Sunday, 2 February 2014

Open Adventure Silva 10 trail series - North Downs

This was the toughest 10K I have run, magnified by the conditions underfoot due to the amount of rain that has hit the UK this winter.

The race making it's debut in the race calendar was held in the Surrey countryside and starts in the Village of Cranleigh. 

Race registration was in the band hall within the village. I arrived in good time parking in the adjacent car park and had chance to sit in the warm for half an hour before heading off to the start line about a mile away. This was a good chance to warm up for the race and I walk/jogged my way to the start.

We all gathered under a large gazebo for race briefing and registering our 'dibbers' attached around our wrists that would time our run.

We then made our way to the start and after a 3,2,1 countdown we were off.

The first couple of minutes was on the Tarmac as we made our way to the trail. 

The pace was good on the road but that was soon to come to an abrupt end as we turned into the first field...a very wet field and then we hit the trails...very muddy trails, all this plus the fact we were steadily climbing in elevation.

In fact it felt like most the first half of the race was climbing, and the mud and puddles were becoming ever more frequent and tricky to manoeuvre through. 

Head torches at the ready, the start and finish line

The worst part was that the mud was sapping the strength out my legs and by the time we reached the biggest hill of the race at around 4K, I was already reduced and resigned to walking the hill. Even on a good day I would have struggled with this hill, the incline was steep and I never saw anyone around me or ahead running it.

I saw some people at the start in road trainers, I dread to think how they got on, my new Soloman's were made for this type of terrain, but even they found it hard sometimes to grip in the deep slippery mud. Generally though they were brilliant on the course unlike my headtorch.

I think I had the cheapest headtorch on show in this race and a lot of the time I was thankful to be running near someone with a better brighter light. My torch was just not sufficient for this quite technical course in the dark. I don't know how I got around without doing myself an injury, most the time it was pot luck and I just went with the flow as my body slipped around the course.

As well as a couple of steep up hills there were a couple of quite tricky steep technical downhills, a combination of rocks, tree trunks and mud. My trainers definitely helped me out here.

The course was well marked with reflective arrows and a few Marshall's braving the dark around the course. It worked well but at one point a small crowd of us lost a couple of minutes continuing to run up a hill on some Tarmac when we should have turned left earlier. I think we were just enjoying the Tarmac after all the mud!

The second half of the race was definitely the easier and I tried to make up some time on the less technical down hills. The last 3K I was running alone with no one else around me which at times had me wondering if I'd gone of course, but at the same time was exciting to be running somewhere new in the dark. By this time I was holding my headtorch in my hand to get more light on the ground. 

Plenty more water to get through and dodging fallen trees but It wasn't long before the finish was in sight and I finished in a time of 1:07:26

My 10K PB is 44 minutes, so I was a long way off of that, but conditions and the technicality of the course put pay to that. In fact the winning time was 45 minutes, and I came in 38th position overall and 10th in my age group. Quite a respectable position which considering how difficult the race was I'm quite satisfied.

After a nice hot sweet black coffee and some biscuits I made my way back to the car a mile away before changing into something dry and warm and driving home.

The socks (and legs) were white before I left!
I thought the organisation was good and professional. A good course (would have been better a bit drier underfoot!) and something different. 

A little disappointed with no medal or goody bag but for £10 entry it was certainly value for money. I don't know of many races these days that is as cheap as this so well done to the organisers for keeping the price down.

Would definitely recommend and I'll be looking out for future Open Adventure events.


  1. I haven't done any night racing at all. I have done a few night training runs, maybe it's time to give it a try.

    1. You should give it a go, a great experience!

  2. Nicely done, Ian. This is essentially my 10k hill training route, when the days are a bit lighter. The start line is a one minute walk from my front door! I've not tried it recently in the mud and certainly never in the dark. 67 minutes is great going as the best I've managed is 57 minutes, in the dry and daylight - and we've got a similar 10k PB! I'm a bit gutted I didn't man up and come along for this, as I only found out about it the day before and was knackered when registration time rolled around. Next year!