Stour Valley Marathon
3 June 2018 - By Brigid Wallen
As always, today’s run was laid back; no talk of finishing times just finishing….
150+ runners set off from Nayland Village Hall at 9am to complete the figure of 8 loop starting and finishing on the village green. It was cloudy but warm and the sun was set to break through.
Within the first mile is Gravel Hill where a bold start is a statement of intent! The course continues gradually uphill to the first check-point around the 5 mile mark where a welcome table of water and jelly babies awaits.
The next few miles to Stratford St Mary are mainly down hill, with stiles a-plenty but with lovely views of Dedham Vale if you care to look. The next main village is Boxted with its line of poplar trees the main marker until you turn right back towards the half way point.
And so on to our third checkpoint at The Anchor PH in Nayland, at 14.5 miles, where a feast of biscuits, nachos and sausage rolls, if you could stomach such delicacies, were available. We were also greeted by our own merry band of cheer-leaders: Andy Lager on the official marshal table, along with Tracey, Becky, Tony and DJ.
Over the bridge and down the steps took us along the next loop towards Wormingford and Bures. This section had fewer hills than the first loop but they were definitely longer and more energy sapping. Added to this, the sun was now out which made the last 12.5 miles really tough. Runners stopped at the outside tap at Wormingford Church to splash their faces and fill up bottles with fresh cold running water – what a treat!!
The main topic of conversation however, wasn’t the long drag up Cuckoo Hill at Bures but the long, long hill which followed around 22 miles. Usually the rape-seed crop has been and gone by June but due to the late spring, it was just on the way out. The footpath was covered by the dead foliage but the plantation was still tall. The narrative provided said : “faint path through shoulder high oilseed rape” and they were not wrong. I think all of our runners were at least 5ft 4 (yes Bill, I think you just about made that) but believe me, if you were much shorter then the crops would have been eye-level or more. A bit soul destroying here as I’m sure that even the fast runners would have struggled getting through.
Thankfully after this, the rest of the run was easy to navigate and, with no more pesky hills, the remaining 5 odd miles were quite pleasant with the finish line in touching distance. Re-tracing our steps back to Nayland, crossing the A134, back to the bridge, up the steps (ouch) and then back to the village green, we were once again cheered in by our merry band of supporters, this time with a few additions, the Darney clan, Rachel and Mat along with Martyn and our dear friend Albert.
Well done to everyone who took part – it was a challenging run in tough conditions – and thank you to everyone who supported us 😎
Sent from my iPad