Not so Dirty, Dirt Half
Dirt Half Challenge 2018
by Neil Green
I’d been meaning to do a half marathon again for a while, I ran one in Milton Keynes about a decade ago (1:59:something) but since getting back into running a couple of years ago I have rarely run further than 5 miles. In fact with the warm up and running home afterwards the Monday night ‘Speed’ sessions are often also my longest run of the week.
I’d heard about the Dirt Half from those that ran it in previous years and it appealed for a number of reasons;
- Excuse to buy some trail shoes
- Motivation to do some longer training runs
- Great route – hardly any roads, lots of trails, hills, mud to keep things interesting
- So local I can walk there and back and still be home before the kids are out of their PJ’s
- I surely must be fitter than I was 10 years ago so a PB is almost guaranteed despite the hills
Perfect, booked a place, bought some trail shoes and…… mainly carried on with the same training runs I always do! Actually I did manage to fit in a few 10 milers in the weeks leading up to the event which I struggled with but at least gave me the confidence that id be able to do the distance.
I arrived at Cedars on race day pleased that the weather was fairly warm. With those in the know saying that the course was pretty much mud free and dry, I decided to ditch my new trail shoes in favour of my normal road shoes (little bit disappointed!).
I started near the back of a pack of almost 1000 runners which wasn’t ideal and meant the loop around the playing field was spent speeding up to overtake people and try and get in a better position for the long stretch down the canal. Looking across the field it was good to see a group of purple and gold way ahead at the sharp end of the race.
The stretch to the Three Locks passed quickly and without incident, just before mile 6 we left the canal and headed up the first (and only significant hill), a 1.5 mile grind up through Great Brickhill and into Rushmere. I slowed down a lot but felt that I was still making good progress. The next few miles were great, proper trails through the woods with short ups and down, and hardly any mud. The route the followed the Greensand Ridge Walkway and joined back up with the canal at The Globe. By this time though my pace was gone and I seemingly only had one speed in my legs (slow) However the support from spectators was fantastic and I did find myself attempting to speed up when people were shouting for LBAC.
As I came past the final drink station at The Globe someone shouted that there was just 5K left. I was acutely aware that this was now unchartered territory for me in terms of distance, but how hard can a flat 5k be?
Turns out it was harder than expected! I got slower and slower and the people passing me looked like they were sprinting in comparison. However I was comfortably ahead of my time from the MK half 10 years ago and enjoyed the last loop around Tiddenfoot Quarry before arriving at the finish in 1:53:03.
For LBAC it was a good day. It turns out that the Purple and Gold I had seen amongst the front pack during the loop of Cedars managed to run good races with 3 top tens. 1st in was Peter Mackrell in 1:18:54 (4th overall) followed by Andy Inchley (6th overall) and Chris George (7th 0verall). Adam Haylock outsprinted Mike Furness to 21st and 22nd places respectively which comfortably gave LBAC the Team prize. Laura Brine was first lady home for the club in 1:36:36 with all 4 of the ladies finishing easily in the top 20. The full list of LBAC finishers is below.
In summary, Great route, well organised, well supported by spectators and marshals and would recommend it to anyone looking to do a local long distance trail run.