Upon arrival on an overcast but mild December day, marshals directed us to park at Ocknell Campsite. Even though it was so very tempting to park near start / finish in other spots but majority-followed guidance. Quite important to do so to carry on working with the forest requirements to keep these events going.
To add to our race we had a decent warm up walk / jog before the race. With just over a mile to the race village area from Ocknell Campsite. I love arriving to these events – with different colours, flags and you can see our distinct group of royal blue hoodies and the blue/yellow bubble hats. Luckily, the start/finish area was right by race village so that was a plus.
Most knew in advance this was a longer route for a CC6 than normal, advertised as approx. 9km (5.6 miles) and was pretty spot on. CC6 events tend to usually only cover between 4- 5 miles long so quite a unique one. Could hear from most chatter from various runners at start – “remember pace yourself”, “keep some back”.
As a club, we do train on these trail hills in summer occasionally and regularly on social runs & marshalling our old RR10 course there. So most of us had an indication of whereabouts going to head and the hills involved, dare I say we had an advantage?! The main surprise was the two loops once in the Kings Garn Gutter enclosure. Those of you that done the virtual RR10 of this from Neil White last year it was just the one loop plus the main drag down and up from pond, which was tough in its own right.
My favourite part of the morning was watching Mike Mills going through the warm-up drills with Sophie Coady before the start. At 9:30am we all lined up ready for the start with big yellow frames high above the trail walkway, ideal for a start line even though not their actual purpose.
The race started quite promptly, and if you were like me went out quite fast and was hard not to with the downhill and getting carried away with the field. Halfway down the hill towards the enclosure greeted by Santa playing Tuba & would see again twice during the laps. When near bottom there was a solitary big muddy puddle between the gates, how I crave the mud from these races! It then proceeded to go around the enclosure in a clockwise direction, more ups to get to the top of hill with a bit of rest-bite to go back down, until hitting the 2nd lap again. Did anyone else find the 2nd lap going up-hill tougher than the 1st?
Great festive support with various Lordshill & Wessex Road volunteers in Christmas attire marshalling giving encouragement around course. I recall a marshal saying ‘last home straight’ just before the hill of doom back to start/finish line, did make me chuckle. After what seemed like eternity getting up the hill of doom, noticed the lovely Totton lot on last corner who came out to support. Pete, Kirsty, Caroline & Emily with Harry the dog (of course). With Kirsty bellowing out to mainly Totton Runners to sprint to the line. Certainly helped in my case as am sure did to others.
Upon finishing, the ever-dependable Lyndsay was there to collect and take numbers down. Must have heard the word ‘tough’ a lot. There was plentiful delicious cake on offer at end. At one point, a flying gazebo went over the fence into enclosure due to wind, luckily no cake or runners was hurt. Thanks to Lyn Hatchett in getting the pop up tent back into the bag, took a few of us to attempt and decipher, if not I could be still there today. There was plenty of time to reflect of the long hilly race for the mile walk back to the car.
Well done to the women’s team who continue to stay at the top of the table, impressive stuff! Men have interesting battles with various clubs and have a chance to climb. Next up is Holmsley Inclosure on 9th January, near enough to Wilverley those who have done Brockenhurst parkrun.