When the Green Leek run (10K) was described to me it appeared that the start of the race, the first half, was nicely downhill along a disused railway (a greenway), then it would transform itself into a brutal hilly and muddy trail race. Now the muddy thing I have no issue with because for the last week or so, it’s been chucking it down and the forecast for the day has been doggedly rainy. From last week’s St Aidan’s Half I am well used to muddy and as far as brutal trail races, bring em on!
The route is not one where you return to the same place you start, but instead the organisers lay on a bus from the car park at the finish to the start (where parking is limited). But oh noooo, for us, we had a better idea; leave a car at the finish and then drive to the start to park up. When we finally arrived at the start (after leaving a car at the finish), there was a helpful sign to the car park so we followed it. The sign led into a field and it was then that we realised this was a mistake, a big mistake, huge! This so-called “car park” was as I mentioned, a field. The thing is, after a fortnight of rain, there is a different name they use for a field and that name is: mud bath! It was soon apparent that most of the cars in the field weren’t going anywhere any time soon and so the drivers (including us) decided just to leave them there and make our way to the start of the race. The race officials kindly reassured us that after the event there would be help to get our cars out!
As for the race itself, rain was definitely the theme at the start down the greenway and everyone was really glad to get started. As it “said on the tin”, the first couple of miles were nicely downhill on a good path. But because I am still trying to shake a cold, I really didn’t feel too good and today I really didn’t have much energy. I made up my mind early on just to plod on and get to the finish in one piece. Meanwhile, my wife Helen was off like a rocket.
At the end of the greenway, I was very glad that the promised mega hills never materialised. Maybe it was my misunderstanding but this was NOT a hilly race. The final 5K was difficult terrain though, particularly due to the mud. We had a disturbingly bouncy bridge, woodland paths, fields with grass and fields without grass (nice).
I was very glad to reach the end of the 6.5 Mile route (definitely more than 10K at the admission of the organisers) in a smidge over an hour. There was a nice medal, lots of cake, and a welcome from running legend David Moorcroft who had given up his time to help out.
Now for the fun bit, we had to get back to pick up the Nissan Leaf, now being gradually consumed into the earth from which it originally came! Arriving back at the field it was still there (and thankfully just above ground), lots of activity with runners helping each other free their cars but of race officials, there was no sign. In fact there was no one from the race left at the village where it started because they had all gone to the finish, where the action was. Mark (one of our number who owned the Leaf), was not a happy bunny at all and Helen managed to get spattered with mud but eventually we got the car out.
Reflecting on the run, I initially was disappointed that I couldn’t do better but as a 58-year-old, I can do a tough trail 10K in an hour so I ought not to complain. We will probably choose a different race this time next year but, as a positive we can take away, David Moorcroft was brilliant and such a nice man. It is sobering to think that at the peak of his career, he held the world 5000m record meaning that once, he ran the fastest 5K that ever had been ran before!
“From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.” Proverbs 12:14