The Brent Knoll Race 2001  

The Brent Knoll Race 2001

Tom Woodman

Quick trip up the Motorway yesterday to the Brent Knoll race. Don't know who Brent Knoll actually was, possibly related to Don Valley?

Anyway, the race is 5.5 milesish, out along some level bits, up the Knoll (450'?), loop round the top, back down again (also 450'?) and return the same way to the start.

It's a race I'd meant to do for a while, as the hill is so visible from the M5. It is also cunningly designed to exploit my three main running weaknesses; running on the flat, running uphill, and running downhill.

The couple of miles level at the start were reasonably muddy, but apparently not as good as last year when they were knee deep. Shame. The first 400m looped round the edge of a field, and as people gradually realised there were no corner markers, the pattern of runners became more circular than square.

Once you've done the muddy lanes, a short road section takes you to the first vertical climb up a long grassy bank. Going up on hands and knees, found it quite perturbing to think about running back down again. On the second vertical climb the lead runners started coming down next to you, which was an experience.

Major views from the top, over the Bristol channel possibly including Wales/whales. Stagger in the wind round the edge of the iron age fort, bit like Dorset's Maiden Castle but smaller (another race on my to-do list).

Back down the way you've come now, and you're encountering other runners still on the way up. Trying to descend recklessly, but you're going down a dead straight, narrow, steeply downing muddy/slippery path, with uphill runners on your left, and an electric fence on your right. Whoops, mind the stile.

Down the last bit of hill, the long grassy bank, and my stumble turns into a reasonably graceful cartwheel affair, coating each side of me evenly in bits of Somerset. All that's left now is plodding back on the level to the finish. Slightly difficult to motivate myself to really push on this last couple of miles, and lost a couple of places but picked up one of them again in a final sprint.

48:04 for 5.5 miles, though the time seemed rather longer. Since my summer layoff my races have been the Grizzly, Castle Drogo 10 and now this, and I can confirm that the shorter the race, the slower that time passes. God knows what the 100m is like.

© Tom Woodman, 2001