In vastly warmer temperatures than the last running of the 'Hash' 7 of Long Eaton's finest shook off their festive excesses and went back to old school cheap XC racing. For the princely sum of £3 the hardy few got 6.5 miles of multi-terrain goodness, Croft hill, a water obstacle *and* hot soup with rolls at the end.
The course started by edging a few fields around the Race HQ, The Pavilion Leisure Centre in Huncote, before snaking through a copse of trees, following tracks around rural farmland then circling the ominous Croft Hill.
Half way into the race the climbing began. Choices - use the baffled planks fashioned into steps which were just too frequent for 1 step per stride but just too far for 2 steps per stride or use the claggy mud trod beside it which allowed runners to pace out as their legs wanted?
In the end it was irrelevant. The top 20 may have ran the whole climb but mere mortals reverted to hands on thighs and walking.
Still, it was all down hill from there. Well, no actually. The thaw meant the traverse across the quarry bank was treacherous, with the lower foot constantly sliding down in the mud. Once past that challenge runners got superb views of the area before hitting the final climb – up to Croft Hill trig point. The final sty after emerging from the woods saw possibly the most abused marshal in the country today directing already exhausted runners left. And up.
After being heartily cheered on up the final ascent came the final 2 easy miles back into Huncote. Except of course for the 'water feature'. Not a crossing, but a feature. Up a track and the marshals block the path and direct runners into the water. Then after 5 meters upstream a scramble back onto the track and a mad dash to the finish.
For the men, first back was Phil Abbott then Martin Mathews followed by the Pyefinch brothers, continuing his comeback from injury, Paul Burchall then Damian Cowlishaw
The sole lady was Vicky Beaumont who completed her first Hash smiling. As she'd been warned beforehand that the race was going to be the hardest she had ever done - that's some achievement.
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