The team, consisting of parents, teachers, their friends and family, were a pretty mixed bunch, a variety of abilities, ages and experience in running long distances. The one thing we all did share was our determination to finish, raise some funds for charity (the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund) and have a jolly good time in the process.
The team met up in the morning at the delightful Denbies Wine Estate, at the foot of Box Hill in Surrey amid a buzzing crowd of like-minded runners, all decked out in hilarious fancy dress and wide smiles. In fact our costume of yellow tutu’s, bra tops (the girls!) and yellow caps fitted in quite nicely.
After seeing the hard-core ‘marathon’ runners off, we picked up our numbers and time tags and all made our way to the start line. The team then naturally split into three – Jason Bourne (who you may recognise as last year’s Wembley bound Captain of TWFC) and Juhana Kirk who are pretty good runners, showed their true colours and were off like hares as soon as the klaxon sounded.
Liss Hurditch, her sister Sharon Steadman and running partners in crime Jane Rawlings and Sam Simmons were close on their tails, proving that ‘ladies that run’ are livelier than ‘ladies that lunch’. Next up were the determined (but carrying a variety of assorted injuries) Michelle Baker, Caroline Kottler and Phil Long.
The route ran through and around the North Downs (a designated area of outstanding beauty), starting off through the green vineyards and then onto paths and bridleways through the spectacular Mole Valley. As the event is held just before the grape harvest the vines, spread out over 126 acres, were full of luscious grapes – all looking very tempting and exotic!
Second to these, the refreshment stations – dotted every two miles – were amazingly good too; offering drinks (including wine shots – red, rose and white) fruit juice and water, chopped fruit and sweets, crisps and biscuits, brass bands (yes really) and whooping marshals; “come on you yellow tutus!!” – all amazingly inspiring.
Winding up Box Hill and culminating at a drinks station at the top we were greeted by Duncan Stacey, his partner Jenny and his young son who were there to cheer us on our way – most appreciated by all – thanks Duncan! To say the views were magnificent is a bit of an understatement. After that, we were taken through woodlands, pastures, inquisitive cattle and past delightful cottages and the type of houses fit for those ever so, Surrey commuters.
Although the course is undulating, the last mile is thankfully all downhill, with glorious views overlooking Denbies Wine Estate and again, the beautiful Mole Valley. Eventually as the finish line came into view and the legs started asking serious questions (mine at least), we all achieved our goal, albeit finishing in different times.
Juhana and Jason came in 3rd and 4th overall – which is a fantastic achievement considering the sheer amount of starters – it also means the Rose Hillians are on the map for next year! We all received a big, weighty silver medal (the kids will be soooo jealous) a fab technical top and that silver shiny foil wrap thing that makes you secretly feel like a mission returning, futuristic superhero!
Could it get any better? Well after re-grouping and bonding over our shared journey, we enjoyed a veritable feast of sumptuous hog roast, award winning wine (a variety being called Rose Hill!) and fine, foot tapping tunes. Never before has sitting around on grass chatting to friends seemed more heavenly.
Having never run a half marathon, I can honestly say that the experience of going over the finish line was totally unexpected; utterly wonderful – a mixture of relief, happiness, bonding and self-fulfillment. This really was an event that I would recommend anyone who has it in them to do, actually do. It perfectly catered for everyone; from the determined walker through to the experienced runner.
We have (so far) raised just under £1,800.00 (A BIG thank you do all who have donated) and really want to reach our goal of £2,500.00. If you haven’t done so already, you can donate at HERE. Every penny goes towards raising awareness for melanoma, one of the fastest growing cancers in the UK and the most common in young people. Have a look here to see what the charity is doing with their new film entitled Blow the Whistle on Sunburn!
The Bacchus Half Marathon was voted the 2nd best half marathon in the UK last year by Runner’s World – and we can see why. We are now signing up for next year’s event and alongside the original Rose Hillian team (yes, we are all doing it again!) we want YOU to join us – are you up for it? We are looking for people of all abilities – you can walk it, run it or even follow in the tracks of Jason and Juhana and go for gold!
Further details of the event can be found at www.eventstolive.co.uk. If you can interested, please contact Michelle Baker on firstname.lastname@example.org.