Race Report: Helly Hansen Beauty & the Beast | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Helly Hansen Beauty & the Beast

Friday, 31 October 2014

Race Report: Helly Hansen Beauty & the Beast

WHAT: Billed as the UK's toughest multi-lap marathon with over 1500m accent (I did a relay)
WHERE: West Wycombe Park
WHEN: 20th September 2014

We all know the story well: Beauty gets captured by Beast, Beast turns out to be a softie, Beauty and Beast live happily ever after. But in the case of this multi-lap marathon, with over 1500m of accent and potentially actual blood (as the website 'poster boy' suggests), sweat and tears, this beast looked a little more ferocious!

Luckily, I had entered as part of a team of six meaning we would only have to tackle the gigantic hills once each. Arriving at West Wycombe Park, where even my little Fiesta had trouble climbing the inclines just to reach the car park, I was relieved I was sharing the distance. Each lap was just over 4-miles long but looking at the first couple of hundred metres and the number of runners it stopped in their tracks, it was clear the mileage was far from comfortable.

I was the fifth runner to head off, so I watched with trepidation as each teammate returned breathless with beetroot cheeks, trembling calves and knee-high mud tidemarks. But given a few minutes to recover and they all bounced around with beaming smiles – this was most certainly a race with a split personality.

As I finally set off, I seemed to have built up enough nervous energy to send me running up most of the first practically vertical hill. The metre markers reminded me I'd only just begun, though, and there was plenty more climbing to do, so I settled for hiking up the rest of the hill before the course took me straight back down the other side. I was certainly pleased to have my Helly Hansen W Kenosha HTs, the grassy trail was slippery but they dug into the ground enough to have the confidence to keep running down without fear of faceplanting.

The momentum carried me through the event village field and into wooded tunnels to hop tree roots, squelch through muddy ditches and duck branches. It was only when my legs begun to slow again that I remembered there were more giant hills ahead. Each was similarly cruel as the first – tempting you to run up them until you realise continuing will result in having to drag your exploded lungs along the rest of the course.

The description was spot on, this race was most certainly beastly but there were equal measures of beauty. Once you'd battled to the top of each hill, you were rightly rewarded with miles of countryside views (the advantage of climbing so high) as well as sweet, sweet descents, which were made even more enjoyable with lumps and bumps to dodge and even a river to splash through!

Just like my teammates before me, I finished my lap red-faced but delirious with endorphins. I almost wanted to do it all over again!

You can experience the Beauty and the Beast from the comfort of your sofa by watching the coverage on Channel 4 on 1st November at 6:35am.

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