WHERE: Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey
WHEN: 13th July 2014
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes
|A peek of the beautiful Denbies estate|
Fuelled on jelly babies generously handed out by volunteers along the course and the promise of beer at the finish, I continued on towards another “undulation”. The Badger Half definitely delivered the views it promised (it’s voted as one of the most picturesque races in the UK) but in order to get to the vista points, you must go up. Up a seemingly never-ending winding path, up steep but short tree-rooted tracks, up puddly mud trails that appear to grow in gradient with each step.
My technique constantly wavered between floating and stomping up each hill. One moment I’d feel smug that my hill training had paid off as I breezed past walkers. The other, my wobbly legs would almost crumble from the effort as I marvelled at those trotting past. But however you made it to the top, each climb was rewarded with a new view. Half way through, I was so distracted with my surroundings (both the beauty and the challenging change in terrain) I forgot I was doing a half marathon. I hadn’t been thinking about distance or speed and certainly not about finishing. Despite the hills, I was far from suffering, I was having a ball!
|Me and Lauren with our badger finishers' t-shirts|
I wasn’t alone, panting from the small field of runners was interrupted with their chatter, laughs and banter. If you hadn’t already arrived with a friend, you’d be sure to make one around the course – I was invited to a run club, shamed into never having done parkrun and laughed at for almost running into a tree.
|As good as any gold medal!|
Alas, the fun couldn’t last forever, my legs wouldn’t allow it. As we left the woods and started to descend on pavement, I was reminded that this was in fact a race and I just had two miles left before I could enjoy my beer. One last jelly baby offered by an enthusiastic marshall rushed me to the end, where even more volunteers were furiously chopping fruit and pouring drinks for greedy finishers to gorge on. The brilliant badger t-shirt topped off the perfect end to a brilliant race.