Yesterday was Racing Day!!! I really wanted to run a race during this trip, primarily as an excuse to catch up with my lovely friend Nic. Nicola and I have been friends for 20 years (how did this happen?) and we lived together in London for a while and used to run together there.
She picked me up in her foxy little sports car at an ungodly hour and we drove over Salisbury Plain to Longleat for our 10k. Longleat House is one of my favourite places. It’s a fantastic safari park which I spent my childhood going to. It has a spectacular stately home. It had what was, in my youth, Wiltshire’s only nightclub so it saw the start of my short, totally pathetic stint as a ‘clubber’. And now, twenty years later, I was back to run it! My lens was a little cloudy today, it’s okay now, but the photos are a bit cloudy too.
It was freezing cold today but dry, for which I was very grateful. We hung out a bit, used the loos several times and posed for photographs and then headed over to the start line, in the shadow of the beautiful old house. We were looking out for Madeleine, one of the first ever people that I wasn’t related to who followed this blog – I was really excited about meeting her, but we didn’t get to do so before the start. The start was a little unspectacular – we don’t do the national anthem in the UK before races (I’ve lived in the US long enough now to think that this is a shame and should become mandatory). We didn’t hear a count-down but somehow we were all shuffling forward and we were off.
We had heard that the course was on trails so we had both prepared for a mud-bath but in the end it turned out to be entirely on paved trails and little lanes. However it was hilly. SUPER-hilly! The first two kilometres were pretty much entirely uphill, up narrow little lanes so it was impossible to settle into a pace as it bottlenecked. But the hill was relentless and long, so we padded up. Our objectives for this race were; to have some fun, not get too muddy and to win the prize for most words exchanged whilst running. We achieved all three. It was a beautiful course, through woods, past cottages and past a gorgeous pub, but it was hilly!! Three big hills in 10k! We walked a bit…no shame! Bearing in mind that lions and tigers roamed not too far from where we ran, I didn’t spot anyone sneaking into the woods for a surreptitious pee!!
Eventually we turned back down the driveway towards the finish line. The last quarter of a mile is all downhill, hurtling down towards Longleat House, such a spectacular view to finish on! And as we dashed through the chute, we saw Madeleine waving madly at the side! Result!! We’d run it in 1.02.45…no records broken except the aforementioned words exchanged one!
It was lovely to meet Madeleine. We all hurried to the cafe (one of the benefits of a race at a Safari Park is that there are cafes and nice indoor loos aplenty) where we had hot chocolate (thanks Madeleine) and a good natter! At one point, someone came past and randomly put an envelope in front of me. Bewildered, I turned it over and it said ‘spot prize’. Upon opening, it was a voucher for a free pair of running shoes when I bought another pair at a local shop. Result! Ironic that a) I had new shoes on and b) I wasn’t near the running shop. So I passed it on!!!
And then it was time to go home, so we bundled up, put the roof down on Nic’s car, turned the heating waaaay up and drove home for tea and cake!
This was a great event and one I’d really recommend. Well organised, well marshalled, a beautiful route, a cafe at the start and finish, plenty of loos…and an amazing medal. Longleat is known for its lions….look what they gave us when we finished.
Anyway…if you’re in the area next year, do it!!! Lots of fun!