Riverbank Rollick 8.7 mile race 2010
There was an Englishman, an Irishman and a Welshman - sounds like the first line of a gag served up by a seventies commedian but actually it's the Sri Chinmoy AC team entry for the Riverbank Rollick. I'm always up for a muddy race, and being keen to get race fit again after a bad, bad winter I decided to have a crack at this trail race that claims to have "more mud than the Sodbury Slog". I had with me Sadanand from Ireland and Abichal from Wales to make up a Sri Chinmoy club team - something you don't see that often around these parts, as we tend to focus on different things (Abichal and clubmate Mark are ultradistance chaps usually).
At the start I couldn't help thinking I had stepped into a rural scene from a postcard or placemat - a trackway by a meadow in the shadow of old castle walls and a church, the bells rining out on a sunny sunday morning and mist floating over the woods and fields. There was lots of animated chatter as runners rolled up from the HQ a half mile away, and after an inaudible attempt at a briefing (very brief) we were off up the track, some two to three hundred of us, jostling for position on the narrow course. Soon things opened out and we splashed through deep standing water on a field edge, before the first of many styles and kissing-gates.
It was cold and bright above, and muddy and wet below, perfect conditions for a trail run. I got through mile one in six thirty and started fancying a sub-1 hour finish but that was to be the only quick mile of the race for me - partly as the conditions got hillier and muddier and the styles and gates led to a little queuing, but also because my optimism had outstripped my fitness! I ran hard as I could all the way round, walking the steepest of the short climbs and slowing for the technical section through a wood (one hip-high log to get over and again many fences/styles).
Despite my efforts though I was slowing and Sadanand breezed past me at mile 6 to beat me by a minute - nice to see the back of another Sri Chinmoy vest though. Mid race we had a long, flat cruise by the Severn with great views of the bridge, the Sri Chinmoy Peace Bridge as it was designated twenty odd years ago - and the site of the bridge in the sunlight was enough to keep my inspiration levels up. Once I'd blown up though there was no getting the energy back and the last three miles were just hanging on. Still, great to race again, great to get wet and muddy in the process (the finish is through a stream - a nice punch line) and great to start racing "proper" again after a few months out. Bring on the next one (Moorland MT 10k a week later)!
Results and pics are at:
As for "more mud than Sodbury", well, about the same I'd say. There was lots of water and lots of deep mud, but the fields are grassy (as opposed to the heavy going over ploughed fields at Sodbury) so I'd say the Slog has the edge on toughness. I did love the course though - a pure trail race for lovers of field and footpath. Abichal had one slip on a style which slightly pulled a muscle, but I guess that's an occupational hazard.