A very cold morning for the traditional start of the Cambridge fell running year. Race HQ was once again the Stepping Stones pub in Westhumble located at the base of Box Hill. No team photo this year. So here are a few of those pesky steps!
Unfortunately, once again due to a very over active online entry system only three Harriers managed to stay up to midnight or get up very early to ensure a place, Emily Meins managed an entry by swapping with a non-Cambridge runner who had to drop out. Gone are the pre online days when we had up to 13 Harriers running. 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.
The course this year had a couple of very subtle changes but none that really seemed to alter the distance much. The ground was reasonably dry enabling confidence on the downhills. Just like the previous three years 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 lovely course is mainly through woods on good but sometimes narrow paths and over the expanse of Headley Heath. After about 6 miles a steep descent down on more steps leads to the second long climb, the route up was part of the subtle course changes, we went straight up the hill to the gate at the top rather than bearing right halfway up and following the tree line to the gate. A chance now to recover a bit though the legs are definitely wilting with a run through woods before turning off the path and a headlong dash down a rocky gully and out into the open before climbing once again including a few more steps for good measure. A left turn and a drag uphill to the trig point, turn sharp right and then plummet down to the finish including those 279 steps, care and concentration required here. I saw more than one person more or less walking down!
The men’s race was won by Chris Smith, though down as an ‘unattached’ runner in the results is in fact a member of Thames Hare & Hounds. I heard that his time of 53:49 is a new course record I assume because of the subtle course changes!
Rosemary Hurford of Clapham Chasers was 1st Lady in 69:53
Christian was 1st Cambridge and 2nd V50, Clem was 2nd to finish and Emily 3rd all improved their times over 2018. Ian was 4th to finish, continuing his comeback! Time was way down but was surprised to be 1st V70 until realising he was the only one!
Finally, for those interested, below is a 10min video of the event – which shows just about everyone who ran.