Race Review: Hard as Snails

This was the first race I booked after the Brighton Marathon.  I waited almost 2 whole weeks (which seemed like forever) before I booked another race.  I didn’t want to rush into anything, and initially after the marathon ended I was desperately seeking a fall marathon to have another crack at the big 26.2.  But then I came across this little gem, Hard as Snails.  It sounded hard, ✔️.  It was an off-road trail run, ✔️.  I would do the 10K distance, and my 8 year old son Ellis, could do the 2K distance, ✔️✔️.  It was a mid-week evening run, well clear of any cricket games my husband might be playing, ✔️.  There was a snail shaped medal for all participants, yes please 🐌, ✔️.  And it left a reasonable amount of time to train as well, final ✔️, and out came my credit card and I booked!

I was pleased I’d not instantly booked another marathon, and was going to tackle something new.  Next spring would always be there for another marathon, this summer I could challenge myself with something totally different 🏔️.

I did however have a communication issue with my husband, where I told him about the race I’d booked for me and Ellis, and how it was Wednesday in the evening and we could all go together.  Brian was totally on board.  Maybe I should have seen that slightly glassy ‘I’m not actually listening to you’ look in his eyes, but you guessed it, he wasn’t listening 🙄.  And by some crazy chance his annual charity mid-week cricket game was the same very day 😩😩😩.

The main issue with this is two-fold, first – getting there, as I don’t drive, and once we were there, who would look after Ellis while I was running the 10K.  This really was a two-parent job, and I couldn’t really find a way to make it work without multiple babysitters in multiple locations.  So I ditched my 8 year old 🤷‍♀️.  I promise he was not bothered at all.  In fact, he had a great play date with some friends and his little brother.

Pre-race photo at the start

My friend Nat was also running it with a friend of hers, and she drove us all to the race.  We parked up, and ambled over to the race number collection table.  Wrote our ICE (in case of emergency) details ⭐ on the back of our numbers and then pinned them on.  A quick trip to the loo, and we headed across the road, through a residential street up a hill.

The start was really easy to find, with the big inflatable arch and everyone was milling about. I also saw my neighbour Krysia there as well (check out her insta here, she’s awesome), we had no idea each other was doing this race, but it was nice to see another friendly face.

I was a little confused about where the start was, but it didn’t matter.  The herd of runners started shuffling along, and we shuffled along with them, and then we started, up a big hill, the first of many.  I actually quite like running up hills, but this was hard going. Nat’s friend was struggling a little bit, and we kept our pace slow to keep her in our little group.  I definitely felt that running together, having a chat, and enjoying the beauty of the scenery together, was much more important than a time goal.

I was surprised at all the sand underfoot, which I hadn’t anticipated.  A lot of the trails we were running on were horse bridle paths, and the sand is great riding, or so I am told. For running it, if you couldn’t guess, makes it super hard.  Nat’s friend decided that the 10K distance was too much for her and she was going to drop back and do the 5K.  So almost at the summit, she turned back around at the 5k turn around point, and we went on our way.

The view – wowy

As we went on, we reached the summit and were treated to the most amazing views every. Breathtaking was an under statement. We both felt so bad that she had struggled up 90% of this hill and was denied the reward of this amazing view.  We continued on, up and down, single file, jumping up onto the banks to let the faster runners through.  Actually, that bit got a bit weary-some, as most were very friendly, kindly asking us to move out of the way, but others were a bit more ‘runner coming through’ at the top of their lungs, and it wasn’t really that polite.

We reached a water table, stopped for a drink 🚰, and the 15K runners went right (further up hill) and the 10K runners went down.  Some of the declines were pretty intense, as you were trying to stay in control and not take out another runner, and also not be taken out by some of the speedsters behind us.  The sunlight continued to dapple though the tree canopy, but as the sun got lower, so did we (in altitude), and the forest took on a richer, greener, more intense feel.  Maybe this intense feeling was just the finish line getting tantalisingly closer, but it felt lovely.

Just a few hills

The race photographer was quite close to the end, when we were feeling pretty weary (I often wish they were a bit earlier on in the race so that it is not as hard to look un-weary).

We shot through the finishing arch, collected our medal, goodies, snacks, and friend.  We took the obligatory post run selfie, and then decided we should hit the road.  I mean it was a Wednesday night after all, and probably past our bedtimes!

In Summary

It was great (hard) race, in a gorgeous setting.  There was no going for a time (at least not for me), but great to get some hills in your legs.  The mid-week evening setting made it feel informal, and fun.  I would highly recommend this event and I would definitely do it again, hopefully next year I can better coordinate my husband’s cricket schedule! 😉

The race was on the 3rd July, and organised by AATEvents, check out their website here.

Did you run the Hard as Snails?  Do you like off road trail races?  Please share, I’d love to hear from you.

4 comments

  1. Hello again. I left a comment on your Brighton Marathon review, as I was out on the course myself that day. Back then I mentioned that I did race photography when I wasn’t running myself.

    Guess what? I was the photographer for this event too. I feel I need to take a moment to explain exactly why we lurk where we do, as I know it can seem odd to the competitor.

    I was the only photographer on the course that evening but, to maximise coverage, had been asked to cover three locations (actually four but I pointed out that this was simply impossible). I was asked to cover the kids’ race, the start of the wooded, sandy area and close to the finish.

    There’s only a short time to move between locations. Please also bear in mind I was covering the same terrain with 15kg of kit on my back.
    I was running between locations and working up a sweat too. Also, if I went to the further flung sections of the course I would only be able to cover one spot.

    In picking my final spot I chose the bottom of a hill in the hope that this would be slightly kinder on the runners late in the day. I also look for good sight lines, with bends in the course to provide nicer shots.

    Hopefully you can see from this that we don’t deliberately lie in wait for runners, trying to catch them at their worst. On the whole, quite a bit of thought goes into balancing wide coverage with the need to provide a scenic backdrop.

    And finally, well done of course. Glad you enjoyed the race. Doubtless I shall be lurking at another event in your future. In the meantime, I’m booked to run the Norfolk Coastal Marathon in September (my first 26.2 over trail) and then Brighton Marathon 2020.

    Keep on running 😀

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    • Hi Jim, Omg so funny you were the photog on this race too! Please don’t take my comment the wrong way, I totally understand about having to run between locations. And I can’t believe you were the only photographer on the course, that was amazing that you were able to do it, what pressure! I actually love the shots you got, not only of me, but I’ve seen some of my friends shots and the sunshine and backdrop was amazing. I was a bit weary at this point in the race, but in hindsight, this is probably the real side of race photography, capturing how I was actually feeling. Exciting you are doing a trail marathon, that will be a big challenge. I’ve got my fingers crossed for London, and if I don’t get in on the ballot I will probably do Brighton again.

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  2. Interested to hear when the next half marathon or marathon is? Have you already a place confirmed for Brighton 2020? I assume you have a race in the diary before the February winter 10K?

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