Bedford is approximately 45 mins from Peterborough.
There is no parking at the event, because the roads around race HQ (Wootton Upper School) are closed for the race. Getting there is extremely straightforward though. You simply follow the postcode provided for parking, which takes you to the car park of a massive Argos distribution centre. From there you will see a whole string of buses especially laid on to take you to the Race.
The bus drops you about half a mile from the school, and from there you walk up a long hill, which you realise with horror is what you will actually be running up for the last half mile of your race!
Number collection takes place in the main hall (no numbers are sent out in advance), and this is well-organised, with minimal queuing. Your envelope also contains your chip and luggage ticket.
Toilet facilities, as seems to be standard with most races where schools are used as HQ, were a bit lacking, with just a couple of traps for women. (I didn’t check out the men’s, but could assume it was the same for them judging by the amount of men veering off behind hedges the minute we were in the countryside!). There were also a few portaloos outside, but I’ve noticed that the state of these before a race normally take grimness to a whole new level. The queues for these were also enormous.
Everybody was called to convene outside to line up for the race at 9.45am for a 10am start, although it was announced that we would be starting 5 mins late because they were still waiting for quite a few people to turn up.
The race takes you out of Wootton into the Bedfordshire countryside. Having run the race last year, I was well aware that the course was going to contain some absolute stinkers of hills, and it was when I arrived at the bottom of the first one at mile three that I asked myself ‘what the hell have you done this again for?’, a bit like when you wake up with a hangover, but worse! I got to the top of that one in one piece, and encountered my old boss on the run, who cheerfully pointed out there were two more worse than that. His memory of the race was clearly clearer than mine had been, because there were indeed a few other ‘challenges’ along the way.
It is not all uphill though, and from approx. miles 8-11 there was plenty of downhill. You also run past a pub at mile 11 where they are handing out little cups of beer to all the runners. I decided to give this a miss though as I had just taken a gel and thought the combo might be a bit dodgy on the stomach! Talking of liquid, there were 3 water stations on the course, at miles 3, 7 and 11. The water was handed out in plastic cups.
As I mentioned earlier, the race ends on an uphill, which felt twice as long by that stage as it had felt walking up it earlier in the morning. There is lots of support at the end, with very friendly villagers lining the last stretch.
One thing that has to get its own mention is the standard of marshalling. The marshals were absolutely superb; extremely friendly and supportive and did an excellent job of keeping everybody safe on the course.
There is no medal with this race, but instead you get a very nice, long sleeved technical top.
The highlight of the day came at the end, when we learned that Ann Wood won the best in age category. She flew over those hills in a time that most people could only ever dream of, and was rewarded with a very nice bowl for her efforts. Several others also achieved PBs, which is extremely commendable on such a challenging course. Alas I was not one of them on this occasion, but nevertheless I had had a great morning out and went home satisfied that I’d put my all into my run.