Northampton SVN Cakeathon
This race took place on the Saturday of the Bank holiday weekend at the beginning of May. The same company SVN (Saxons Vikings and Normans) holds a Chocathon on the Sunday and a Cookiethon on the Monday at the same venue.
The Cakeathon is a running challenge. The course is a loop of 5.17 miles. You are given a card to attach to your number or elsewhere on your running gear which is punched at the end of each lap. When you decide you want to finish, you don’t have your card punched but ring a hand bell and declare that you have finished. The number of laps that you have run is recorded and you are given your medal and goody bag. You can run as many or as few laps as you like within the 6 hour cut off. As long as you have started a lap before the 6 hours is up, you will be allowed to finish it. You don’t need to declare how many laps you intend to run beforehand, although there is an extra small loop if you want to run a half or a full marathon to make the exact distance so it would be wise to advise the organisers that you want to do either of these.
The race HQ was at the Holiday Inn on the outskirts of Northampton, just off the A45 so very straightforward to get to. Car parking was free in the hotel car park, you simply needed to register your car inside the hotel. Number collection was from a table under a tree in the grounds although had it been wet it would have been inside. The baggage drop was a large groundsheet under another tree and hidden by smaller foliage but again under a tree (the shade was very important it turned out) the refreshments table and the cake table. You were invited to bake and bring along your own cake, and there was a competition with small trophies for the winners. Bringing your own cake was not compulsory! We used the hotel’s toilets and there was a bit of a queue at about 30 minutes to go but the field was relatively small so it was not problematic.
The race started at 9:00am and there was a race briefing at 8:50 that went over how the laps worked with your card being punched and the route itself. We started on the road just outside the entrance to the hotel and ran down the pavement, over a bridge and turned left onto a tarmac footpath that ran alongside a river and next to (but separated by trees) the A45. The path turned after just over a mile and went over a footbridge onto a grass path around the reservoir. You completed one full lap of the reservoir and then back down the path to the start to get your card punched. The route was basically flat and was roughly split 50/50 between tarmac and grass. The grass was dry and you could run it all in road shoes today.
The out and back nature of the course meant you saw other runners regularly and I could High 5 Phillip (my husband) on each lap and cheer on the other WJ’s Mark Turner, Jayne Turner and Sarah Brown. Everyone had their name written on their number so you could encourage them by name as they passed.
The small field, there were by my estimation less than 200 runners today, did mean that you were often running by yourself but the other runners were very friendly and it was easy to chat to those that you did fall in with. When you reached the end of the loop and had your card punched you could then either turn straight round or go and get a drink, visit the toilet, sit down for a bit and eat and then go back out again. I planned to do 15 miles today, so 3 laps which gave me 15.51 miles, and so I simply turned straight round each time as I had my own water with me. Those running further tended to take a break on some laps.
On finishing I ran the bell, confirmed I had run 3 laps, had my finish time recorded and was handed my medal and goody bag. The race advertised that there would be no leaflets and useless stuff in the goody bag and there wasn’t just food and beer! The medal is enormous and I had a badge on the ribbon saying I had run a half marathon today. Then it was the difficult decision of which cake to try. I went for a banana sponge with salted caramel icing, very banoffee pie like and delicious. You could go back for more but the heat meant that I didn’t really fancy more.
The race cost £39 to enter which sounds expensive but the price is the same no matter how many laps you do. The course was flat and simple to follow. Unfortunately today there was no shelter from the sun and it did start to feel quite hot. On a windy or rainy day you would suffer equally as it is an exposed route.
The race organisation was excellent. An email confirming all the important information sent out the week before with clear instructions and directions. The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly and for once the field was dominated by women runners.
For more information about this and other races organised by this company see http://www.saxon-shore.com/
I will certainly look to do another of their events in the future.
The Goodie Bag