Petts Wood 10KMR editor Danny meets an old mate of the mag for a muddy run through the woods
Sunday 14 October 2012Kent, garden of England, home to Bob Holness, Rod Hull and the leafy, well-to-do village of Petts Wood, the place William Willett called home. He was a champion for daylight saving, in case you were wondering, so it was fitting that the sun was splitting the stones for the annual Petts Wood 10K on Sunday. Earlier this year we helped MR reader Ray Sievey to a new marathon PB as part of Project 26.2, and he kindly returned the favour by inviting us down to his running club’s annual race. With a field of over 600 runners and a course that took in road and trail it was a chance to tackle one of the country’s most highly regarded 10Ks and it didn’t disappoint. Pre-race we were greeted by a man in a gorilla suit, the relevance of which I’m still unsure, and there was a chance to warm up with the teachers from a local dance studio. A generous estimate would put the willing participants at 50, including some sheepish looking blokes. The gorilla loped over to my daughter brandishing a banana. She nuzzled her head in my neck. I can’t say I blame her. I slotted myself into the second wave of runners – the 45-50 minute brigade – and after a speech by a special guest called Colin who draws cartoons for the local paper, we set off from the Willett Recreation Ground into the well heeled surrounding streets. The first 3km were all on road but as soon as we entered the woodland to tackle a taxing slope things got tougher. Heavy rain in the previous days made the route through the trees extremely boggy and at several stages it was wiser to pick your way around the menacing puddles than splash straight through. The course was well marshaled by the club’s members and the last couple of kilometres through the woods sloped nicely downhill before spitting us back out onto the tarmac for the run to the finish. Ray had cruelly assigned me race bib No.1 which drew some surprised remarks that I wasn’t at the head of the field from a number of supporters out on the course. Not wanting to stop and explain, I attempted a shrug of the shoulders that probably just made my running style look even less graceful than usual. I got round in 47mins 25secs and gratefully accepted my medal and banana from the gorilla, wondering if a drier day in the woods might have seen me break 46. There’s always next year to find out. I’ll be back.
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