Willow Tree Wander Results & Report
A small but perfectly formed field of runners and walkers took part in our first venture in foreign territory. It was a long journey for some, but was worth it for the lovely area and excellent venue and food.
The course had a tough start with a not particularly steep hill, but a long one. The route then skirted the village of Glemsford with a few ups and downs before the final descent back down the initial hill to the finish. Howard and I came in from the cold to watch from the warmth of the café as the runners made the final descent.
Not too many problems apart from a lot of overshooting the metal bars in the EP and one instance of TL over FB instead of TR not over FB.
Allen ran to a convincing win ahead of Dan and Ian. Lynn picked up another win with Vicky just behind and Rozlyn in third spot.
We would love to get more people to experience this area and venue, but the Willow Farm Café is such a popular place now a weekend event is not possible. We really thank them for opening up just for us.
BACK TO EDWARDSTONE
It was a beautiful sunny morning when I arrived at Edwardstone which must be one of the most remote villages to get to with no major road for miles around. Many years ago Colchester Joggers ran trails from here and I was looking forward to going back.
I was a few minutes early for the 10 o’clock opening of the car park, but not surprised to see people already there.
John was on car parking duty and Clare was taking a leaf out of my book by not letting people go before the designated start time. For those that don’t realise start times are usually set so that the pub will actually be open and ready for customers when you finish. Maybe people ask road race organisers if they can start early but I don’t think so, they certainly never asked me.
At 10.33 I was off and quickly into the woods. Clare had advised trail shoes, but the ground had dried up really quickly so road shoes would have been a better option. A varied route with quite a lot of enclosed paths, good tracks and surprisingly few hills made for a quite speedy race despite a fair few stiles. Just one fartlek session through the cattle, but they were more scared of me.
As I was one of the first to start I saw most of the field as they passed me (some twice) including Allen who was running back along the course to meet Fay after winning by almost eight minutes. Paul and John were second and third. Keeley won from Lynn and Jess in the ladies 7.5 mile event. In the shorter route Julia won outright by five minutes from Lee, Gavin and Ele with Steve and Denise completing the top threes.
Although it had now clouded over most of the finishers were outside at the picnic tables taking in the delights of the White Horse. Thanks Clare and John and Mid Essex Casuals for a great event from a grand venue.
After recent indifferent weather we were blessed with a great night for running, although it was somewhat cold for us sat at registration.
It was nice to see some new faces as well as all our regulars. There were a few tales of woe, but most seemed to enjoy it and all came home. After last year’s twisty course we made this one much more straightforward, but had to change the course a little bit particularly through the rapeseed. We expected fast times and we got them.
Adam seems to have found the compromise between running fast and misreading the instructions and running slower and following the actual course. He is now running fast and going the right way and claimed another win. It’s nice to see Roy back on the trails and he was a close second. Phil was the last to start but finished in third spot after you had all trampled the undergrowth for him.
Lynn again won the ladies with Vicky not far behind and Christine in third.
We have a load more races coming up see our events page for details.
ANOTHER SEARCH FOR BLUEBELLS
It was a lovely morning for Another Search for Bluebells and the sunshine made the views all the better. It was a course with a bit of everything and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone. A path was kept clear for us by a couple of local farmers, one of whom, Natalie, has run in several of our races.
The rains of the last week had caused it to be a muddy affair, but apart from a couple of people slipping over added to the fun.
The Castle were again very accommodating, we just need them to move the loos a bit closer.
As for the race, Antony absolutely stormed around to win by nearly ten minutes ahead of Myles and Phil. Hilda won the ladies again by a clear margin from Hannah and Sarah.
We have a couple of races in May then a whole host in June which will be opening for entries in the near future.
FOR HORSES FOUR COURSES FIRST FURLONG
Normally Clare and John do their Tattingstone races from the Wheatsheaf so my automatic pilot took me there. Without stopping I realised my mistake and I travelled through Tattingstone itself for the first time to reach the White Horse.
