November – Bedgebury Pinetum Half Marathon

Half marathon number 11 is now done and dusted – here’s how it went……….

I’ve always enjoyed running at Bedgebury – mainly in the forest on the cycle trails – well drained forest roads and trails. Sometimes a bit stoney and rutted – and definitely hilly – but lovely running. Julie and I had done a recce a couple of weeks before – and the conditions were lovely – comfortable running even in road shoes. We met Jo – one of the employees at Bedgebury – who talked us through the route and was interested to hear about Gill’s and my 12 in 12 challenge. She kindly took our details and put a post on the Pinetum FB page to let people know that we are collecting PANTS for “Smalls for All” as a celebration of our 12 races. The charity collects new pants for women and children living in Africa in orphanages, slums and IDP camps – or in hospitals. They can make a difference between a girl accessing education or not and so finding a way out of poverty. I, for one, take access to clean underwear for granted and can’t begin to image what life must be like – so I hope that our 12 in 12 challenge can make a small difference!

So I was looking forward to the first running of the Bedgebury half marathon and 10k – with just 500 runners in total – a small, friendly race. On the Friday before the race emails came round from Nice Work (race managers) recommending the wearing of trail shoes given three patches of muddy ground (3, 8 and 10 miles) – “we recommend approaching the areas with caution and keeping to the left and you should be okay! No rain is forecast so conditions shouldn’t deteriorate…….” That was on Friday…….. On Saturday it rained. A lot. All day in fact! So the decision was made – trail shoes it is!

Sunday morning is cold – but dry – and Gill and I leave Heathfield at 7.45am for the 9am start. Julie is there just ahead of us and we meet Dave and Tony from HRR – also running and destined for good times. Paulette has come along and plans to run with Gill. There are plenty of puddles in the car park and the ground is covered in frost – but it is a lovely sunny day. The walk to the start is through long, frosty grass and it is soft underfoot. We start on time and the first few hundred yards are quite soft and slippery so the shoe decision is well made. And before long we are on the Pinetum paths and the forest trails – less slippery but cobbled and hilly. It is a small field so its not crowded and everyone is friendly. There is a Marshall at the first muddy patch – warning us to take care – but there is no need really as it would be reckless to do anything else. We walk, jog and hop through the mud until we are back on the tracks. Gill and Paulette are just ahead of Julie and I and they are proceeding with caution too.

At 6 miles those running the 10k peel off and head for the finish. There are just a few of us running now as we head out on a second, slightly longer lap – that has a further patch of mud……….. But is is a lovely race – there will be no PBs today so we just take our time and walk/hop when we have to. The weather is perfect – very cold – I never take off my long sleeves – but bright and sunny – just delightful! And even better – the course measures slightly short by my calculations – so we finish slightly sooner that I thought. Dave and Tony have both waited (quite a long time as it turns out) to cheer us home – thank you boys – and well done on your times – don’t know how you did them through those conditions!! Gill and Paulette are smiling – they have enjoyed it too! Nice medals – shaped like pine cones (how appropriate) – overall one of the best and most fun of the races so far………..

So there is just one race left. I must confess to feeling rather sad at that. It has been a great experience. The next one will be another virtual half marathon as there are so few organised races in December. It will be Christmas themed and we hope that a few people will come along and join us!

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