What Goes Up, Must Come Down

By Kas Gardner

I’ve never run a 15 mile race before so at least at the Folksworth 15 I was guaranteed a PB, even if this race has the reputation of being the hilliest in Cambridgeshire.

The Folksworth 15 is put on by Yaxley Runners and HQ is a primary school with proper changing rooms and toilets. Plus they’ve put out a shed load of portaloos in the community centre grounds that’s about 50 metres away.

We had to park around half a mile away (some had to park even further away) but Yaxley Runners had organised cars to ferry you from the car parks to the race HQ and were waiting by the race HQ to whisk you back there after you’d finished.

The course is a challenging two lap route along undulating, open country roads near Peterborough. There are three hills on each lap. The first one isn’t so bad, the second one was a long drag (which I struggled on), and the third one is a bit like running up Shenley Hill.

I wanted a hard effort so that I could set my expectations and get used to racing up and down the hills, ready for the Boston Marathon. So the plan was to set out at 2 hour pace (8 min/mile) which is slightly faster than my half marathon PB and see how long I could hold on for. Anything around half marathon PB pace would be a progression as that was set on a distinctly flatter course.

The start was at little underwhelming. I started not too far from the front of the pack but it was still a bit like Milton Keynes parkrun, where you don’t hear the start it’s just everyone in front of you starts running.

I ran the second half of the first lap and most of the second lap to-ing and fro-ing with a lady called Sarah from Fenland Running Club, but she got away from me when I stopped for some water at 11.5 miles and I never really caught her up again – I still can’t manage drinking from cups while running without spilling it down me or snorting it back up!

Looking at the results from last year it seemed to attract a speedy bunch of runners, and that proved the same this year. The first male finished in 1:20 and first female finished in 1:36. I finished in 2:00:56 for 37th female and 6th in my age category – just a little outside my target of 2 hours so I was more than happy.

The course is well marshalled, and the marshals are all friendly and encouraging with some ringing bells and others playing music. And there are four water stations out on the course at approximately 4 miles, 7 miles, 9 miles, and 11.5 miles.

There is no medal for the Folksworth 15, like the Leighton 10 they give you a technical T-shirt. But the best part for me was that they do a ladies XS sized t-shirt! Again, just like the Leighton 10. There is also water and a range of edible goodies such as chocolate, energy bars and Dolly Mixtures at the finish line. The chip timing also enables you to pop to the back of the black van and to get an immediate printout of your result. Then afterwards you can go to the little community centre and get a bacon butty or sausage sarnie and hot drink for £3.

It’s a great event for anyone starting spring marathon training, and if like me you want to do it next year then you’ll need to be quick when entries open because entries are limited and it sells out.