There were maybe six cars already in the parking field to which I was expertly guided by John. I took some left over crème eggs to Clare and she said despite the start time being 11 o’clock several people had already gone almost an hour early.
I set off down the hill and onto the banks of the reservoir for a fast and attractive first mile (the course not me). The major road crossing held me up for quite a while and I was soon up the rise passing the caution runners sign which was a clue to the return journey. Rich T overtook me after a couple of miles and I never saw anyone else on the long course after that.
Down a lovely grass track to the A14/A12 junction I knew I would have to regain the lost height somewhere and the drive up from Belstead Hall would certainly make a good hill session. Past a group of suspicious cars and then down a long track. Turning left at a marker post there was suddenly, a hundred yards in front of me, a rainbow of runners. I thought I was joining the short route and would possibly catch some people. But when I crossed the field the instructions sent me right on a track into a wood.
Through the only mud on the course there was a good show of bluebells to my right. I rejoined the return route crossed the road with ease and was pleased to turn off on one of the many footpaths I’d noted on the way out.
Back at the pub early finishers were at picnic tables in the garden and I joined them with a pint of Mauldons Coronation Ale and a packet of cheese and onion in very pleasant conditions.
Thanks to Clare and John for a great course and venue
Weatherwise three out of four ain’t bad as a total of 240 competitors took part in this year’s Easter Eggstravaganza. 60 runners will share the £700+ prize fund.
DAY 1 - PLEASE FORM A QUEUE
The sun was shining so joining the queue outside the hut was not a problem and it also moved quite quickly. When I arrived I had two cars trying to reverse out of the football field which was still a bit boggy after recent rains. I parked in the pub car park (but I think I got away with it) and put on some old road shoes despite the state of the parking field.
It was a bit of a twister trail as we returned to Panfield after about a mile on the short route. I was doing the short as I intended running the long on Saturday. After a couple of miles Simon and Lorraine caught me up and Lorraine asked if she could run with me. I said if she was prepared to run this slow OK. To be fair she stuck it for a couple of miles before leaving me for dead.
My choice of road shoes wasn’t too bad a decision as there were only a few slippery spots, although I nearly came a cropper in front of Andy who was waiting for Joanne to come along. My favourite part of the course was the enclosed downhill path behind the industrial estate, where first Jackie and then Bosh flashed past.
Back at the pub, my first encounter of the weekend with an arithmetically challenged barmaid. A surprisingly nice pint of Landlord and a pleasant chat in the sunshine with Snig, Mel, Ginny, Heather, Wendy, Keith and Julian amongst others.
A great start to the weekend. Thanks to Dave and Sylvie.
DAY 2 – THE EARLY BIRD THAT COULDN’T CATCH A COLD
I got to the start to an almost empty car park and parked next to Don. Nick and Peter were there and were soon joined by Andy. My legs were tired from yesterday so I decided to go for the short and also this time to wear my mudclaws (two very good decisions). They let me go early and I thoroughly enjoyed the first mile gently downhill on very familiar paths.
Justin was first to pass me at the orchards and he stormed along Graces Walk and out of sight. I plodded along through “Gay Meadow” the local dogging site even though the horns on the (docile) cattle looked quite pointy. Beside the ford which last week would have been impassable and uphill across the field that last time I was there had 8ft tall sweetcorn growing in it. Through the paddocks and back across the earlier field but higher up I met a couple of chaps with huge back packs training for the West Highland Way. In the following enclosed mud bath I ducked to avoid a low branch and my glasses slipped off my face. At first glance I couldn’t see them but luckily they had hit a nice soft bit and were undamaged.
Then through the horse field and I was caught up and overtaken by Ian and Christine. Back up through and around Blakes Wood (a few bluebells – be good in a couple of weeks) to chicken korma hill. I do know a few ways around this but the course was through the middle so through the middle it was. I saw quite a few people just starting out as I finished. Just as I finished Mamie and Ben arrived after going to Sunday’s venue by mistake.
