Monday, 9 May 2011

Bluebell Run - 08/05/2011

Rapid descending in Townbrook Valley, but not fast enough!
Photo courtesy Al Tye -

I hadn't intended to run this race but it seemed like a good idea as I headed back from a party in Oxford on Saturday night, other races being really a bit too far away given I needed to do other things afterwards.

The Bluebell Run is a charity event in aid of the local cancer ward. It attracts a small field of mostly local runners (we had two from Dark Peak and a couple of guys from Sparkhill too). The route's a nice one, starting in the Rectory Field at Church Stretton and climbing to the Long Mynd Hotel, then following Cunnery Road through to the ford in Little Stretton (about 1.5 miles into the race).

From here the route crosses the camp site and heads up Ashes Hollow, turning into the valley between Ashlet and Yearlet and climbing steadily up this to a steep grassy headwall which is taken direct and leads out onto the col between Ashlet and Yearlet (about 3 miles). Turning left here, a short final climb leads to the path which skirts the north face of Yearlet to the head of Townbrook Valley. Continuing round the head of the valley, the main Townbrook path is picked up and followed down into the Rectory Wood and through the kissing gate to the finish.

The official stats for the race give it as a BS grade race 5 miles long with 1,200' of climbing. Another 50' of climbing and it would be an AS though.

I didn't really warm up enough, but gave the start a pretty good effort and was 12th roughly coming into the campsite after a good fast run along Cunnery Road. I flagged a little up Ashes Hollow and started walking pretty much straight away in the side valley. I should have run a little more really, but I think some of the Three Peaks miles are probably still in my legs. I got a second wind at the bottom of the steep section and started to climb better, gradually catching up Ruth Stafford who'd passed me in the less steep section.

It wasn't to be though and I ran out of steep climbing with Ruth still 15 yards in front, so by the time I was running again she was 50 yards up. I couldn't make a dent in her lead on me by the top of Townbrook, and with sore feet and no-one close behind me I think I mentally settled for holding position at that point. I ended up following Ruth all the way down 30 to 50 yards behind her, finishing 16th in about 43 minutes (I forgot to stop the flipping watch again). Hopefully Phil will email me the results through soon.

Finishing - photo courtesy of John Corfield

Anyway I suppose I'm reasonably happy with that - a finish halfway up the field (sadly only 32 plus a few walkers), and a fairly fast 5 miles. My left achilles gave me some trouble in the race and has been pretty darn sore today (Monday) - I hope that's just general tightness and a crap warm up, and not further trouble with the dodgy left leg. I thought I'd left all that behind when I got round the Three Peaks OK.

Mel Price put in an amazing performance, finishing fourth overall and carving five minutes off the ladies record apparently. Mark Agnew ran with his son Nate, and they finished in a very decent time, earning Nate a box of chocolates. Pictures may appear in the South Shropshire Journal courtesy of John Corfield, and Al Tye was on the Townbrook path and endured a soaking as a heavy shower hit about 30 seconds after I'd finished.

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