Wimpole 10 – aka “The Hoohaah: the Golden Girls’ quest for a 10 mile race”
By Helen Rowe
Cal and I have been on a quest to find a 10 mile run for ‘The Spreadsheet’. We signed up for Double or Quit in Heanor, Derbyshire, on 25th August 2018. However, 2.5 miles into that run, Cal went flying, and ended up with gravel in her hands, and her elbow. We decided to Quit at 5 miles given her injuries, so that meant we needed to find another 10mile race.
Rugby 10 is on the WRRL listing of course, but given the rudeness of the organiser last year when I raised the issue of their inflexibility on the expected finish time (1 hour 45 minutes), and the fact that they were not being inclusive, we could not/would not sign up for that one.
Options left included Thorsby 10, which is on 21st October, the day after the Barn Dance, and the week before Dublin Marathon. We deemed this one unsuitable. Derby 10 is scheduled for 25th November, but that wasn’t an option either, as I will be away on holiday. We decided that The Sneyd Pudding Race is too late in the year – especially if like last year, it gets postponed due to bad weather. So we scoured the country.
I found Wimpole 10 miles (and Half Marathon), organised by Hoohaah. After booking up, I realised it was further away than I had thought, so that meant we either had to leave very early in the morning, or go the night before. The night before was it! I found a B&B nearby called Avondale, but the photos weren’t very enticing. Then I found a nice B&B called The Coach House. I booked it on Booking.com. Then Cal said she had found it cheaper on Expedia. I had seen it on Expedia too, so I cancelled it on Booking.com, and booked it on Expedia. The following day I checked the reviews, and discovered there were ‘issues’ with The Coach House Hotel – which turned out to be a different Coach House to the one on Booking.com – but was only 5 miles away. I cancelled the one on Expedia, and I rang the one on Booking.com directly, but she had no more vacancies, as someone else had snapped the room up when I cancelled it. The owner kindly gave me the name of some other B&Bs close by. I rang one – Magnolia House in Royston. Sue was the proprietor, and she sounded very nice. I booked a family room, with en-suite facilities.
Cal picked me up at 5.00pm, as she had a Pirate Party in the afternoon (better not to ask too many questions). We set off down the A45/M45/M1. We found the B&B with no problem, and we carried our bags up the narrow stairs to an attic room. We arranged with Sue to have breakfast at 7.45am, and she said she could do porridge for us. We settled in to watch TV before turning in for the night. Cal managed to bump her head on the dormer window walls several times during the evening, whilst I was worried I was going to strangle myself in the night on my cables for my watch and phone. Cal was asleep by 10.30pm, but I had a problem with insomnia again, and it was after 2.00am before I got to sleep.
The alarm went off at 6.45am. We got up and made tea/coffee, and then washed and dressed. We went down for breakfast, and were on the road by 8.20am for the 15 minute drive to Wimpole Estate (NT). We parked as directed in the long grass, picked up our packs, queued for the porta loos. Then one of the organisers came and said that the toilets in the stable block were now open, so a number of us left the queue and went to the stable block. Mistake – the queue there was just as long, but for only 3 toilets, and we only just about made it to the start line in time for the start.
There were two races taking place at the same time – a 10 mile and a Half Marathon. Cal had kindly offered to stay with me for the run. We were very soon at the back of the pack, with a man who was run/walking the half marathon, and a lovely tail runner called Abby. The route took us on three loops, around fields, through woods, along tracks, past the ruins of a gothic folly, and up a really wicked hill, and past Wimpole Hall, finishing close by.
After the race we spent some time looking around the courtyard of the stable block, where they had shops and stalls, and the Church, and the Hall itself, which was most imposing.
The journey home was not without incident. As we travelled up the M1, we spotted a green car ahead on the hard shoulder. He then pulled out in front of us very slowly, and Cal had to break hard to stop from hitting him, as she could not pull out to overtake him due to traffic. He had something hanging down in the car, between him in the driver seat and the back seat, like a blanket, which meant he could not see through his rear view mirror. He then moved into the middle lane, where proceeded to sit, doing 60 mph, and other cars were “weaving” to get around him. Cal decided to get as far away from him as she could, as he was clearly a danger to other drivers.
Cal Oddy: 2.:14:49
Helen Rowe: 2:20:46 (PB)