Sunday, 20 October 2013

Caesar's Camp Endurance Run - Race Report

The end of an era as we see the last of the Caesar's Camp Endurance Run series come to a finish. These events are organised by the big character, Henk; if you don't see Henk first,you will hear him as every profanity is expressed to anyone who dares mess up his race and checkpoints. The man is a legend, I like to see him as hard but not cruel and anyone who does not see that will get his sharp tongue berating them for whatever misdeed Henk declares.

With runs come big shoulders and such sideline entertainment all part of the event. Hearing that this was the last one ever I found out that there was a place going up for grabs but for the 100 mile event and bought it via a web forum. I got my confirmed place although I had no intention of running the 100 but down changing during the event as is allowed by the rules, I chose to down change to 30 miles as I had to get back to assist the family with my ailing Father who was in hospital with a heart attack.

On arriving at Caesar's Camp it was party season as we all ran around and gave hugs and catch up with old and new trail friends. It was not 5 minutes before Henk was on the war path screaming out for two runners who had been rude or something, we stood back to watch the entertainment unfold, vintage Henk.

The Race.

The course, at the best of times, is hard:
  • 10 mile loop.
  • No road crossings, all trail. About half of the course is tree covered, the other half is heathland.
  • Fully marked and first laps marshalling at crucial points and lightsticks at night.
  • Altitude gain 1520ft per lap.
  • Underfoot conditions can be described as from quite nice to downright brutal. 
The weather has been wet of recent and there was promise of more during the following 24 hours.

Not  a goal race for me but one to get some hard trail in my legs and to chase away the demons of CCER 2009 I happily plodded out knowing that some of the hares ahead of me would flounder and fall as the hills and conditions paid their tolls. The first ascent just takes your breath away as you climb 60 metres over loose flint and wet sand as all conversation comes to a halt as we puff and pant to the top to heathland and beyond. This could be a race run where I talked about every up and down but that would take a boring read over 30 miles but you can look at the profile below and get a feeling of what was in store for each lap:

As I ran along I caught up with other people I knew and had caught up with what had been happening, shouted banter and teased each other, everything to keep our minds off some of the bigger climbs. I reached the first checkpoint in a perfectly timed 64 minutes which was my planned pace of doing the first lap in about 2 hours and then let off the pace and run at a pace my legs allowed, I wasn't their to prove a thing.

Reaching the end of lap one I ran over to my car to get some refills of my favourite drink, grab a gel and a cookie to join the others in the race tent. Having been in there for a few minutes I chatted with Allan to then be screamed at by Henk, called every name under sun and verbally ejected from said tent, the two of us howling with laughter and then Jennifer shouting some more as we ran up the big ascent again.

Stories of runners pulling out already some injured, some apparently vomiting on the sides which was a general theme of the run. At about 17 miles I began to feel down as a horrible malaise swept over me possibly from the events of the week or just the tiring effect of the run but I was beginning to feel as though I needed to give in at the end of the lap, that is until I was caught up by Gil. Gil is amazing who dragged me up by my shoe laces and we ran together as we immersed ourselves in chat which soon saw us running to the end of the lap with him calling to me to remember my headtorch.

 Lap 3

My pace was down now  but sufficient to keep me sweating in the humid air as the rain came back to freshen the already trampled paths which now became dangerous on the descents and trippy in the woodland areas, some sections just gloop, I was wishing now that I could have gone another lap but I wanted to leave this with good feelings.

I was in the dark now and no one was around the way was marked by glow sticks placed at line of sight so it was just a matter of looking up and see it in the distance. The spookiest thing was there were no night time animals that I could sense possibly because this was MOD property and they had been blown up or were just sensible to not enter the area!!!  

The End

I ran into the finish area with two loan supporters whooping and clapping from a car window, a security man (guarding a film set) shouting a solitary well done to the finish tent and officially handed my race number to the Race Director Henk who smiled, shook my hand and ushered me into the tent for a cup of coffee. He then returned to outside to swear at a few runners and I departed feeling as happy as Larry.

I did well today and happy with my efforts.

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