Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Seagrave Challenge 2013 - "I've never refused a buxom wench"

The Six Dales Circuit filled up fast and we missed the close of entries. We needed to find an alternative. Grantham runner Matthew Kingston-Lee skilfully found the Seagrave Challenge, he went on to skilfully run it, coming home 10th in a large field of over runners. This event, just shy of 16 miles, was started by a Town Crier who kept telling us he had never refused a buxom wench. Lucky for us he didn’t refuse a photo opportunity and, along with three other Grantham Running Club members we stood proudly either side of him before the start.
A fine event.

The Seagrave Challenge was a popular event, approximately 520 runners lined up ready to take on the 16 mile circular route around the Leicestershire Countryside. The terrain reminded me of the Round Rotherham only 40 or so miles further south of the country, and over a route that was some 40 or so miles shorter. There were endless ploughed fields that were made more difficult by the recent rain. Even those with studs had difficulty keeping upright. The postevent race report describes at least two people being hospitalised as a result of falls. I witnessed some runners running in Walsh fell shoes and despite the two miles of canal tow path and occasional road sections, Walshes would have been a good choice.
The race seemed to begin at a fast pace. I decided to hold back, safe in the knowledge that the 'enthusiastic' runners ahead would suffer later and come back to me. I had glanced at a route map before the start and noticed the canal tow path section would be run after about 11 miles. My strategy was to run steadily to the tow path and then kick on to the finish. I hoped to use my road fitness on the tow path and overtake the 'enthusiastic' folk in front who by then should be coming back to me.      
The famous five.
When the canal path arrived I was still languishing well down the field. As planned – I decided to get my head down and motor on. I made a pact with myself not to let up the speed until I left the canal path some two miles later. Just as I got into a rhythm the feed station arrived. I broke my promise and stopped to eat cake and drink water. From there I pushed on overtaking plenty of people as planned.
Somewhere just before the canal about 10 people in front came running back towards me through a tunnel that I was about to enter. It seemed that we had gone wrong. I needed a whizz so I retired to the bushes to let the others debate the route and the general consensus heard whilst watering the overgrowth, seemed to be that the route through the tunnel was actually the right way and so all of us now relived, journeyed on.
After leaving the canal there was about 3 miles left to run. I was grateful for that. There was no sight of fellow club member Ben Hatherley in front and as it had taken at least 6 miles to overtake Ben Mason I knew he wasn’t far behind. It was time to dig deep. The final few miles included a herd of cows parted down the middle with the farmer holding them back and a bit further on, a couple of eerie shire horses looking at me in pity. After successfully negotiating the curious cows Ben Mason unsuccessfully electrocuted himself on the fence as he left the field.

The going was soft.

I arrived back in Seagrave in 2 hours 11 minutes. Ben Hatherley was far ahead in 2:01:58 and Ben Mason wasn’t far behind in 2:15:38 the remaining member of the clan, Matthew Kingston-Lee showed blitzed the course in 1:47:51 coming home 10th on unprefered terrain. A fine result with the going so soft.
All that was left was to eat soup and crumble and drink plenty of tea before heading back to Grantham to undo all the good work with a celebratory night on the town.