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Killerton 10k - 4 May 2014

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The event had a choice of cross-country distances between 5k, 10k, and half-marathon – plus a 300m fun run for children. had all decided to go for the 10k – doing a half-marathon on a sunny bank holiday weekend just seemed a bit too keen. The estate was a fantastic backdrop to the event, and not too far off the M5 so easy to find, and the National Trust had certainly put a lot of effort into looking after the estate. Plus with the bribe of a free family pass to the house and estate there wasn’t a shortage of volunteers to handle registration and marshalling.

Each distance set off in 15 minute waves with the half-marathon setting off first, so once they had gone past after their opening lap around a field we took our places on the start line. The briefing by the starter ended up with the words “this is a brutal course”, surely this wasn’t going to be another tough race again, but “the last km is downhill to the finish”, phew that sounded alright. The opening couple of kilometres were relatively flat over meadows, and then the warm-up hill started to thin the field out. Rob started to pull away slightly, and after a short rest in the incline the hill took on a more serious test of our legs, and with that Rob took it in his stride and disappeared into the woodland that was the last we would see of him until the finish.
Being sheltered from the sun the course was definitely soft underfoot, with exposed roots and slippery rocks making pushing on up the inclines challenging and the downhill sections more careful than would normally be taken. Going past some of the half-marathon runners you had to feel sorry for them as they were going to have to do all of this for a second time. Running at this time of year is pleasant off-road as you do get to run through some wonderful bluebell woodland. On hitting yet another testing hill the 9k marker was seen, and the thought of a downhill run to the finish was dashed as the route just carried on upwards, until finally the decent started. This was no simple stretch your legs and pick up speed to coast in. On seeing a huge tree truck in the way panic set in as there was no way you could jump it, then a small arrow on the trunk pointed downwards to a gap under the tree that was very, very small. I tried to look for a way around but that involved thick undergrowth, so the small hole was the only way and even Bilbo Baggins would have struggled to get through it with any finesse. On the last couple of hundred yards it was good to be able to stretch the legs out and finish with a sprint.
On getting the results Rob Bircher had put in a great show for CLC Striders with a time of 50:10 was 15th overall and 3rd in category (M40-49), Andrew Paterson 54:48 36th, and Charlotte Sugden 56:09 45th (9th Lady) out of a field of 195 runners. A great course to run in for those that enjoy a good cross-country challenge, and I will definitely be back next year to take this one on. For anyone interested the link to my Garmin figures are here</p>