Race Report by Cathy Keay
The first running of this race looked very appealing, organised by White Star Running (WSR), (who do lots of “bonkers” trail races in Dorset) this was the first time they’d organised a road race and offered the Casterbridge Half or Dorchester Full. The Bank Holiday weekend also offered camping and entertainment on the Saturday and Sunday evening
So after a quick decision Mylene, Emma and myself signed up and “Three went mad in Dorset” !!!
The journey down was more of trek than the than the actual race, but once we arrived at Cokers Frome Farm we were pointed in the direction of our camping spot, the tent was pitched and an important trip to Tesco’s was made (the poshest Tesco’s ever with fountains outside !!).
You also had the option to pre-book your food, which we did as we didn’t trust our camp cooking skills !!! The Saturday evening was spent tasting a local ale (just one !) and listening to “Stealing Whiskey” a modern folk band.
The Sunday morning was bright and clear. The marathon runners started at 8:30am and actually ran past the campsite, so we wandered down in our pj’s to cheer them off, we then had an hour before our start. By 9:15am the campsite and the area where the day runners had parked was desolate, I suddenly panicked “I think everyone’s gone already” – we headed down to the baggage trucks, only to be told the Half start was about ½ mile away, and we best get a sprint on or we would miss the start !!!
The first miles went through Dorchester town and it seemed all the locals had turned out to cheer everyone on. We then headed out on rolling country roads towards Puddletown Forest, the sun was now beating down so the shade provided by the forest trees was a great relief, but the hills were relentless. There was great support in Puddletown village and this was where the marathon route re-joined the half route. Just after 7 miles I stumbled across the famous “Love Station” which provided all the refreshments you could want – which included, beer, cider, cherry gin & vodka, sweets, cakes, squash and gels. After a quick slurp of beer I reluctantly carried on.
It was now very hot, but at over halfway I knew the miles were ticking by and by now my pace was nice and steady. The marathoners had now started to go past me (the winner actually crossed the line in 2:52:42), as each one went past I made sure I gave them a clap and shouted encouragement.
The course profile had indicated the biggest hill was at 10 miles (and they weren’t wrong !!), most of the half distance runners were walking this and pointing at the sign saying “the last hill we promise” – but they lied, as at about 11 miles there was another, and another, and another !!
The final miles were a long slog to get back to the finish, long winding hilly country lanes, but eventually I could see the campsite in the distance, one final downhill and then a long flat path within the farm toward the finish line. At this stage the crowd was huge, and it reminded me of the cycling races you see on the tv with all the spectators on the path cheering frantically.
I crossed the line and noted the distance at 13.4 miles, I was presented with my medal by the Lady mayor, and grabbed my T-shirt. I chatted with my friend Denise who was staffing the baggage trucks and then decided to pop back to the tent to change into my flip-flops and shorts before Mylene and Emma finished.
Cheering everyone in was fab – the look on everyone’s faces and the sheer joy of completing their first half or full marathon was great. I then spotted Mylene and Emma and cheered them in as loud as I could. I joined them for a celebratory hug and a chat with the Kenilworth Runners (there were about 10 of them) and we then headed back to our tent for a beer !!!
After a shower in the fantastic shower truck, we were ready to hit the beer tent and Barn Dance. We’d pre-booked a Sunday lunch (which was well deserved), and we then tasted all the beers provided by the Piddle Brewery, and danced to the country band Black Sheep.
Overall it was well organised weekend, the marshals on route were brilliant, the other runners were great, the Barn Dance was fun, camping was cool and the beer was excellent !!!