Sarah Nield writes:
“In my effort to complete as many of the Somerset series as I can, having come to the party late missing the first 7 out of the 19 races, I am trying to achieve the minimum 8 races that count. This is due to being inspired by the amazing Gill Constable sweeping the board in last year’s series. The Ash Excellent 8 was my 6th race in the series; I’ve booked the Mells Scenic 7, 24th Sept, and intend to finish with the Brent Knoll MT on the 26th November. My hope was that I might do well overall having won each of the races, IN MY AGE CATEGORY, so far, but unfortunately the results for the series are calculated by age as at 1st January 2017 when I was a mere 54, oh well, all to do again next year. Anyway, back to the Ash Excellent 8…
Gill Constable drove us the 42 miles and we arrived early enough to get properly organised. Described as “an approximately eight mile multi-terrain race with country lanes, rough tracks, stiles, gates, fields, hills and breath taking country views”, the race briefing was entertaining with talk of lost shoes and the mileage makers being rough estimates with the overall race being closer to 8.4 miles (but it wasn’t, it was 8.1 miles on my Garmin, phew). There was a good turn out, with lots of friendly, familiar faces from neighbouring clubs. The route started on the road just outside Ash Primary School. It had a slight incline up which would be a downhill our return, giving me comfort, as the race directed had explained that the first mile was a quiet downhill country lane to endured on the return. A dog was barking from one of the gardens as we sped down that hill and was still barking as I pushed myself up it near to home, it was a good sound. After that first section of downhill the route went on to Milton and then turned down a rough drove and across fields to Long Load. There was a short section on the road over the River Yeo before following a footpath around the golf course. This was a lovely section where I felt I had the place to myself, runners in front and behind me but I had it to myself. After another quiet road section through Knole village the route turned steeply up Knole Hill, very steeply, where walking was the norm I felt, and the effort was rewarded with stunning views from the top that opened out over rolling downhill paths that looked familiar to paths I enjoy during Thursday evening running sessions coming down from the top of the gorge pretending to be an aeroplane. Once down from the hill it was rough flat droves for two miles with mud, sticky mud that pulled on your shoes. I was grateful for the grip my off-roads gave me, I can tell you. There were a couple of narrow bridges and stiles along the route giving me opportunity to take a breather. Then, the final mile back uphill through Witcombe to Ash School, with a passion to win my age category firmly in my sights and the sound of the dog barking encouragement. Over the finish line, exhausted and delighted. Great t-shirt, rain had stayed off, and Gill and I won our age categories, receiving great trophies in the shape of a trainer and a bottle of wine each.
Our official times were 1:13:02 and Gill, 1:23:16.
A great day out! ”