To get really underway in the marathon training (and to make sure that I wasn't too lazy over Christmas) Karly and I had signed up for the #Tadworth10, along with our #DFSG4 pals Hanna and Kate. It was the first 10 mile run I've ever done, and the only knowledge of the race we had was that it was quite 'hilly.'
We arrived at Epsom Racecourse in what can only be described as a torrential storm. The rain was bucketing down, and the prevailing wind over the downs was not adding to our enthusiasm. I was just glad I'd brought my thermal top and tights, and had a decent pair of trail shoes to run in.
The run itself began just inside the finishing post of the racecourse, and after a few hundred metres of wet, thick, muddy grass moved onto the gravel path. After splashing in quite a few puddles, it was clear this wasn't going to be a dry day - and with raindrops stinging my race I realised it wasn't going to be particularly pleasant either.
The route took us over the racecourse and down the southern side, only to be greeted by a climb of just over a mile on a very uneven and broken up road. Small rivers formed either side and with a big group of runners tussling for position on the bits of tarmac that were above the water it got my feet even wetter.
Once at the top of the hill, there was a bit of a false summit until the race turned back on itself, past a lake with ducks laughing at the stream of runners braving the elements, and then a left turn onto a muddy track. This was probably my favourite bit of the course, as though the shallow mud and leaves sapped the energy from your legs, it's was unusual enough an experience to keep me focused on staying upright and distracted from the task in hand.
Coming out of the other side was a relatively nice downhill section, followed by a much steeper downhill that was just too steep to be able to run comfortably. As we were nearing the end of the downhill I felt a small twinge in my right quad - hoping upon hope that it wasn't going to end my race prematurely. At the end of this we passed through a much smaller muddy path with a sharp right onto the gravel path up the western edge of the course to begin lap 2, yet a mile away from where we'd started (this was good planning by the organisers, because had we gone much closer to the start/finish I'm sure people would have been tempted to call it a 5 miler instead!).
The second lap wasn't particularly eventful other than being much wetter, but with more space due to the runners now being more spread out. This meant that the climbs were easier as it was possible to take the high ground without competition from fellow competitors. I was a bit nervous about my quad going into the downhill section, but it held up fine. I think it was even pretty happy to find the new 'water feature' that had presented itself at the bottom of the hill - 30 metres through 6 inches of water rolling in off the downs from the recent downpour.
The final stretch was a bit of a struggle, but I was still on track for completing the course in under 1h30. The last mile was all along the gravel tracks interspersed with puddles twice as wide. Whilst on the way out I'd ran around the puddles, now I just wanted to get to the finish as quickly as possible so ran straight through. Coming up to the finish I didn't have anyone immediately behind me so didn't finish particularly strongly, but managed to come in just under 90 minutes, a race time of 1.29.23, and a chip time of 1.29.09.