Race 3: Ham Riverside Trail Challenge

This was put on by SLOW as a trail challenge – a different format race, designed to attract runners. The key differences to a normal O race were the mass start, the 10km quoted being the shortest practical distance rather than the straight line distance, and being able to see the map – with route – well before the race start. Also, all the controls were on paths and the most obvious route choices involved paths and roads, so there was no need to go into vegetation – just as well at this time of year with waist high grass.

The map was big – it was A3 and drawn to the ISSOM sprint race standard. I spent the time before the start coming up with unusual ways to do the tricker legs. Despite this being a trail challenge there were plenty of real orienteering legs, with great route choice. After four legs through Ham Riverside, with its tricky path network, there were three longer legs through the suburb of Ham – via Ham Common which was surprisingly technical. The race finished with three legs through the westernmost part of Richmond Park itself, a very pleasant, but quite hilly area.

I really enjoyed the challenge and was pleased to finish fourth out of around 50 runners, although well behind the first three. As I haven’t run a “formal” 10km distance race before, my time – 47:39 – represents my 10km PB. I would hope to get this down to around 40 minutes if I was on a track, though.

Having the race start and end near the Ranelagh Harriers clubhouse was great – hot showers, and somewhere dry to get changed and recover. As it was raining during the race, with a thunderstorm overhead at one point, these were much welcomed, as was the pub around the corner.

Routegadget route.

My route from 5 to 6. Most others took a route quite a bit further west.

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