Last Saturday I ran the Tough 10 race at Box Hill. The Tough races are a series of events organised by Cancer Research UK and the clue is in the name. There are three grades – Tough, tougher and toughest. Box Hill is toughest.
I kind of knew what I was taking on because my first trail run back in the summer was partly on Box Hill. The difficulty is that there are steps. Many many steps. 275 apparently. But not only are they steps, there are steps of different heights and widths and depths so it’s tricky to get into a rhythm. Anyway, I was cajoled into entering by Michele (@Whiffenpuff) and, before I knew it, race day was here.
There was a little gang of #ukrunchat folk there, with four of us dressed as unicorns. The start line was a chilly affair, as usual with too few toilets. However, our cockles were soon partially warmed by Michele’s 9.30am Sloe Gin shots. This is how I discovered that I Do Like Gin (having spent all of my life thinking I didn’t). A small delay, and off we went.
Down the road and into the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is Box Hill. And it is. But, boy oh boy, do those steps totally and utterly hurt. A lot. But you know, it really was worth the hurt. We got to the top of the hill and met a man dressed as a fox. Of course we did.
Then there was lots of lovely down. Then we trotted along for a bit, and the marshals are great. Then there was a weird up and down in the same place bit. I think at this point they were just trying to add an extra “tough” bit in. It worked. It was muddy and anyone not in trail shoes was really struggling. I was wearing my new Columbia Montrail Bajada IIIs and I highly recommend them. Super grippy and very comfortable!
The camaraderie on the route was pretty good too. A lady was crying, so I asked her if she wanted a hug. She said no but could I shout at her to belt up and carry on. I’m an obedient soul, so I did. Quite loudly. If anyone was near us and heard they would have wondered what on earth I was doing.
Just over four miles in there was the most amazing downhill stretch, where you could really let go and fly down the hill. I really loved that bit. At this point I made a video, which explained that I was running this race in memory of my fabulous Uncle Melvyn and my lovely Ann, both of who we lost to cancer. Little emotional moment at that point, and a few tears.
Then up again! But the views – the views were totally amazing and made all of the uphill stretches absolutely worthwhile, especially for a city dweller like yours truly.
I even saw a cow, which I was very excited about. I do love cows.
Soon enough I was off on the last downhill stretch, retracing our steps of the first mile. A little girl in a car shouted “Go Unicorn” – and go I did.
Carl managed to get a great shot of me finishing, big smile on my face. It was really really hard, but such brilliant fun. I loved this race and would highly recommend it. I think I might be back next year.