I’d signed myself up for the Bedgebury Forest Half Marathon as I decided I needed experience of a few ‘races’ to incorporate into my training as it’s a very different experience running alongside lots of other people (plus running without a dog!). I chose this one as I know what a lovely place Bedgebury Forest is and a non-road race is definitely more my preference. However, I was a bit worried by the prospect of hills as all of my runs are pancake flat! The description of the course was “The route uses the undulating trails, bridleways and footpaths within Bedgebury Forest & Pinetum, which is primarily hard track, though sections to the north of the route will be muddy in some parts and there are sections on grass at the start. It isn’t a flat route but an undulating course with a few challenging inclines and, naturally, some downhill.”
I was thankful for the pretty much perfect weather conditions on the day- very cold but sunny. I arrived and promptly joined the portaloo queue, starting my stretches whilst waiting. Then, within in a few minutes we were ushered to the start line and the gun was fired. I really didn’t have a time in mind as I wasn’t sure how I’d manage with a hilly course and genuinely just wanted to enjoy it so went off in a positive and relaxed frame of mind.
The route was beautiful and I tried to take a few photos (whilst running- hence some are on the blurry side!) and just generally soaked up the views all around.
It was mainly pretty good under foot but I’m certainly pleased I wore my trail shoes as some sections were muddy (particularly on the second loop after hundreds of runners had gone through!) and it was also fairly uneven/rocky in places. This photo was taken rather precariously as I ran down this steep, muddy hill!
Some of the hills were incredibly hard going but I was determined to run the whole thing so, with each hill, it was a case of just putting my head down and pushing on and I was really proud of myself for doing so as quite a few others were walking up the inclines. I also kept saying to myself “what goes up must come down!” and was duly rewarded with some lovely downhill stretches to recover my legs. There was also a lovely section all around a lake with gorgeous autumn colours and lots of people cheering from the cafe which gave me a little boost.
The end of the course was brutal to say the least: a huge hill which seemed never-ending but, again, I kept running and telling myself this was the last push and was delighted when I heard my name called over the tannoy congratulating me on finishing! It wasn’t the furthest I’ve ever run but definitely the hardest so I’m pleased that I did it and it showed me how mentally strong I can be when I need to (I’m sure I’m going to need that mental strength for the marathon!).
My chip time was 2:09:57 which I was really pleased with as the only other official race I’ve ever done was the Lydd half marathon a few years ago which I did in 2:05 and that was a pancake flat course! The medal is pretty too 🙂
If you’d like to help towards my London marathon fundraising target for Dogs Trust it would be very much appreciated (by me and the doggies!). Click here for the link to my JustGiving page where you can donate. Thank you! 🙂