Belvoir Challenge – 23 February 2013
I don't know why this is pronounced “beaver”, I didn't see any… I think it's called a challenge because of the stiles and by the end, you wonder if you'll get your leg over. Enough, already! This event is cross-country, with most being fields (20%), ploughed fields (20%), grassy footpaths (20%), mud (5%) and what would have been mud (25%). Why not mud? Well the previous 4-5days had all been dry, cold, easterlies so half the mud had dried up. The other half was frozen, since the overnight had been -2°C, and the day only reached 0°C. By far my coldest marathon, but since it was dry and virtually no wind, it felt quite pleasant. There were no instructions for the route (a map was available online and on the day), but the way was extremely well marked with red and white tape. This gave the opportunity for some quick times. The first home was 3:11 which is very speedy. 5 were sub 3:30, 27 were sub 4hrs, 125 were sub 5hrs. A total of 284 did the 26miles, of which about 220 ran, the rest walked. There was also a 15 mile route which around 300 ran and 500 walked. Scenery was very good, even on a dull day, with splendid views of Belvoir Castle. There were 5 checkpoints on the 26 mile route, well stocked with squash, sandwiches and cakes. Hot drinks were available for walkers. I sampled 7 cakes: Chocolate sponge with choc chips; ginger; carrot cake; another choc sponge without choc chips; fruit cake; malt loaf and two slices of banana cake with apricots. As long as you run fairly gently afterwards, you don't seem to get a stitch. Oh, I also sampled some chopped mars bars and a tuna sarnie. And after the finish, there was soup and bread rolls washed down with tea, followed by rhubarb crumble and custard. I had difficulty doing up my seatbelt when I got back to the car, there was so much food. The walk back to the car was a bit of a distance, in fact my only minor gripe was the parking and directions, once in the village of Harby. There were plenty of spaces available, but directions were very poor.
Overall, a brilliant event, definitely one to repeat. I would expect other years to be very, very, very muddy, though, this year being the exception to a rule.
My time: a reasonable 5:24:57, considering the number (20+) and height of stiles, and a couple of bottlenecks in the first few miles.
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