates on entries, tips for running in the heat and much more.  
The course is an absolute delight with stunning scenery the whole way around and some perfect points for supporters to walk to and spectate from.  This certainly kept me going, having only just made it to the start line and being totally unprepared due to recent injury.  Because of the injury my highly untactical race plan was to run my slowest marathon ever and get the best value for the entry fee by enjoying the views and course for as long as possible, and it was definitely the best course to be doing that on.  It's certainly not an easy course, both the half and full marathon present challenges at times, this simply gives a greater sense of achievement at the end.  Despite not being easy it's completely runnable and a lot more of an adventure than a plain road marathon with much more beautiful views at the top of the hills.  
We were incredibly well looked after throughout the event, and for that I wish to thank all of the organisers and on the day helpers.  Right from arriving at the start with minimal wait time to register, plenty of toilets, refreshments and chance for a pre-race massage or to be taped up by an expert.  The organisers added in additional aid stations because of the heat, the marshals were all angels with some even offering 'unofficial' water and edible treats.  The sprinklers on course were perfectly timed and very appreciated, as were the ice pops halfway around.  Although most of us struggled with the heat everything possible was done to keep us comfortable and safe.  This was topped off with an amazing atmosphere the whole way around.  
Thanks to all of the finishing goodies we left the event feeling totally spoilt, the event was certainly great value for money as it included: good quality and good looking medals; an engraved pint glass (or a half pint glass for the half marathon) which you could fill with beer from a local brewery, this tasted amazing over ice and worked a treat for post race hydration; a cotton drawstring bag (nice touch to help reduce the plastic issue and as a memento) containing snacks and water; ice-cream; and even a decent (non-fluorescent for a change) colour t-shirt at a small extra cost.

Hoppit collage
Harwell Harriers enjoy a great day out (left) and the well-earned finisher's pint glass and medal

As a relatively new club (Harwell Harriers) we have already discussed adding the Hoppit to our club championship races in 2018 and are already looking forward to returning.  If you're not already on it, add yourself to the Hampshire Hoppit Facebook page so you don't miss entering this trailtastic event next year. 

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