Thursday, 1 August 2013

Event Review : Woodland 5

Last night I took part in what may have been my most local race to date. The Woodland 5 is organised by Finch Coasters running club, who are based near Wokingham, and consists of 5ish miles around the Crowthorne Woods (near Broadmoor) which were burnt a couple of year ago. This is literally 1.5 miles from my front door.
#Woodland5 July Results
Is that a Tough Mudder headband I see? Source:
As you know I like a little local midweek race and so I couldn't pass on the opportunity to take part. This is another series held in May, June and July. The entry fee is £7.50 for one race or £19 for all three which I see as excellent value. These are no frills races; you won't get a medal or souvenir (although there are prizes for fastest senior and veteran man and woman) but it is very well organised with plenty of parking, fantastic marshalls and results out within 24 hours. It's timed but manually rather than chip. The little girls walking over to each finisher and handing out cups of water to save us staggering to the water station after the finish were very sweet. I believe there's a limit of 300 places per race but only around 150 took part this month.

Oddly I didn't see any FinchCoasters vests but I did see plenty of Reading Road Runners, Sandhurst Joggers, Datchet Dashers and Bracknell Forest Runners. In fact I was in the minority NOT wearing a club vest, this is very much a race by clubs for clubs although I certainly didn't feel out of place, it is open to everyone, after all. I did wear my TNLAR shirt and got a shout out from one of the lady marshalls who had also taken part, which was really lovely.

I've nabbed the route map and elevation outline from the club website. As you can see it's sort of two laps. Starting at the far left of the line at the bottom we follow undulating woodland trail for two miles before being funnelled through a very narrow overgrow path and over a further half mile a hill. It looked more like a wall to me and you have to tackle this twice! I walked it but there were plenty who managed to keep running. I doff my cap to them. I actually enjoyed the laps because you don't pass the finish point, a nice mental trick.

As I've said the marshals were fantastic but so were the other runners. It was a very companionable race, and not just between fellow club runners. I played tag with a girl in black most of the way round, encouraging each other and just after the second time up The Hill when I was in danger of not getting started again I felt a light touch on my back and a gentleman encouraging me to keep going, which I duly did. There were lots of shouts of "well done" as people over took each other and hunting out of others at the finish to thank them for encouragement or to congratulate them on their performance.

I don't often run trail these days nor much in the way of hills but I was thrilled to cover the course in 53:38. There's that strength training paying off! I would certainly consider doing all 3 next year, especially if I'm in training.

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