36th Box Hill Fell Race (7.5 miles / 1700 feet)
A lovely bright but very cold morning with thick frost for the traditional start of the Cambridge fell year. A new race HQ in Dorking at Ashcombe school, the Aviva Sports Club having closed after being the post-race venue for 24 years, a blow as it was perfect with showers, food and beer!
Unfortunately this year due to a very over active online entry system only four Harriers managed to get in. Box Hill is the only fell race in the south east and is an excellent, gentle introduction to the sport. Although classed as a fell race this is really a good cross country race with a couple of testing hills.
This was the third year of the new course, a START banner would be useful as there was much confusion about where the exact start line was in the woods. The ground was frozen after a week of frosty weather, this made some of the downhills slightly tricky as you weren't sure which bits offered a grip also frozen muddy boot prints but generally the going was fast. Just like last year it looks as if the 279 steps just after the headlong dash from the start caught some newcomers out, runners who went storming up soon ran out of steam. It also doesn't help if you start too near the back as you get caught in very bad traffic for the first mile or more, guess who did!
The course is mainly through woods on good but sometimes narrow paths and over Headley Heath. Beside the steps the two long climbs tend to sort people out, after the second one at about 6 miles there is a nice run through woods though on tiring legs before down through a rocky gully out into the open then back up to the top of Box Hill and finally the dash down the steps to the finish, concentration needed here.
The race was won by James McMullan (Thames Hare & Hounds) who held the record for the old course (pre 2015), returning this year he missed a new course record by 16 seconds after failing to negotiate a fallen tree, still won by over 3 mins.
Congratulations to Christian who won the M50â€™s and slightly improved his time and to Alan despite going off course still managed 3rd M60. Graham also managed to improve his time.