Race Report by Cathy Keay
The first running of this race looked very exciting, the chance to do a trail half in the relatively flat Sherwood Forest, and maybe stumble across Robin Hood and his Merry Men was too good to miss.
Unfortunately, the pre-race information was a bit sparse and when an email asked for extra marshals a week before it was a bit worrying, but even more worrying was the email 24-hours later stating that the race was cancelled due to lack of volunteers. Myself and Natalie moaned and groaned and looked for an additional race to do on Sunday – and then surprise surprise another email arrived and it was all back on !!!! Did this bode well for organised chaos !!!
Anyway we duly arrived at Sherwood Pines on Sunday, which has a visitors centre, café and “Go Ape”, there was a lack of runners around but we soon found the bib collection in a tent. Natalie was intending to do a few extra miles before the main run as part of her Trail Marathon training. So off she went, hoping not to get lost in the forest !!
The place was getting busier, it is a huge mountain bike centre so there were loads of cyclists whizzing around, Mark had come along too and was planning a mountain bike adventure after taking the dogs for a long walk !!
Anyway 10:30 came and Natalie had luckily arrived back, we made our way to the start, where the race director apologised for all the confusion earlier in the week, and that he wasn’t part of the organising committee so don’t blame him ! A quick briefing, and an explanation to follow the red arrows and don’t worry there were lots of marshals on the course and we were off.
The first miles followed gravel tracks through the huge pine forest, and a few slopes but no hills. Then at 3 miles we had to launch ourselves down an extremely steep slope, that some navigated on their bottoms, and the real trail began – we were running along the bed of a stream, with sloppy mud either side (just like xc), there were screams from those wearing brand new road shoes who hadn’t read the race instructions properly !!!
At four miles the stream finished and we faced a T junction (with no red arrow to follow), I turned right to follow the people in front of me – after half a mile I noticed that people were coming back towards me saying “we’ve gone wrong, turn around” !!! so I did, and noticed that most of those behind me had in fact turned left. So for the next mile or so all these fast runners that had gone wrong came muttering past me !!! at least I’d only added about 0.4 to my distance. I knew that Natalie hadn’t been far behind me, but was now in front of me, and it took until mile 9 for me to catch her up !
The next few miles were through the forest dodging fallen trees, slippy tree roots, and mad cyclists whizzing by !!! We then ran through a scruffy part that looked like it was a local fly tipping area. Mile 8-9 was a lovely soft trail through the pine trees, but then we hit soft deep sand for the next half mile that was like running through sand dunes !! very tough and energy sapping.
The final miles were a long slog to get back to the finish, long long tracks that you could see miles ahead of you, these were rough trail paths with bright white gravel and hundreds of pine cones that seem to suck all the energy out of your legs. At the end of one of these long long tracks I spotted the red finish arch and knew it was nearly all over !! a final corner, and little sprint on some grass and I’d finished.
After the chip was cut off my shoe, I was presented with a great medal, a nice red t-shirt, water, banana and the best tasting doughnut ever !!! Natalie wasn’t far behind me.
Overall it was well organised, the marshals from Notts Ladies Running Club, who stepped in at the last minute, were very enthusiastic and great at the water stations. Others who did an extra 1-1.5 miles due to the lack of an arrow or marshal were moaning a bit, but at least they got value for money.