Reports

Knole House Relay - 19 July 2016

KHR winners 2016

Here are the results of the Knole House Relay from Tuesday night including lap split times and lap consistency ratings, writes John Denyer. Congratulations to the winning team of Kym Herregods, Anna White, Chris Desmond and Andrew Hutchinson.

Thanks for all turning out and making it a successful event - we hope to stage it again next year.

KHR 2016 participants

Hoy Half Marathon - 12 June 2016

Hoy Half start

Orkney has been in the news recently for the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, writes Simon Hallpike. But another event overlooking Scapa Flow this month was the 30th Hoy Half Marathon, which I had been training for since last year.

For most of us participants, this begins with a thirty five minute ferry trip from HoutonHouton on the Orkney Mainland to the former military harbour at Lyness. It turned out that the woman sitting next to me, married to an orcadian competitor, formerly lived just a few yards from where I live in Biggin Hill. The ferry trip was followed by a bus ride to the island's primary school which serves as the race HQ.

Famous for its coastal stack, the Old Man of HoyOld Man of Hoy, the island's name derives from the old Norse for "high", since it is the hilliest of the Orkney Isles. If this is not apparent from the bus trip from the HQ 13.1 miles to the start, it certainly is from the climb at four miles up Lyrawa Hill: up and up for a mile and a half with no respite. A new challenge (to me) this year was a constant twenty-five mph headwind, which thwarted my target time in the first few metres.

From the start it is ten miles on single-track roads to the first inhabited house on the course. After the first three and a half miles through the desolate Rackwick valley,Simon there are views across Scapa Flow all the way, and you can also see the leaders, hunched as they climb up hills miles ahead. I had a few other runners around me for most of the race, and although I seemed to get clear of them from ten to twelve miles, the final hill, "Ore Brae, a nasty little hill which gets worse around the corner" according to the organisers, soaked up nearly all my remaining energy. I was overtaken in the final metres, but as it turned out, not by any over-60s and I won a big cup!

In contrast to the morning ferry, on which all the runners hid from the wind in the windowless passenger lounge, the trip back involved sitting out on deck in brilliant sunshine: excellent relaxation after a great day's racing.

RACE TO THE STONES 2015

"On 11 July 2015 my son, Matt and I ran the Race to the Stones over 100k (63 miles) between the village of Lewknor in Oxfordshire and Avebury in Wiltshire...." Read the full account of Richard Thomas' epic run here.

Man v Horse 2015

Horse BannerThe Man v Horse race started in 1980 after several pints at the Neuadd Arms in Llanwrtyd Wells. The relative merits of men and horses running over mountainous ground was discussed and the result was this now annual event.
 
It was 25 years before Huw Lobb became the first man to triumph over the horse. He won in 2hrs 5mins, beating the fastest horse by 2 mins. This achievement was repeated 3 years by Florien Holtinger but the horse remains unbeaten since.

Sat 13th June just before 4am I loaded the family and dogs into the car for the journey to Wales. We arrived at 9am for registration after I insisted on stopping for a full English as part of my race nutrition strategy!
 
With 2hrs to kill we went to find the 55 horses that we would be competing against. They were in a different part of the town having their vet check before being classed as fit to race. There were some great looking animals with a range of fancy footwearHorse Footwear on show, the equine equivalent of Inov-8 you could say. Two horses caught my eye, one was young looking and to my eye perhaps in need of a full English himself, the other was a funny looking short thing, with a squashed in face and a wobbly bottom lip. My wife Maria and daughter Sophie who are both very horsey people were horrified at my disparaging remarks. The first, on closer inspection was seriously fit and the second was an Arab, reputably very good endurance horses, and apparently the prettiest there and has a resemblance to Maria’s very own Arab. Oops!

The Mayor got the race underway for the runners at 11am after the briefing, which included advice such as yellow water buckets for horses, black buckets for runners! The horses would start 15 mins later to avoid any runner being stampled (Maria’s own word for such events).

The course is 21 miles of very hilly, rocky, muddy, sometimes boggy, open moorland and forested land. Most of the route is across private land too. Considering I thought this was a 'fun' event with fancy dressed entrants it was tough. The start was up hill for a few miles which strung us out, into woodland and through the first of many rivers.Runners I was gutted when the first horse came by me at only 4.5 miles, and it was that scrawny thing I had spotted at the start! Without having any idea of the route it was difficult to know how hard to push and when to walk the hills. But of course it’s the horses we were there to beat and apparently we are better descenders. Rubbish, I was comprehensively beaten on flat out, arms-windmilling downs, tricky, narrow, ankle-breaking downs and every other down in between.

 We do have one possible advantage though. The horses have to go through a mid-race vet check. Not only must they still be sound, but they cannot leave before their heart rate reaches 64 bpm. But nobody I spoke to was sure whether this time was subtracted at the end? I for one would have welcomed a nice rub down and a breather halfway round.
 
This stop meant the leading horses had to pass us all over again.Men & Horses There is something very exciting about having horses chasing you down.Horses chasing You know they are coming, you can practically feel them through the ground, the steady thrumping (my very own word for such occasions) getting closer and then the snorting, and they will not stop either. They also look imposing, all that’s missing is for the rider to shout some kind of war cry and take my head off with a Morning Star.

As fantastic as the route is, I was happy when I could hear the tannoy at the finish in the valley below. All down hill now I thought, but no… one more thigh high river crossing and a gut turning climb up to the finish just to make you truly glad it’s over.

Final tally was 51st place overall. Behind 10 relay teams and 15 horses. I managed a time of 03:03:23 at a pace of 9:11 m/miles. Leo the horse on the other hand managed 02:20:18. The leading man, Hugh Aggleton was 10 mins behind with 02:30:27.

This is a fantastic race, very well managed and marshalled. It’s great fun with plenty of local support but attracting competitors from around the globe. Put it on your bucket list.

Andy