Bluebell 5 Report by Graham Purdham

Well whilst the main body of Flyers headed across the channel to run the mysterious Bruges distance of 15k  Anne and I decided to run the very local (almost) 5 mile Bluebell run at Little Havens.

We were joined, also in Flyers colours, by Debbie Docherty and Debbie Wood (along with Debbie D’s friend Jan) and by Colin Dunn who was running for Castlepoint Joggers.

We did this race last year so knew to turn up slightly early at Deanes School to guarantee a parking space and duly completed the entry application in a few minutes. Being prepared did leave us with over an hour to while away until the race but at least we were avoiding any pre-race worries about being late!

So from Deanes School gates it is about a half a mile up Daws Heath road to the course and as the sun was out and the wind had dropped it was actually quite pleasant to saunter up to the start. On the way we ran into Colin who had been onto the course to ascertain if trainers or off road shoes were best. Off road shoes were the order of the day so he was nipping back to the car park to get his. I was already wearing mine whilst Anne had hers in her bag (yeah us for prep).

When we got to the starting area it was awash with marshals preparing to head out over the course whilst only a few early bird runners peered over the course to see if they could glean any advantages (no to that by the way). So a brief stroll before the masses arrived, a quick hello to Daphne and Nick Pugh who were marshalling. Another greeting to Barbara Brady, who we had been marshalling with last week at the London marathon who took a quick picture of Anne and me as we had no phone for a selfie.

A few minutes before the start and the two Debbies strolled onto the course and then wegp3 were being called to the start for a quick briefing before the klaxon sounded and we were away – straight into the first bend that immediately log jammed with wannabe fast runners.  I went wide to avoid the melee but Anne said it took her some 30 seconds to get away. However this obstacle over, the runners were now in a nice orderly queue and able to cross over a field and then into the woods.

The course was two laps and took us down through some woods, over some good paths, around some more fields before taking us back up over yet more fields ( all very scenic, honestly) before we were funnelled onto some paths ( one of which was ankle deep in rank stagnant water and mud for some 20 yards. No avoiding this and phew it stank. From here we  slowly climbed a gentle slope before heading back into woodland and more steady climbing that gradually sapped the sprint from your legs as you wound around muddy, but generally firm, paths before finally coming out above the woods and below the finish area that sat  up a hill to our left. Of course knowing where we would end up didn’t mean that we could head there yet. Instead we turned right with woods to our right and followed a field edge path for some 200 yards before rounding some bushes and heading up the hill to the finish. Of course we still had one more lap to go so the finish was still 2.5 miles away even though it was actually within spitting distance.

gp2So one more lap. Lots of spaces between runners now and few overtaking opportunities available for faster runners coming through unless someone slowed down or managed to find a faster gear.  At times the course allowed the leaders, now some goodly portion of a mile ahead to come into view as they double back on the course. As I had been running fairly conservatively (keen to avoid aggravating my recent injury and not daring enough to push it) I was able to keep a pretty steady pace and enjoy the shouts of support from the marshals from the various running clubs and the ever generous family and friends of participants who obviously loved to get involved in the day with friendly yells of encouragement to all who ran past them.

So finally back to the last hill. I was feeling good and did close on the runner finishing ahead of me but he was too far ahead to be bothered by my belaboured sprint.

Over the line in some 37.49. Not too bad for an off road 5 mile but Mr Garmin showed it was only 4.8 so not quite so good. I was soon followed by Colin and then Anne came across the line being duly followed by the two Debbies.

Of course it’s always fun to wind up someone as they can see the finish line and are focused in looking ahead. A call of “look out, they’re catching you” can provoke some worthy sprints for the tired but still competitive runner. I duly obliged when Anne got to within 30 yards of the finish and had the satisfaction of seeing her accelerate up the hill to a storming finish. I suppose it helped that she had been about to be challenged by a runner who saw the opportunity to pick up a place and had her hopes dashed by Anne’s final sprint.

We were then joined by Vanessa Bonney and very friendly dog Bertie. Vanessa was thoroughly frustrated at being unable to run due to injury as this was her (very) local event with her cottage being only a few fields away. We were delighted as she then very bravely invited us mud smeared runners back to her lovely cottage for coffee and cake. There we were introduced to her equally friendly cat whilst we relaxed in the increasing amounts of sunshine. A really rather perfect end to a lovely morning.

So next year if you’re not heading out to Bruges, I would recommend this very friendly and well organised run. Nice and cheap to at £8 on the day or £7 if pre-booked. Finishers even get a free hot drink back at Deanes. What more could you ask (and before you do it was still a bit early for booze).

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