• Wed17May 2017
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  • Bewl Water Ultra Marathon 2017: The Picturesque One

    When you’re on a mission or in my case, a major race goal, you can find yourself ignoring the details. Such as the fact that you have to be in the heart of the garden of England at 8:30am on a Saturday morning the day after going to see an American in Paris ready to run 37.5 miles. In fact, you haven’t even read about the race. All you know is that it’s 37.5 miles and that will put you in good stead when it comes to the big one. Thankfully, you work out a way to get there, thanks to the generosity of mum and dad.

    Stunning

    Stunning

    Pre-race prep?

    So, once the theatre on Friday night is over, you whizz down to your mum and dad’s house, get about six hours shut-eye, and then head off with your mum towards this place called Bewl Water. Mum insists on taking two Sat Navs because apparently, the one in the car is not trustworthy. Oh, and we’ve also got my brother’s cute dog Percy in tow to keep my mum company while I take on the three laps of the largest lake in South East England.

    Cute Percy alert

    Cute Percy alert

    The clock is ticking…It’s 8am…The race starts at 8:30am and we’re about 4 miles away. “Mum, I need the loo”. “What?” She replies.

    “Mum, I need the loo”. I’m five again.

    “What?” She replies. “Can’t you hold on?”

    “Well yes, but I have guzzled a bottle of water, Pepsi Max plus a nutty bar thing. I need the loo and I need to collect my race number. The race starts at 8:30. It must be nerves.” The words spill out of my mouth.

    “What? You still get nervous.”

    We arrive at around 8:10 and I jump out of the car, head to registration to collect my number, go to the loo, sort my running gear out and jog to the start, where I just about have time to pin my number on.

    The race begins. And what a pleasure it was.

    On to the race

    Nestled in the heart of the South East, Bewl Water reservoir is the perfect break away from the city. Offering cycling, sailing, hiking and more, plus plenty of pretty surrounding villages, I couldn’t help but think that we, as in my husband and I, should head down there for one weekend. Or you could simply choose to run the half, full or ultra marathon course in May with Hermes Running.

    Into the woods

    Into the woods

    After two races in London (the London Marathon followed by the Hackney Half), Bewl Water was a breath of fresh air. A mixture of off-road and country road running, it’s not a PB course. But you will enjoy the ambience and friendliness of your competitors.

    The route

    The route

    The route

    Each lap is around 12.5 miles. For the first half of the lap, you run almost parallel to the perimeter of the reservoir, which is really pretty. You then head out through a few tiny villages, where you’ll pass by Oast Houses and really pretty cottages. Honestly, it’s like diving into the Darling Buds of May. Then, the final quarter of the race, you meet the reservoir again and have a fantastic view of the boats sailing on the glistening water. Yes, it’s a long way but the route is so pretty that it helps distract you from the pain.

    Lap by lap

    So, the Ultra (37.5 miles) was three laps of the course, the Marathon was two laps and the Half was one lap. Obviously, each lap was the same distance but as the other races started after the Ultra, the second lap was my most memorable. Mainly because I passed by many of those completing the half. The atmosphere was so relaxed and enjoyable. You couldn’t listen to music on your headphones, so I played music alongside a few radio 4 extra plays through the speaker on my phone. As I ran past people, they were so encouraging, as were the volunteers on the four checkpoints. The final lap was probably the toughest, although I still enjoyed it (unlike the London Marathon a few weeks before).

    Post 2nd lap

    Post 2nd lap

    Result time

    I thought I would do it in 5 hours.

    Ha ha ha.

    How wrong I was.

    Let’s just say, I finished in just under 6 hours and got a little trophy plate as 2nd lady plus a pretty cool medal.

    Finished

    Finished

    Verdict

    If you love running, want to get away from the city for a bit and can get to Bewl Water, it’s totally worth signing up for one of the races (or any race from Hermes Running). They’re well-organised, well-manned and have a fantastic atmosphere. I’m already planning my next trip back to Bewl Water (and my next race with Hermes Running).

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