It's April, which means the clocks have gone forwards, my skiing kit has been packed away until next winter (boo), and I can slowly drag myself out of semi-hibernation.
This year I've set myself the challenge of getting the Strava 10k run badge each month. So far so good - four down, eight to go! April's was also my first race of the year - the Kymin Dash.
Having grown up in Monmouth, I know the Kymin pretty well. We used to walk up it quite often with Scouts, including in the dark, and I still look out for the white tower if I'm driving back from Wales along the A40.
That said, it's about 4 years since I last walked up there, and I remember the footpath (Wysis Way/Offa's Dyke) being rather steep and leaving me out of breath. So running up it? Yeah, that'll be a great idea...
waiting to start
So many people in running club kit! I did feel a bit out of place as a non-club runner, and I think this is probably also why I had a recycled Gloucester marathon number/chip instead of the ankle tags that most others had.
I started near the back as I knew I wasn't going to be sprinting the 2km of uphill! Instead I did a mixture of slow jog and power walk, which seemed to be a popular technique. The road isn't as steep as the footpath, so it wasn't actually as bad as I was expecting. Along the way they'd put out plenty of motivational signs - "it's only a hill" etc, and I was very pleased to reach the top and the first water station - complete with jelly babies!! I ran carrying my soft flask because that's easier to deal with than paper cups.
Once the hill was out of the way I was able to speed up a bit and, as the paths widened and the crowd thinned out, even did some overtaking. I did have to stop and wait at the road crossing, which lost me about 3 minutes but isn't exactly the end of the world.
When we entered Highmeadow Woods we were greeted with a lovely muddy bog, which gave me flashbacks to doing Forest Warriors a few years back. *shudder*. There was also a downhill section that was reasonable muddy and narrow, but apart from those bits (and the walk to the start line!) the course was all tarmac and hard forest roads. I'm still pleased I didn't wear my shiny new shoes though, haha
A rare photo where I am actually sort of smiling - and overtaking the lady on the left! Photo by Rod, from facebook.
There weren't medals (unless you actually won, of course) but I do now have a lovely purple technical tshirt. We were also handed a Wild Trail bar at the finish line, but that's long gone as it was rather tasty On Strava here.
Would I do it again? yes. Next up - Forest of Dean 10k in May.