New Year’s Day 2014 at Top Barn, Holt Heath
About 150 runners competed in this race, many coming from Birmingham & Worcester clubs, but also from as far afield as Milford Haven.
We were glad to be able to assemble indoors before the start while watching the finish of the Junior 2 mile race. Full credit & appreciation to Mark Leyland of Dirt Run for once again providing an opportunity for young athletes to perform, something I would like to see more of….. Although the appalling conditions obviously deterred many Juniors (less than half the 50 pre-entries made the start line), the rich rewards for those who did turn up & run was evident in the rosy cheeks & smiling faces of the youngsters as they hugged their parents, tired wet but happy.
The main race began in the steady rain & 20 mph winds by skirting the lake before dropping down onto flat farm tracks. At about a mile, we caught a glimpse of a magnificent view of the Severn in full spate before turning right into the woodlands. Jasper was right on my heels as the meandering trail went up and down several short sharp hills. I expected him to surge past at any moment, but my feet were on fire that day, & I climbed with unexpected ease. Just after 2 miles we encountered a stile, but since the field was spread out by now, it didn’t hold people up. The next mile was along a straight farm track into the teeth of a fierce headwind. I dug deep & put a little distance between myself and Jasper. The course undulated across lush meadows for the next mile before a short tarmac section led us to more fields. The second woodland section was followed by more farm tracks leading back to the Lake, which we went round in the opposite direction to finish at the Barn.
I was exceptionally pleased with my performance, finishing 13th in 48 min 26 sec, also winning the over-50 category AND (for the first time ever) beating Jasper. He came in 20th in 53.30, a great result. He would have been 30-40 seconds quicker but was in a small group of runners who went the wrong way, following a sign clearly marked “Junior race”. I ran back down the course, yelling & screaming like a banshee until everyone was back on the right track.
I couldn’t have been any wetter unless I jumped in the lake, so the warm showers were extremely welcome. Jasper & I sipped hot herbal tea while waiting for the last finishers before prize-giving. Once again, Dirt Run’s sponsors were very generous, giving prizes for the first three in each category (SM, SF, V40, V50 M & F) & apart from the T-shirt, medal and a trophy, I walked away with an armful of prizes, including a couple of bottles of beer.
The race was well organised & marshalled. There were markers at each mile and water stations at 2 1/2 & 5 miles, though I doubt they were used much. The course was mainly flat & fairly fast and the sandy nature of the soil meant that the mud didn’t cling like on some Herefordshire courses. The excellent facilities were really appreciated all round, especially in this sort of weather. Thank you Dirt Run!