Ed: Keith Gilbert reports on an off-road event in South Kent:
On Sunday [ 12 June] I ran in The Hamstreet 10K. Hamstreet is a village set about 7 miles south of Ashford, Kent on the edge of Romney Marsh. The race itself was ran mainly through Hamstreet Woods, a National Nature Reserve. 2 laps of a course through woodland tracks and trails, with very muddy and slippery parts owing to recent heavy rainfall.
It was a completely new race organized by Nice Work who are adding some interesting events to the Kent and Sussex Calendar.
Fortunately I am no stranger to such terrain since I do most of my training on woodland trails. I find you get a better cardiovascular workout mile for mile than straight road running. I find it also strengthens those vulnerable areas around the lower legs, not to mention the wonderful sensory experiences free from traffic harassment.
So I found it a particularly exhilarating run. Treading your way through a constantly changing terrain of rocks, tree roots, mud as well as the exuberant foliage sometimes growing out at head level.
On the final stage, a lap around Hamstreet Village Green to HQ I became involved in a friendly sprint to the finish with another runner, beating him to the finish line by 2 seconds. It’s amazing what reserves you can find at the end of a race when you have a specific challenge.
Considering the terrain I was hoping to come in under 60 minutes, but was quite pleased to be given a time of 55:37, 104th out of 220 finishers. Incidentally, the day before was The Big Wheel of Kent cycling festival, with Canterbury at its hub. I chose to do a shorter 20 mile ride as I was running the following day, but I don’t know if it had a beneficial or adverse effect on my run.