I have never been a fan of Shepherd Neame and after another encounter with a bewildered by voucher barmaid I purchased a pint of Maverick (so bitter just like all their other ales). Again sat in the sunshine and had a pleasant chat.
Thanks Andy, Nick, Steve and Gerry for two excellent routes.
DAY 3 – ON THE FLIGHTPATH
Poor Howard had to make last minute changes as the original venue at Mole Hill Green had a waterlogged parking field. Helen and I arrived to another almost empty car park as
I had forgotten it was a 10.30 start. Howard had managed to utilise most of the original route so plane spotters weren’t disappointed.
Helen set off with Ann. As they were walking I gave them a 20 minute start. In fact Bosh finished before I’d started so I knew the time to beat (haha). I’d been going for about a minute when Jackie sprinted past. It’s hard even for me to believe that I used to run at that speed many years ago.
After a couple of miles I caught Helen and Ann and then followed a long enclosed path beside the golf course. Through Elsenham and then back across fields to the airport and the smell of fuel. The route then followed the airport perimeter with planes just feet above our heads.
I was really feeling it as I rarely run two days on the trot yet alone three and was glad to finish back at the pub. Yet another meeting this time with the most bewildered pair of barmaids of the weekend who just looked at me when I queried my (short) change and had no idea how to take a voucher and some cash even using a calculator. Pint of Heresy by the way, very nice. Again a nice sit outside in the sun watching the planes coming in to land.
Helen and Ann were the last to finish and Helen was quite shaky. But it was actually Ann who had been bitten by a dog and had to go to A&E (Ann that is not the dog).
Well done Howard and Katia for making it possible for us all still to have a run to go to.
DAY 4 – THE ONE WITH THE CRÈME EGG
The Coronation is next month, but the rain started here.
What a poxy morning. Last year we were out on the decking in the sunshine, this time Ben the landlord sited us in luxury accommodation in the dry.
During the week I had posted on Facebook that 55% of the entrants for this race were women and remarked that perhaps more races should have chocolate at the finish. This offended some people on Facebook. I took down the post. Quite a few finishers commented that they had been looking forward to their egg all the way round.
The course which had been concrete hard on Sunday was concrete slippy now and everyone was well mud-splattered at the finish and were under strict orders not to go in the pub with muddy shoes. Thank you all. We couldn’t believe how mud free the bar was.
Thanks to my lovely assistant on the day and for checking the route instructions.
A FEW STATISTICS
Over the four days
240 different runners/walkers took part
12 from Billericay
19 from Halstead
26 from Little Baddow
58 from Mid Essex Casuals
35 from Springfield Striders
12 from Tiptree
WET, WET, WET
Three times we’ve been here and three times it has precipitated down. We’re thinking of doing a Christmas run from here called the Reindeer trail because it has rained here every time we’ve been.
A small field was further shrunk by no shows, so many thanks to those who came through hell and high water to get here. I drove past Neil in Finchingfield and offered him a lift, but that wasn’t in his training plan, so continued my journey trying (unsuccessfully) not to hit too many water filled potholes.
Of course Richard was there before me and Howard who arrived two minutes later. There were some entertaining parking manoeuvres in the car park which we watched from the comfort of the bar.
We had such a small field that we let people go when they were ready with not much adherence to start times. When John finished in a good time we knew the instructions were OK and soon the runners returned in dribs and drabs (mainly dribs) and kept the mud to the car park. All finished in good time i.e. before the pub closed and most seemed happy if a little cold.
John’s time stood right through to claim another win. Lorraine took the ladies prize.
We expected Neil to sponge a lift back to Dunmow, but he didn’t throw in the towel as he had important business in the Red Lion, Finchingfield and the Vine at Great Bardfield on his run back to catch the X30 back to Southend.
Thanks again to the Horse and Groom for their hospitality and see you all at Easter.
Delayed by a week so we avoided the snow; just another seven days of rain to add to your pleasure.
When Howard wrote up the route it was nice and dry. When I checked it out last week it was monsoon like horizontal rain and freezing.
