The Batty Bimble is a 3.1 mile ‘there and back’ race at the Hogmoor Enclosure which is an old tank testing site. The event lasts for 6 hours and you can do as many ‘laps’ as you like. I was told that they only allow a few hundred people to do the race in order to maintain the community and fun feel and that the aid stations were amazing – this sounded like my kind of race!! Unfortunately it was sold out but I went on the waiting list and managed to pick up a cancellation place right at the last minute.
Instructions and pre-event info was all great, you pick up the race number at the start so super easy and convenient. The weather was absolutely rank but the organisers had warned us in advance and seemed to be monitoring very closely throughout in case it became dangerous but in reality it was just a bit cold, really wet and a bit windy!
I met up with Susie, Shaun and Emma beforehand and spent 20 minutes trying to decide what to take over to the start – as usual I was completely unprepared with kit and overprepared with food which says a lot about my running! I had even packed a cool back with some chorizo, arancini and a chicken wrap but in my usual genius way I left this in the car! Despite this I still had plenty of snacks (M&Ms, crisps, topics, ensure milkshakes etc) – all completely unnecessary as the aid van at the start was packed full of all of the best running food you can imagine but I never like to be short on eats!
I had intended to run the full 6 hours but the others were all planning to do about 20 miles and the rain was pretty bad so I was starting to think that maybe 20 miles and a cup of tea might be an ok result given the conditions! Shaun whizzed off at the start while Susie, Emma and I took a more leisurely pace, chatting the whole way. Susie and Emma were using this as a training run and were planning to stop at 20 miles. I probably set out a bit too quick if I was going to do the 6 hours but I was just enjoying the banter and was thinking I might finish at 20 miles and get that cup of tea! That’s the challenge with these lap events – knowing that you can just stop every time you get back to the start is a really evil temptation!
The ground was compact trails and a bit of sand but nothing to worry about – no need for gaiters or any of that stuff. It got a little bit tricky as the rain kept coming but apart from my feet being pretty soggy it was a really nice course to run. The best bit was the fact that you kept passing the same people on the ‘back again’ bit of every lap and everyone would shout words of encouragement to each other as they came past. It’s a completely unique experience for me and I loved it – you sort of feel like you get to know the other runners a bit and then you chat to them at the aid station too which makes it into a really friendly race.
It was great chatting to the organisers at the van too – they are clearly runners and love what they do – this race wasn’t a big commercial animal but just a group of people who love running trying to deliver a race for people like them. The beauty of the 3 mile (and a bit) laps is that you can do as many as you want – if you do one lap you get a medal – no elitism around distance or time at all – just a bit of running and some banter. This really resonates with me and I was starting to really enjoy myself in spite of the horrible weather! The others all stopped around 20 miles as planned but I was having such a laugh that I decided to push on and do the full 6 hours. It was a bit of a trudge from me towards the end to be honest – I think I must have twisted my ankle somewhere as it swelled up like a balloon the next day and this meant I had to do quite a bit of walking in the latter stages but I don’t mind that and I wanted to see out the 6 hours. I finished my 9th and last lap at 5hrs and 34 mins which put me in 8th place which is the highest I’ve ever placed so of course I was delighted with that!
This race wont be for everyone, especially if laps aren’t your thing but I absolutely loved it (personally I think it’s mentally easier to count down 10 laps than 30 miles.) But if you are looking for a trail race that’s accessible to everyone, with great food, great banter and organised by runners who know their stuff then this is the race for you!
If you want to check out some of the races by the same organiser then go to: http://www.onthewhistle.co.uk