The Fowlmead Challenge is a 6 hour timed event. Run as far as you can or as far as you want in 6 hours round a loop of the Betteshanger Country Park in Kent.
We got out of the car, after a good two hour drive from Worthing, into freezing rain and a battering wind. ‘Why the hell are we doing this?’ was our initial reaction as we carried our bags to the temporary visitor centre.
I’m not one to back out of challenge but it was very tempting to have nothing to do with the Fowlmead Challenge at all!! I had been planning to film it but, given the weather, that quickly went out of the window.
However, by the time the race start rolled round it had actually stopped raining. Race Director Traviis Wilcox gave us the customary race briefing which included instructions to run on the path and not the road. An instruction which would, by the end of the day, be flouted by virtually every participant!
My thoughts are that on a lovely, sunny summer’s day, this run would be gorgeous. The scenery is pleasant enough, the route is undulating but not hilly by any means and the loop is long enough to be interesting but short enough that you feel you can get back to the start finish before you collapse from dehydration or starvation!
6 Hour Timed Event
The problem today was that I wasn’t in the mood for a wet, cold, windy 30 mile run. We had in fact planned to do around 40 miles. Richard set off quickly and was soon the leader. But this being a timed event, it doesn’t matter how fast you are. What matters is how many miles you cover in the time allowed.
We very soon discovered that if we stuck to the path as instructed it was really wet and tough going. After a couple of laps many people opted for the tarmac, which is actually a cycle track. Luckily being such a miserable day there were very few cyclist out so it didn’t feel like it was dangerous at any point. I stuck it out for three laps but in the end I too started running on the tarmac. Richard tells me he ran on the official path all the way apart from his last lap.
I think it was 6 laps for a marathon and 7 for 31ish miles. Richard got to the end of his 7th lap as I finished my 6th. It was tempting to stop at the marathon but I dragged another lap out of myself. It was a very slow lap but it got me to an ultra distance so I was pleased enough.
As with so many courses and events, the Fowlmead Challenge would have been so much more enjoyable in the summer or at least with the sun out. Organisation was perfectly acceptable, the aid station was nicely stocked with the usual treats, although the lovely chocolate fudge pieces disappeared pretty darn quick!!
Viking Coastal Marathon
Traviis Wilcox organises a lot of runs in Kent and I’ve done a couple of them before. Always well organised and fun and currently my marathon PB was set at a Traviis event, the Viking Coastal Marathon. So we will be back for more. Let’s just hope the weather isn’t quite so bad for the next one!!