The Hills have Thighs

Race: Henham 10k

Date: 24th June 2018

Venue: Henham & Ugley School, Hertfordshire

It’s was a scorcher of a race! A thigh burning, uphill running, sunburn fueled, mainly cross country killer of a 10k. When I signed up for this race I was expecting a fun little run around the village and maybe some country tracks, I wasn’t ready for my most grueling 10k so far!

The Henham 10k is hardly the biggest race you’ll ever run. I’d guess there were maybe 250 runners for the 10k, with a kids 3k also going on at the same time. The start of the race is at Henham & Ugley Primary School, with race numbers distributed in the school hall and all proceeds from the race going to the school. It’s a family event with lots of kids around taking part in the 3k as well as the usual club runners in the 10k (and me!) It was set-up like a traditional school fete, with the start on the school field and a nice family atmosphere. There were stalls for tea and cake, a stand from the Saffron Brewery serving local beers, sausages and burgers from the Secret Sausage shop in Bishops Stortford and a selection of other local businesses including sports massage, gyms and Golf World Stansted. I would have loved to be a spectator at this one and get stuck in to the local sausages immediately rather than running 10k before I got near them.

After the safety briefing (important on such a warm day) and Zumba class warm-up (not important at all) it was time to get started. I’m going to stress again, it was a warm morning. After only about 500 metres I was properly warmed up and sweating. The opening part of the course was on the road, I didn’t notice at the time that it was mainly downhill, I just thought I was off to a really good start. Ooops!

Once the first kilometre was complete we hit the fields, mainly running on farm tracks around fields. It was hard going, for the first 5k there was very little cover and the sun was really beating down, how I wished I had creamed myself up with some factor 30.

Then it got worse!

I can’t be sure exactly when we started going back uphill, maybe around the 5.5k mark. I passed a corner and headed into a new field, ahead of me I could see that thing that all  runners fear – the long gradual upwards gradient. Up we went, with another blind corner into a different field ahead only to find an even longer upward gradual gradient, it went on like this for about 2.5k! It was a loooong 2.5k and any hopes of getting a better time than two weeks before at the Hatfield Forest 10k were dashed. I dared not stop or start walking as I feared I’d never be able to start running again, so I went for a very slow plod up the hill – my thighs were burning! Finally around 7.5k we hit some shade, I passed one of the course marshals who shouted to me that I was at the top of the hill – lies! I kept going up for another 500 metres, it was the end of me. Heading back to the village I had nothing left in my legs and plodded (not walking) in chatting to a chap who like me was also wearing an England shirt. We chatted about our chances in the World Cup ahead of that afternoon’s match versus Panama (a 6-1 win) and were delighted to get to the finish of this very hard going cross country 10k.

My legs were jelly afterwards, I collected my medal and rewarded myself with a lovely pint of local brew. And a sausage in a bun. And maybe also a piece of cake! That is the joy of this 10k, it has a village fete feel. Most people seemed to know each other and with all the kids being involved it had a very good, friendly feel. The course is brutal, absolute killer. Perhaps in cooler weather I wouldn’t have struggled so much, but for me it was quite challenging – and perhaps that’s no bad thing as I try to keep improving my times.

Scores!

Time: 1.06.24

Event: 7/10

Course: 7/10

Difficulty (for me): 9/10

Would I run it again: Perhaps

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