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  • Christian Poulton

Surrey Hills Trail Challenge

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

This was the 41st running of the Surrey Hills race and the weather couldn’t have been warmer or sunnier than it has ever been. Three Cambridge Harriers made their way to Dorking for the 30k ‘A’ trail race: Clem Dixon who is somewhat of a Surrey Hills race veteran along with Tarbo Fukuzawa and Christian Poulton who were race virgins.

The course is optimistically referred to as “a generally undulating route across the picturesque Surrey Hills taking in the summits of Leith Hill, Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill … providing an interesting navigational challenge into the bargain.”

For those who’ve run the race before or have taken the time to recce’d the route a distinct advantage on race day can be gained as the race course comprises of 12 check points with no predefined or prescribed route between them. Therefore being course novices Tarbo and I decided to tag along with Clem and much amusement was gained as we took the more direct or runnable routes resulting in us overtaking our much faster but more navigationally challenged fellow competitors. To add further insult to injury, Clem, who knows the route like the back of his hand, must have been a very disconcerting sight to see, running passed them without a map in sight!

At about 13 miles I unfortunately tripped and landed awkwardly on my right ankle which was just recovering from a previous injury, causing me to have to stop, take stock and walk the pain off for a while. Tarbo being the true gent that he is stayed behind for a while to make sure that I was OK, causing him to lose a few places and the sight of Clem. This meant that we both had to navigate for ourselves the last 5 miles to the finish. Although I was well behind Tarbo and hobbling along at a pedestrian pace, I remembered what Clem had told me in the car coming up about the most direct routes to take. Fortunately I didn’t get lost for once and actually finished ahead of Tarbo and in 6th just behind Clem’s 5th place!

Clem and I ultimately placed 1st and 2nd V50 winning a bottle of wine and a jar or marmalade respectively. Who needs the now ubiquitous oversized finishers medals and t-shirts so often doled out nowadays for the big city road races?


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