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.
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.
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.
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!
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.