Sunday 10th February was one of those wet overcast days when you wish you could just stay in bed with mugs of tea and lashings of toast.........I didn't and neither did the 445 other people who found themselves on the start line of the 24th annual Dursley Dozen.
This is a multi terrain hill race over and around the hills of the Gloucestershire market town of Dursley. The conditions underfoot can only be described as horrendous, with mud calf deep and puddles that could easily be mistaken for small lakes, it was tough going from the off.
The race starts near the centre of town and heads uphill for the first mile or so, this was where I got a little carried away and got swept up with the front runners and used up far too much energy running the first 1.5 miles. This meant I was feeling rubbish from the top of the first hill until around the 6 mile marker, not great!
The weather had made the course particularly slippery in places, especially on some of the slight inclines/declines where everybody was stepping on the same spot. This resulted in a number of people taking tumbles, some of which would have been great on You've Been Framed, if only I'd had a video camera I could have cleaned up. Yours truly wasn't to be left out, almost falling flat on my face right in front of an official camera man, luckily my ninja like reactions allowed me to right myself and stay on my feet.
I was joined on the start line by Will Jerrold and Braddan Johnson, both x-Blue Coat School pupils from many years ago, it's always nice to have company even if they both beat you by considerable amounts of time. Nikki was there to cheer us along and whilst she hadn't entered the race, she decided to tag along at the end with the dog and run the first 4-5 miles......I'm not sure she understood how tough this would be, otherwise she probably would have stayed in bed.
The downhill sections brought relief, all be it short lived as staying on your feet was challenging to say the least. The climb down to the New Inn pub around mile 6 was bittersweet as I knew we had to turn around at the bottom and head right back up to the top again. I didn't see a single person running back up this hill, so at least I wasn't alone pushing my legs with my arms and doing my best to control my breathing.
The final few miles traverse under the tree line of Stinchcombe Hill before a steep climb back up on to the top. Any running race that involves using ropes to pull yourself up strikes me as mountaineering rather than running, that said I couldn't have been more thankful for those ropes. There was a short wait as people bunched up and queued, some others attempted the climb solo but were quickly put right and re-joined the rope queue with some additional mud attached to them. At the very top was the reward of a jelly baby and a biting wind as we traversed back around the hill and on to the golf course before heading downwards into town and the finish line.
Braddan picked up a 50th place with an impressive 1 hr 44 mins 15 seconds, Will was next with 1 hr 52 mins 2 seconds (97th) and I brought up the rear guard with 1 hr 58 mins 9 seconds (143rd). Full results are available here, the winner this year came in 1 hr 26 mins, so I'm quite happy with my time and position out of the 441 finishers.......official race report available here.
After finishing the race, Will's first words to me were "any more bright ideas?".......I'll leave it with you to decided if there was a hint sarcasm involved here.......