Eltham Park 5 miles multi-terrain, 10 June

Report form Peter Simpson on the event in South-East London

From left: Theresa Webb, Andrew Knight, Matt Woodman
(independent vegan) & Peter Simpson

The fast finishing Theresa overtakes in closing stages.

Matt Woodman collects his prize as overall race winner

VRUK selected the Eltham Park 5 miles multi-terrain event as a target for members and contacts in the London region. We returned to this localized event after last year’s experience. An attractive area with parkland and various woods nearby. The route itself for the five miles covered Eltham Park South and Shepherdleas Wood with little in the way of climbing. Runners repeated the course twice helping you to become familiar with the area.

Last year it was rather wet and windy but this year conditions were near to perfection just a little on the warm side.There had of course been a lot of rain in the week leading up to the event but there was hardly any evidence just a little mud in the woods and softened ground.

On the day we were fortunate to have the presence of Andrew Knight, also Theresa Webb returned from last year and enjoys runs in the woods. This was my third appearance at this event, unfortunately last year I suffered a calf strain and retired. Matt Woodman, the independent vegan runner who regularly contributes on the Facebook Vegan Runners (International Group) was also returning for his third race after achieving 2nd and 6th in the previous two events.

We all met up prior to the start  made easy given it is generally a small event with not more than 300 entrants. Lining up at the start we suddenly felt the warmth on our bodies. I noticed a very young girl maybe under 10 years lining up on the start line alongside the likes of Matt. We covered about a lap and a half of the park before heading out into the woods. Returning to training at the beginning of May and a break due to a cold meant I would not be at my best so eased into the race. Andrew, I assumed would be competitive following his build-up to the Karrimor Great Trail Challenge (half marathon) a week later in Cumbria. It was not a surprise when he overtook me soon after the start and quickly disappeared into the distance. I could see Matt head to head with another competitor which was a good sign. By the time we passed close to the start again I recall overtaking that very young girl. My legs were feeling on the tired side but I appeared to be holding my place.

Slowly but surely I moved up the field but was breathing a little heavily. Fortunately it was a relatively flat course. Given my slowish start I thought I would have been well back in the field compared to two years ago but the field of runners appeared to be smaller. On the 2nd lap I was still breathing heavily but still moving up the field. Crossing the bridge for the last time and back into the park I pushed on despite the long run to the finish, overtaking a few more. I was feeling quite exhausted at the finish, crossing the line under 36 mins, about what I anticipated. I appreciated the cheers from Andrew & Matt. Andrew was looking very pleased with his outcome, under 34 mins and incredibly was 10th which at first I couldn’t believe. Andrew also informed me that Matt had won the race in just over 29 mins, in keeping with his other achievements this year. Great news for Matt and confirmation that vegans can and do win events.

With Theresa to finish I quickly set-up the camera and Theresa did not disappoint with a sprint finish, overtaking her nearest rivals. We all came together for group photos and stayed for the presentation and in particular to witness Matt collecting his prize. Apart from the small field, the only other disappointment the number of VRUK members & contacts from the London area supporting the meet-up, replacing our normal monthly training run.

Confirmation of VRUK results:

Andrew Knight   33:51,  10th / 157
Peter Simpson    35:42,   23rd
Theresa Webb    45:42,   98th

Indpendent Vegan Runner:

Matt Woodman   Race Winner in 29:09