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Frieth Hilly 10k: Race report

October 16, 2011

The finish line of the Frieth Hilly 10k

Driving from London to a small village outside High Wycombe for the Frieth Hilly 10k, through a real pea-souper fog, lungs still unpleasantly full of cold, I was questioning whether the race was a good idea. However, here I was, and I’d dragged my girlfriend away from a Sunday lie-in with the promise of tasty post-race cake.

As the car climbed the rolling hills that give the race its name, the mist parted, the sun came out and men in lycra and high-vis gear started jogging towards us. Having parked I had time to have one last hit of eucalyptus oil, dump my bags and gather with the other runners for the pre-race briefing.

One of the things that makes the Frieth Hilly 10k such a good event is the community of the race. The race is organised by the PTA of the local primary school, and alongside the spectacle of the 10k a barbeque and a cake sale help raise funds for the school. Following the traditional race briefing, the runners were blessed by the local Reverend and then escourted out to the main road in the village.

About half of the race is on trails through the local woods and fields, and relatively little is flat. The first half of the race is predominantly downhill, and I felt okay letting gravity help me along (all the while carefully watching my footing over some fairly uneven ground). The descent was stunning in the sunlight, with the fog still hanging in the valley and the hills the other side rising behind.

After the half-way point, as the course starts to rise with some fairly gruelling climbs, I began to feel the cold restricting my lung capacity. A few coughs, a bit of phlegm and not enough oxygen getting to my muscles convinced me to take it a bit easier and just enjoy the run.

Out of the woods and back on to the roads, the hills are less present from the 7km mark. Gathering my breath and aware that the final 100 metres or so is pure uphill, I took in the scenery, spotting a red kite soaring overhead.

Cake and tea at the end of the Frieth Hilly 10k

The perfect post-race recovery nutrition

And then, in the closing straight of the race, the hills kicked in again. Fortunately, the race commentators – who had been tirelessly narrating events since at least 9:30 – were on hand to give every one of the 300 or so runners a namecheck on the way up the hill.

Through the finishing funnel in pretty much dead on 42 minutes, it was time for some well-earned refreshment. A cup of tea and some amazing tripple chocolate brownie were exactly what I needed, consumed sitting outside on a child-sized bench in the soon-to-be-lost sunshine of the morning watching the runners cross the finish line. (I’m also told that the Victoria sponge cake and shortbread were pretty darned fine, and the banana loaf cake I bought to share at work the next day had to be sampled beforehand.)

In short, I’ve run this race before and I’m pretty sure I’ll run it again. I just hope that next time I’m in better health. 

You can see more photos of the race over at the Foot4ward Facebook page.

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