This is a race report for the 2015 Caythorpe Dash.
Useful information about the race.
The Caythorpe Dash, Caythorpe, Lincolnshire, UK.
Mostly off-road/trail/track half marathon. 4 person (2 man, 2 woman) teams with aggregated times or solo.
1st February 2015
Mid morning, 11:00 start.
Dry, cold air temperature (only just above freezing) with a fresh northerly breeze bringing in quite a wind chill. Broken cloud.
Road was mostly dry; trail and track were occasionally muddy with puddles. Course profile was largely flat for the first 16 km after an initial drop, followed by a hillier last 5 km or so.
Details on taking part in the race.
The race took place in quite a pleasant part of the county that I was not too familiar with. The roads on which the race occasionally happened upon were very quiet. The food provided at the end was amazing.
Start slowly and not worry too much about position in the race. Move up the ranks later if I still had the energy.
Being that this was my first half marathon, it was a case making it to the end. My previous longest distance had been 17 kilometers.
Right from the start I really enjoyed this race; it was to be a really positive experience from beginning to end. It was the first event where I was taking part as a member of a four person team, my club having entered a total of four teams. In terms of strategy, the team I was in had one simple aim - every team member to make their own way to the end. That was fine by me as I did not want to be slowing anyone else down!
The first leg of the race headed out across fields in a vaguely easterly direction. For pretty much the entire duration of this leg we were accompanied by a biting northerly wind, which after a while, started to make my face feel like it was freezing. Even though I had bare legs (and got the occasional incredulous comment regarding this), they remained warm as they were doing all the work. There was the occasional bit of relief when, sheltered from the wind by a hedge or a stand of trees, one could feel the vague warmth of a weak and watery winter sun. We continued along an assortment of mud tracks, field edges and minor roads until it came time to turn left towards the south.
The next leg went from track to minor road and rose into the small village of Stubton where water was being dispensed by a couple of particularly hardy looking marshals, given the conditions. I managed to both drink and breathe the water, which gave them something to chuckle about. From there, road sloped gently away down the rise and from the village and I decided to step up the pace a little to try and make a little time up while the going was good. This leg did not last too long before turning vaguely eastwards, where the cold wind was once more cutting at right angles across my onward progress.
It was on this longer leg that the race took on the feel of a cross country again, with mud tracks and the edges of ploughed fields forming the majority of the terrain underfoot. It was in this direction too, that the Lincoln Edge began looming into view, and I was left thinking that at some point a certain amount of vertical ascent was going to be required. Approaching the hill, I caught sight of a pair of Caistor Running Club vests in the distance and decided to put my foot down and catch them up. It really mentally lifted me to see some familiar faces after quite a long time without. We trudged up the hill together, comparing notes on the run so far. I think that the consensus was 'good fun so far, and looking forward to the sausages, crumble and bread & butter pudding'. It was at this point that I realised that I was now in uncharted territory as far as distance was concerned: I had run as far as I had ever run in my life, and there were still kilometres to go.
From the top of the hill, I followed a small and winding lane flanked by trees up to the small hamlet of Gelston. This, then, formed the start of the final north-easterly leg of the race and elevation-wise was the highest point on the course at a staggering 85 metres according to the GPS. The route cut across a small depression with a river and a footbridge at the bottom before climbing out into more open gently undulating fields. At this point the cold and penetrating wind had started to become a defining feature once again. Crossing a couple of stiles brought me to the aptly named hill top village of Hough-on-the-Hill. Here was another water stop, near the village church, manned by some more hardy volunteers, and water was once again gratefully received.
The final leg continued through the church yard, down a cobbled alley and on to a road out of the village for the final 2.5 km across the fields towards the finish line in Caythorpe. I think that this last stretch was probably the hardest of the lot, with quite a head wind and a number of stiles to cross; one of the stiles collapsed under my weight and I caught myself on some barbed wire, but no damage done! Finally, Caythorpe came into view and with it a small burst of energy. A couple of streets and an alleyway later and it was all over. I'd crossed the line in 2 hours and 6 minutes with some great support from a happy bunch of CRC runners at the finish, feeling very pleased that I'd managed to make the distance.
It was my first HM and the support from my CRC friends was superb - I couldn't have asked for more. The sausages and bread & butter pudding were just the right thing after a two hour run in the cold. The ladies serving the food and drink in the Caythorpe cricket pavilion did a wonderful job, and the event would be a far poorer affair without their support.
I would struggle to think of any cons at this point, so I'll pass.
The excellent post race food, marshalling and course organisation gives this event a healthy 5/5.
I feel that my strategy to make up some time on the road sections of this race worked quite well. Being that this was my first HM, I was a little tentative and conscious not to burn out too early. Knowing what I do now, I hope that I can take on a fully road based HM in well under two hours.