Saturday, 4 June 2016

Event Review : Cakeathon

I'm a big fan of running, a bigger and of bling and am almost convinced that I'm genetically wired so as to be incapable of refusing cake. So the perfect event for me was of course something called Cakeathon!

Organised by Saxons Vikings and Normans, Cakeathon is a time challenge event; participants have 6 hours in which to complete as many laps of the course as they wish. You only need to complete one to qualify as a finisher, making it ideal for all ability levels but giving scope for more serious runners to compete against themselves. On completion of each lap your lap card is punched and you decide whether to continue. If you've had enough you just ring the Bell of Doom to receive your medal and goody bag. SVN events are renowned for their bijou events, amazing goody bags and awesome medals. Seriously, I've never seen anything like them before, and this was no exception. In addition, as this is CAKE-athon after all, there was a substantial amount of cake on hand over and above the usual aid station.

Set in what used to be known as Foulmead Country Park in Deal, Kent, the lap on this occasion was 4.37 miles, so each loop burned around 400 calories. A modest sized bit of cake per lap! Participants were encouraged to bring their own cake creations. There were prizes for the best cakes of the day, in the categories of:
1) Best cake
2) Best cake featuring marzipan
3) Best marzipan creation
4) Best cookie/brownie
5) Best vegan cake/creation
Vegan Turkish Delight cake. My favourite!
I rocked up around 8:30 for the 9am start. It's a small event in terms of allowed numbers so there was no trouble collecting my number and working out what was going on. Race briefing was amusing and informative. Amongst the regular Joes we had people running their 50th, 99th, 100th and 200th marathons that day! We started a fraction after 9am. It all felt very chilled out and relaxed. The first lap felt like the longest as I wasn't really sure what to expect but I soon settled into things. Run a lap, get my card punched, pause for squash, cake and cheese straws, set off again.
The course was stunning and traffic free (although not public free) all on gravel surface with a few "slopes", which I chose to treat as hills (i.e. walking up them). There were lovely woods to run by, ponds, grasslands and wet lands. It was pretty windy in the middle section of the course and I deliberated for ages over whether to ditch the base layer. In the end I didn't. I wasn't uncomfortably hot and I cooled down quickly after each lap. I didn't spot an awful lot of wildlife other than birds but I did hear a cuckoo on every lap. Although for once, you could wear headphones on the course and I had mine with me, I didn't feel the need to plug in. I was kept distracted enough by the course and also by greeting other runners on the out and back part of the course. By far one of the friendliest races I've ever done, "well done" was the catchphrase of the day, and sincerely meant.
My parents arrived to support me as I came in from my second lap. It was a joy to see them and my end of lap routine now included a chat with them. In the 45 minutes or so I was out on the course they   have a cooked breakfast at the visitor centre, chatted with the event team and supped cups of tea. After a couple of laps they discovered a half way point they could as get to so I was greeted part way round as well.
Dad napping. Was I taking that long?
I'd set out with the intention of attempting 7 laps, and achieving ultra marathon distance but my hip flexor started to ached and after my 6th lap I decided I probably couldn't run another and wasn't prepared to walk so I rang the bell. Better to finish on a high and besides 6 laps was marathon distance and I was delighted with that. Five hours 22 minutes on the course (including stops). Not bad. I'd only managed a couple of slices of cake as I just couldn't face it after a while but I did leave with several pieces in a takeaway container!
My ankles pre-clean down
We retired to the visitor centre for tea, warmth and, in my case, a bit of a clean up. Pretty dusty out on the course! As well as cake I got a super special finishers medal, custom made and designed, not a generic one, plus a goody bag containing actual goodies, not a bunch of adverts. Best of all, nothing healthy! Chocolate, crisps, cola... that sort of thing. 
It was a really enjoyable day out. I talked to people who ran 10k, half marathons, full marathons and every thing in between (and over). I am already eying up other SVN events to do and my mum was so impressed by the medal she was actually moved to say she would do it next year (maybe just the one lap). Highly recommended.

Have you done an SVN event? How do you feel about lapped events or time challenges? 

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