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West Wight 3 Hills

West Wight 3 Hills

The second Easter race from Ryde Harriers on Easter Monday was the West Wight 3 Hills. I expected the race to be the more challenging of the two however because I was mentally prepared for it I actually found it easier in a ‘this is tough but I’m still doing it’ sort of way and was relieved to have hills and not the leg sapping ankle-deep mud.

The first two miles were a small loop up a hill and back into Freshwater, lulling me into a ‘I can do these hills’ state of mind. If only I knew! From there the course began to climb, and climb. At first on small country roads, then out onto footpaths and Headon Warren. We climbed up and up and eventually I walked (I realised I was faster walking than a few runners around me) where I could admire the view back over the Solent to Hurst Castle. Towards the top I tore myself away from the view and got running again on sandy trails through the gorse brining us out right above the Needles park, its cable car and a view of Alumn Bay and the Needles before we dropped down to road level.

I could then see a line of runners up to the downs in the near distance in front of me climbing up a pretty much vertical bank. There were actually footsteps worn into the grass almost like steps up the bank and at the steepest point I resorted to four-wheel drive. Thanks to all those bunny hops, bear crawls and squats recently my legs only felt like jelly by the top rather than being actually turned to jelly.

Once I regained my composure we ran across the downs battered by the cold wind and on to the last climb up Tennyson Down to the Tennyson monument. At this stage all I could see was cloud and grass as we were above everything else and thought that maybe I should recite a bit of Tennyson poetry if I could remember (knew) any.

Then came the best bit with a fast decent from the top of the downs into Freshwater bay before the last mile or so home. It wasn’t too steep and on nice soft grass so I stopped myself from holding back and went for it passing a few people on the way down and seeing my garmin show a decent bit of pace similar to some of my best interval miles.

Another small, well organised friendly race with 110 finishers. Possibly one of the most challenging races I’ve run and certainly the most scenic. I am surprised that more people haven’t found these two great multi terrain Easter races which at 7 and (just under) 8 miles can give you a couple of shiny new PBs and not affect your 10K/10mile/HM stats. They are certainly worth combining with an Easter break on the Island. Ryde Harriers put on a very good race and the Isle of Wight supplies some stunning scenery.

7.82 miles in 1.16.01. Elevation 820ft gain… 784ft loss. (garmin stats here)


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Newport to Ryde 7

Was it anything like I expected? No. Was it fun? Yes, once I got really stuck into the lovely mud in the woods!

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Yesterday I ran the first of the two Easter races organised by Ryde Harriers here on the Isle of Wight. It’s described as a multi terrain race and I expected that the off-road bits would probably be mainly on cycle paths and hard trails. However we were warned at the start to expect ‘everything and anything’ from marshes to mud plus fallen trees across the path. They were right. At this stage I regretted forgetting to put on my trail shoes and wondered how much grip my adizero adios would have in the mud, although I felt more sorry for the man standing next to me in brand new bright white running shoes.

The race starts from a small huddle in the middle of a road at the edge of Newport then heads out under an underpass into a dull housing estate before cutting through an alley over a stile up into a muddy field. Someone in front of me didn’t take the ‘hope you’ve got your shoe laces done up well’ seriously as he was digging his shoe out of the ankle deep mud by mile 2. From there it was on up through a farm out onto open grassy fields (marsh) with some great views back across the Solent before we climbed a serious of stiles leading us into the woods and muddy tracks where we found the fallen tree we’d been warned about.

My shoes were surprisingly ok in the mud as long as I used the slip sliding as forward movement. At least they were light for tip-toeing across the boggy sections and picking out the dryer patches along the edge of the ruts and puddles. They also didn’t pick up a load of mud on the bottom to weigh me down which my trail shoes often do.

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Then on, the race had a good variety of hard trails, small country roads, footpaths and pavement, undulating with some sharp ups and one nice long downhill. A cut right through the woods at Firestone Copse reminded me of Thunder Run and just when my feet were drying out we were treated to more churned up mud on a grassy downhill before a short killer climb to the last few hundred metres towards the finish.

A small friendly race, with 87 finishers. I was 12th out of 23 women and 5th in my age category! (ok so there were only 6 of us). Well organised with chip timing on race numbers (which to keep down costs are given back and re-used). It was very well marshalled with encouragement and directions at all the important junctions and stopping the traffic at road crossings plus a half way water station and a jelly baby from the marshal who sent us up a bank into the woods. No medal but we did get the useful yellow kit bag as a memento.

All in all a challenging (made more so because of wet conditions in the past few months), varied, fun (if you like running around the woods in the mud) small and friendly multi terrain race with some good scenery. Definitely worth a go if you are visiting IOW for Easter and at 7 miles it can give you a shiny new pb

7.09 miles in 67.21. Elevation, 516ft gain… 363ft loss

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