Where I live is flat. Very flat!
A cursory glance at my Strava stats shows that in November I climbed a total of 300m. About 40% of this coming in the St Neots half marathon alone, which hits some of the few hills in the area. So why I decided to enter a race that climbs over 230m is beyond me!
Next year I have a marathon double header. My training plan calls for a half about 6 weeks before the main race so I have been having a look at options. Having done a couple of Racebest events I thought I’d have a look at their calendar as part of my research. Most their events are in Yorkshire which, with family in the area, is always a possibility.
On this occasion I didn’t find any races for next year but my eye was drawn by the Travellers 6. A 6 mile race in the next village over from where my in laws live, on a weekend we were definitely going to be up north, it looked perfect. I mentioned it to my brother in law to sow the seed. Then I looked at the climbing and started to have second thoughts!
However, when he said he’d like to do it, I decided to take on the challenge and for a very cheap entry fee, I was in. For added measure I also got my brother to sign up as he also lives nearby.
The day before saw sleet and snow in the air, not great conditions for racing. Fortunately though, race day came and the skies were clear. It was a bit chilly but conditions were almost perfect, now if only we could do something about those hills! Registration was easy and before we knew it, it was almost 11am and time for the race.
Only a couple of hundred metres into the race and we hit the first “warm up” hill. A simple enough rise but definitely a marker of things to come and sure enough, it was then time to start a section of over 2km of constant climbing. I was starting to question my reasons for doing this race.
Every time you were rewarded with a little bit of downhill, you were then heading straight back up another hill. However, I was pleased that I was still able to push on over the slopes. This was especially true in the mile just after halfway and the hill really kicked back in again. I’d read a blog from a previous edition and it had mentioned seeing people happy at the crossover as it was a downhill bit, not knowing what was still in store.
One thing that was starting to become apparent (and I have noticed when parkrunning in Yorkshire). I am relatively speaking better at ascending than descending. Up the hills I’d pass a few people, just to see them go flying past me on the downhill section again.
This did put me at a slight disadvantage on the last stretch back to Denby Dale as I saw a few people start to pull away but gives me something to work on. As we dropped into the village my eye was drawn to my watch for pretty much the 1st time. I had no planned times for the race, knowing how difficult it would be. However, I still wanted a “good” time so was pleased to cross in 48:32, just 3mins behind my brother.
There was enough time to grab our warm kit from the car before my brother in law came in too. We then headed in to survey the free food, although as we knew we had a full Sunday roast waiting back at the house, decided against it. It was a little strange leaving without any bling but then at this price I really don’t mind. It also reminded me if racing when I was in my late teens when a t-shirt alone was a rarity.
All in all I did enjoy the challenge and experience of this race. It was well run and the fact that is pushed outside normal comfort zones gave it that certain je ne sais quoi? My brother in law already said as we were walking away, “same again next year?”