Sleigh needed to slay terrain

The Slay the Dragon 10k at Hinton St George just over the border in Somerset was a new event organised by the local school in conjunction with a 2K fun run.

The "Slay the Dragon" 10k at Hinton St George just over the border in Somerset was a new event organised by the local school in conjunction with a 2K fun run. The picturesque village made of Ham stone was once the home of H W Fowler, the famous grammarian, and his attractive house bears a Blue Plaque in his memory. Any runner who has competed in the Crewkerne Mini Marathon will have gone through this village.The route there from the A303 was particularly tricky along country lanes half covered with ice. The race was to have been an "undulating six-mile multi-terrain course with country lanes, rough tracks, stiles, gates, fields, hills and breath-taking country views". That was the plan anyway. "Sleigh" the Dragon would have been a better title. Brian Gosling could have done with a sledge! The beginning and end of the course had to be abandoned because of the dangerously icy conditions but, having had to walk a mile to the new start, a group of about a hundred runners set off over snow-covered fields. Brian looked in vain for another green Sidmouth vest as he could have done with some company (who else would be so foolhardy?) but he had to content himself with looking at the beautiful white landscape and enjoying the novelty of running in fresh, crisp snow. It was an exhilarating experience. Times and positions did not really matter in such a race as most runners ran slower in order to prevent slipping and sliding. The organisers coped well with the challenging conditions and it is an event to be recommended.l The weather and navigational problems on the Saturday also made a mess of the Thames 50mile Trot from Oxford to Henley which turned out to be a bit of a disaster for Bev Tarry and Jane Hemsworth in their first attempt at this distance. After receiving confirmation it was to go ahead, only 67 of the original runners managed to get to the start on a beautiful sunny day, but with lots of snow and ice around. It was very slow going, but our two ladies went as fast as they safely could, given the conditions and were even enjoying it - it is not every day you get to run for hours in the snow.They had just got to the 30 mile point (only 20 to go) when they took a wrong turn after having to deviate from the towpath. They had lost half an hour by the time they got back to the river and by then had been running for about seven and a half hours - yes - seven and a half hours! At the next checkpoint the race organisers told them that because the last three people behind them had dropped out, they were now last and he would not allow them to continue because they had missed the cut off time. It turned out that others had got lost at the same spot but managed to phone the organisers for directions. The results eventually showed that the last finisher came in at 13hrs 44mins, with quite a few coming in on the 11 and 12 hour mark. Bev and Jane both felt that they could have got home before that but, undaunted, they can't wait for next year. All they need is some intensive orienteering instruction and larger maps!l As a more straightforward alternative, the Westward Cross Country League at the Parke Estate, Bovey Tracey, provided a great afternoon's racing. In particular, Ellie Stone excelled in the mud and slush to take second place in a closely-contested Under-13 girls' race. Everyone else just got muddy.

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