It was wet as I drove to Stebbing, but it seems to have held off for most of the 44 intrepid runners. Only a few tales of losing the course, but everyone got back to the pub in reasonable time. Adam who has been known to add to the official distance in the past had no trouble at all to win in a very impressive time of 39.53. First ladies were Keely and Lynn just five minutes back.
Thanks to everyone for not bringing mile 4 mud into the pub and well done all for running in the challenging conditions.
That’s it for the head torches until October, but plenty of Wednesday evening runs to come.
After several wet and cold days it was nice to run in the dry and mild at Mid Essex Casuals’ Presentation Trail. It was however quite wet and muddy underfoot in places.
Although I like running from Rayne, I can’t stand the boredom of the Flitch Way so it was great to only encounter about 100 metres of it. It has also been sometime since I ran up the back of Big Bird hill.
The route then followed good tracks around to the solar farm and I popped out in Willows Green for a bit of pavement bashing, then back to the solar farm and into the southern end of Notley Park.
Then a scene reminiscent of “the Prisoner” as I passed some giant eggs. Dave didn’t make us run up Big Bird again but it is still a climb over the bridge. With Big Bird and giant eggs maybe we'll find a big nest next time we are in the park.
All in all an enjoyable route and pleasant chatter at the end.
See you all on Wednesday.
Thanks for coming to our first venture in the area. 115 runners and walkers started and 115 finished with apparently not too much trouble.
Talking of not much trouble the overall winner was Jackie in a very speedy 44.08 over five minutes ahead of first man Paul. We knew it was a fast course but jeez that is a truly impressive time. Jackie usually tells us she has a niggly injury so presumably she is now back to full health.
We had lots of compliments from our regular runners on the course so to all the locals you live in a nice spot. You knew that of course.
Unfortunately the barman arrived late due to his son’s football match overrunning so there was a long queue for the bar and the barmaid thanks you all for being so patient.
The Smugglers Den was very welcoming and we will return next year.
LARK IN THE DARK
A great turnout at our latest night venture. 71 set off into the cold and 71 returned to the warmth of the Roundbush and enjoyed a curry and a pint.
After a bit of a dip in numbers we really seem to be back in the swing again and attracting runners from all over the county and even London. But it is still the same names winning the races and as with a lot of our events the ladies are well to the fore.
Lynn and Keeley combined to win outright with Philippa third overall. First man was Philippa’s running partner Andy and he was followed home by Daniel and Ian who was doing his first trail. In fact there were several people doing their first narrative trail race and in the dark too.
Unusually there weren’t many tales of woe as most of you got round without a hitch.
We will be back at this great little pub in the summer so you can see where you ran last night.
WHERE WAS SANTA?
What had been snow and ice when I checked the course before Christmas was now mud and water plus a bit more mud and water.
Howard had set a straightforward course as per normal for night races and only one group missed the three Santas turn off the never ending bridleway. There were also a few wet feet at the ford as the mighty Chelmer actually looked like a river for a change.
I walked the course with wifey and Wendy and everyone who passed by was friendly. There were some impressive head torches. I thought one was a car coming up behind us, but it was just a speedy runner. After we crossed the main road we let Ian go ahead and he crossed the stile, we walked around it. Then the shock comment of the night at the chocolate bag. “I’m too hot to eat chocolate” I couldn’t believe my ears.
Then Snig went by (pre nasty fall). Wendy commented on how long the field path was, I told her that there was far worse and longer to come. We barely went five minutes all night without someone catching us up. Sarah told us off for not glowing in the dark.
Back over the main road and along the track I mentioned that sometimes the river overflows into the path, and sure enough it had. Local knowledge took us off the path into the field and to the footbridge.
We finished just ahead of quite a large bunch to find Howard was in the bar somewhere and Dave H was in charge of the laptop. After some time he noted our time.
It was so warm in the bar we took our coats and jumpers off and now guess what? Yes it was the ideal temperature to eat chocolate.
All very sociable in the pub and thanks to Howard for another great night.