If You Come Down to the Woods Today

Race: Hoohaah Hatfield Forest 10k

Date: 10th June 2018

Venue: Hatfield Forest, Essex

My first 10k race where I didn’t have to travel for an hour on public transport! YAY! Finally something local in the lovely setting of this National Trust forest. The race itself is organised by Hoohaah and the Hatfield Forest 10k was the last of their series of 10k races for 2018, with this year’s charity being Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust.

I come to the forest a lot with family, so I know all about the setting. As you’d expect for a National Trust ran forest it is not only a beautiful setting but also very well maintained. So not much chance of running across litter, cigarette buts, discarded beer bottles or worse! There’s a cafe near to the start of the race serving tea, coffee, sandwiches, chips and very nice sausage rolls – which I may have sampled post-race. I drove to the forest from home and upon arrival was directed to Elgins car park which is about half a kilometer to the start and cafe. Once you’ve walked to the start area you find one of the downsides of this race – a lack of toilets. As the toilets are attached to the cafe and shop buildings they are quite small, which is to be expected as the forest doesn’t usually have 500 runners all arrive at once. Very quickly there was an enormous queue, and of course it was, as always, the ladies who had the longer wait. Not sure anything can be done about that as the cost of putting in temporary toilets would eat into any money raised for the charity. I’d suggest getting over there early to minimize any wait.

I had missed the online entries but it was very easy to sign-up on the day with almost no wait to grab your race number and timing chip. I’d guess there were 500ish runners, they gathered together at the start and did the usual introduction to the course, marshalls etc. Then of course it was the pre-race warm-up, have to be honest and say I never really get involved in the aerobics session that seems to come before every 10k, I usually use the first kilometer as my warm-up (I need to save as much energy as possible before the race!)

Before I knew it we were off. Of course as we’re in a forest it is a mainly cross country 10k with a small amount of forest paths and roads also used. It’s a great place to run, you run on open plains and in the canopy of the forest with the possibility or dear and cows joining the race, which the cows did at the very start! On the plains it’s pretty bumpy underfoot with the biggest danger being spraining an ankle. There are long stretches out across the plains, I was so relived to get back under the canopy on some of the forest paths just to cool off. It was warm on the day, so a third water station might have been a good idea, but it might just be that the club runners are fitter than me!

I got round in 1.04.50, certainly not a record time but one I’m pretty happy with considering I’d never tried cross country before and in places it was pretty hard going. I did attempt to attack the finish at about 3k from home, yeah it was a stupid idea and by the time I finished I was running in treacle! you live and learn. This was a very enjoyable race, ran in good spirits with a course that was hard work in places. And all that on a lovely summer’s day – I shall be back in 2019 for this one.

Scores!

Time: 1.04.50

Event: 7/10

Course: 8/10

Difficulty (for me): 8/10

Would I run it again: 100% Yes

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