Sudbury 10K- Warning- Contains HILLS!
When looking at the Stort 30 training schedule, this weekend I needed to do 5 miles. I looked online for a 10K race instead, not too far away and I found the Success after Stroke Sudbury 5K and 10K. I was in two minds as the day before I was scheduled to entertain more than 30 people for a BBQ, but when Martin Burke (race director) checked with the landowners that it was OK for Rafa to run with me, it sealed the deal.
There was very little information about this race online (this year was only its second event). It was described as ‘multi-terrain, undulating and on private grounds normally closed to the public’. I asked the flyers if anyone had run it before (unknown at that point it had only happened once before). Nobody knew, nobody was doing it.
When I arrived, I soon got the feeling that the run might be a bit hilly! I went to find the race director to identify myself as the ‘dog runner’ but instead found the estate owners. They were both very keen on Rafa, as dog owners themselves, and asked lots of questions and petted him, calling friends over to see him to. The lady of the estate asked if Rafa liked Deer and Donkeys as the route had them on course. Also, geese. There were many many lakes on route. She suggested that the male donkey would probably chase us when he saw Rafa! Thankfully, she confirmed he was in a paddock! Phew!
The couple gave me a ‘brief’ history of the Auberies Estate, where the run takes place. I was advised that it has a very famous (in the art world) oak tree, which featured in Gainsboroughs painting, ‘Mr and Mrs Andrews’ (I have googled the picture and it means nothing to me, I’m so uncultured!). The Auberies Estate Farm includes an English country house that still runs much as it did back in Mr and Mrs Andrews’ day (the 1700’s). The gate tucked away in a wood signposted Private, the long tree-lined drive to the house. You half expect to be chased off the land by a game keeper with a gun in their hand, but actually as soon as I drove onto the grass in front of the house, as guided by the marshals, I found the owner, Nigel, who was very proud to tell me of the estates claim to fame. He inherited the Auberies from his father, who inherited it from his. They are not related to the Andrews in the picture. Online searches showed that his family have been there since about 1850. The painting is not at the Auberies- although his family did try to buy it in the 60’s when it went to auction. The lady of the estate kindly took a photograph of Rafa and I, and off to the start line we went.
As said before, it was only the second time of hosting the event. The lady of the estate advised me that it was very hilly, and asked if Rafa liked hills! I was told it was 2 loops, because some people would be doing a 5k. It wasn’t chip timed, and there didn’t seem to be many affiliated club runners. There were portoloos a plenty, which were already pretty grim by 9.30am, and there seemed to be more people in hi-vis than in running wear!
We started from the back as requested, and Rafa was keen, initially pulling me on the flat to a pace of 7 minute miles. I quickly had to slow him down as the hills reared their ugly head! It was well sign posted for the distance and so many marshals on hand to cheer and guide. The sun broke out and I was really struggling with the heat- it was up and down continuously, limited recovery from one hill before the next one was there! And all the time, I was thinking ‘I’ve got to do this all again!’ Rafa was struggling with the heat so the muzzle came off and he needed lots of water- which is the only negative really of the organisation of the run- no water available on route! Rafa had a little race with the male donkey- the lady of the estate came out to that exact part of the course to photograph Rafa running with him! We also encountered deer and geese. The grounds were stunning, and definitely worth a visit- which you can only do at events like this. The terrain was a mix of grassy fields and stoney paths- no tarmac. The ground was hard due to the time of year, which was hard on the knees!
When we finished the race, which was very slightly over 6.2KM, I checked the elevation- 528ft. No wonder I was struggling! There was plenty of water available at the end, and there was the most amazing collection of cakes (Richard Pryor!) that was actually available from the start- and so many had been made that although I was one of the last finishers, and everyone seemed to be stuffing their face with cake, there was loads left!
If you are one of the speedy flyers, sign up for this next year- I think you will have a good chance of being placed as it’s a quiet run (probably about 100 in the field!). If you like trail, the countryside, nature, canicross and cake it is a great run. The friendliest bunch of marshals you could meet too! Just take your own fluids on route!
If you dislike elevation, you will dislike this race. At 50 miles away from Southend, and not a great deal of PB potential some may not consider the race worth it. The medal was OK. Nothing special but was engraved with the details of the race.
I will return next year if my training plan permits, to try and better my own time. I will never be competitive in this beast!