I had serious hopes that this run report would be a glowing exposition into the delights of a White Star Running Event.
In particular, their Frolic events which offer something for everyone. Frolic events are timed multiple lap events for teams of two, three or four and for those daft enough or after marathons as a solo.
The start/finish of the 3.5(ish) mile trail loop is in the middle of the huge ‘party’ camping field (a quiet field is available for those not wanting to try and drink a cider farm out of cider!). You don’t even need to cook as a Vegan Pop Up and Dorset meat sell delicious food to tempt all palates. Well stocked bar and coffee van!
Seeing other clubs running as different teams and solos it seems ideal for some.Massey racing fun.
So I packed early… Learning from Mary’s error I checked camping kit twice. Learning from my running kit issues; I checked that 3 times! I even purchased a brand new tent for the event – still a black out tent but smaller and possible to pitch by one person. I even had a tent race in the garden with my son to practice. I even went so far as putting everything in the car, in order I would need it out to set my tent up, so I could go straight from work.
As I lay in bed smug in my perfect organisation I decided to enter the postcode into Google maps to have a vague idea of how long it would take. So I looked for the e-mailed race instructions.
I found none!
In fact the search term didn’t bring up any mention of ‘Cider.’. Not even a race entry!
It had been in my diary since last September when I thought I entered all the White Star Running events via a season ticket (GHM and Dorchester separate!) But a little investigation and a Facebook post got the unfortunate answer…
I hadn’t entered the event!
Unlike days of old when you could still enter on the day most WSR events are highly popular – well, I recommend them as they are great events – and had sold out!
There was a slim chance I could grab a no show 10 minutes before the start. I didn’t even realise there was a reserve list for even this… Had I realised and realised I was 6th my decision might have been more easily made.
Travel down and hope – Stay and do some parkrun tourism with my girls.
I decided to risk it.
If all else failed I had cheap camping. (if you ignore the cost of the new tent!). Which I had booked! And I could just drive to a parkrun and do that instead!
So it was I arrived on site clueless as to whether I would be racing or parkrunning.
The new tent was pitched to perfection in less than 10 minutes – much to the disappointment of some on lookers. But they did enjoy the team of runners next to me trying and failing repeatedly to erect their tent.
After a chat over an elderflower cordial (I don’t drink!) in the marquee I was ready for an early night. The struggling tent pitchers were celebrating their successful pitch over a few cans… possibly a few less before the pitching would have helped?
I did question my sense of pitching in the party field as I lay my head down on my pillow but soon I was happily asleep oblivious to all around me.
At 6:30am, I had visited the Dorset Meats stall and was happily devouring a tasty bacon and egg sandwich – the vegan porridge wasn’t yet ready! And I didn’t want to leave it much later to eat.
With a weather forecast of ‘Scorchio’ set for the day and the temperature already in the 20s I basted myself in Factor 30 P20. In fact I followed the instructions to the letter and dried off and re applied – sun burn wasn’t going to be an issue.
Dressed to run (parkrun or a frolic) I headed to the registration tent to be told I would need to wait. As runners gathered for the race briefing and congratulations to first timers and 100th Marathoners I was still numberless – at 7:58 with a ‘Well I guess they aren’t going to turn up now!’ I got a number just in time to get a satellite signal on my watch before the ‘Go’.
So along with lots of pirates (that was the dressing up theme of the race – it’s a White Star thing!) I started my Garmin and set off around the course.
Being a WSR event you expect hills – Dorset isn’t a flat county! – but it wasn’t too bad or even too many of them and all the downhills were runnable. Even for those like me, who lack the technical descending skills of a mountain goat.
The picturesque route circumnavigated the outside of crop fields, paths had been freshly cut into the long grass or wheat fields all well marked with arrows no chance of getting lost later on as runner numbers reduce. To ensure there was no need for an extra 3.5 mile loop to get to marathon distance the first loop added in a diversion around another field to make up the distance.
The way the route wound around fields meant you could see runners at different points around the course and hear the music from the infamous lovestation way before you arrived and after you left.
The only one issue was beyond the control of the organiser – the weather! During the day the weather moved from hot, to baking to roasting and onto searing. Despite running alongside hedges from different angles there never appeared to be shade – I am not even sure how this is possible!
The Lovestation is integral part of WSR events, on a one lap marathon you only get one chance to savour the tasty treats – gherkins and watermelon as well as the usual fare of jelly sweets, mini sausages cakes and crisps. But on multiple laps you get multiple visits. You could visit Fernando’s bar (Yes… Cider and Cocktails are given out!) and dance on the stage 7 times in this marathon. Thankfully I am teetotal so I didn’t risk climbing on to the stage to bust some moves!
The Lovestation has been my point of saviour in WSR events before… Unfortunately, Andrew on the Lovestation now refers to me as Nipples Man!
It again came to my rescue, not with dressings and surgical tape for my savaged body parts but with vats of water and sponges to douse myself or be drenched by a volunteer with the offer of a wet hug. – Feel the Love at the Lovestation. Despite drenching my hat it dried before returning to the start of the lap! Good wicking material or hot weather!
After two laps I realised that in the heat and the amount I was sweating, a few cups of water every few miles wouldn’t be enough to avoid meeting the medics again. I met them at the start and seeing my Mr Bump vest they did comment that they hope it was just for humour. So I took a bottle of electrolytes from my drop pack at the start and ran on carrying it. Each lap taking another bottle – I did claim I was prepared.
On my third lap I started to notice woollen items:- pompoms, knitted bunting and a snake… I did wonder if I had missed them the first two laps around. Having missed Windsor Castle at Upton Court parkrun, and Tewkesbury Abbey the third biggest in England on each of the three laps at Tewkesbury it was entirely possible. After chatting to a runner from Sarum Sisters I discovered they had Yarn Boomed the course during the Frolic.
Being laps and running slowly meant you get used to being overtaken – sometimes repeatedly by the same person or by a relay runner charging past on fresh legs squeaking their rubber pig baton and offering words of encouragement.
WSR events are always friendly and on laps for a while you can find yourself running (or walking) along with another runner enjoying a natter, catching up with runners you have met at other events or having a good old moan about the weather. How very English! This supportive cheery chit chat really helps keep you going for yet another lap.
After hobbling in over the line for my last lap – I went to get my number credited to me. I am not sure the person whose number I had originally would want my slow time on their record but if I plan to make the 100 club I need the time officially! But whilst I had been on the course it had all been sorted by the fab team at WSR and Full-on-sport – apart from my age, I think I am happy to stay 10 years younger!
The temporary showers for the camping and post race wash are hot and powerful. Possibly better than my shower at home. Mid scream from finding a newly chaffed body part I heard the rest of the field join in my cries. I thought it was empathetic stretching but later realised it was actually the first England goal being scored!
These races and camping before, during and after are great fun and really well organised even if I am not!
It would be amazing if at the next Frolic we could get a mass of Massey out running as a team or solo. I should be running as these are included on my season ticket. However, I possibly won’t be running if I have failed to book Mary onto any of the races as my running shoes may mysteriously disappear up a body orifice! So whilst you have spent ages reading this novella I am frantically checking race bookings to see if I will make it to 20 years of marriage!