Where Benfleet, Essex
When May 11, 2008
First Man Peter Smale 29:02
First Woman Sharon Garrard 36:57
Last Finisher 1:11:25
No. of Finishers 244
Road runners looking to satisfy their curiosity about the delights of going rural could do worse than try the Bluebell 5 in south-east Essex.
It’s a prime example of what off-road running is all about, containing all the essential elements, such as varied, unpredictable and sometimes treacherous terrain; confusing changes of direction; narrow tracks; brambles and nettles lying in wait for unsuspecting calves; tree stumps that only hove into view at the last split-second; and, of course, plenty of mud to slip about in.
Nearly 250 runners turned up to enjoy the fun this year, and were also presented with the extra challenge of a seriously hot sun beating down on them as they made their way round the two-lap course.
Despite the challenging nature of the route, the race organisers made sure everything ran smoothly, and the attitude of the marshals seemed to be to treat everyone as a novice and to bellow raucous encouragement at everyone in equal measure – no bad thing when your lungs are at bursting point.
People considering running this race in the future should remember two things: the cake stand at the finish line is regarded by race veterans to be unrivalled; and leave your watch and PB aspirations at home – you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery and race experience a whole lot more.