In short: Within a couple of miles of the start of this race, I realised that I had had entirely the wrong music on the car stereo on the journey to Compton. In full: Instead of Sheryl "Run Baby Run" Crow and Bruce "Born to Run" Springsteen, I really should have been listening to Paul "Slip Sliding Away" Simon. This would have been much better preparation for what was to come ...
(This is a review of the Compton 20.)
It was on a muddy woodland footpath about ten miles in that I was overtaken by a runner who spotted my lack of traction and asked very nicely "Are you wearing ordinary road shoes?". Er, yes. So what did an unprepared road runner think of this trail run?
The Compton 20 is a deservedly popular event organised by Compton Harriers, who hail from a little village in West Berkshire. There is a 20-mile run and a 40-mile run and the routes are well planned so that, at 19.5 miles, each runner can choose which course to follow. I suspect that most runners decide in advance which event they intend completing, but this is still a nice touch. As an entrant to the 20-mile event, I certainly didn't feel like a second-class citizen, so kudos to the organisers for making both fields feel welcome.
In advance of the day, the Compton Harriers website was easy to navigate and the entry procedure straightforward. Entry confirmation and race details were sent out in good time and the printed information seemed very comprehensive. In addition, the website has a wealth of files of Garmin data, elevation charts and even a Google Earth flyby. Excellent stuff!
On the day, directions to the race HQ (Compton School) were good and the parking crew very helpful. Registration was straightforward and the pre-race briefing helpful and clear. And so to the start. One lap of the school playing field, to spread the competitors out a bit, then onto the first short woodland stretch. In some places, single file running was necessary, but I suppose that those runners who were interested in a quick time were aware of this and had already got to the front.
The race instructions state that "the organisers have made no effort to avoid difficult sections" and the route presented an ever-changing mix of woodland paths and trails, open farmland including fields and tracks, occasional short sections of country lane to link the off-road bits and plenty of ups and downs. There was never time to get bored, because there was rarely more than half a mile of any particular terrain before the next change. This was an excellent introduction to trail running. I particularly enjoyed the open stretch on Lardon Chase, overlooking the Thames at Goring, and some of the open rural routes after this. The elevation chart stated that the 20-mile course included 2,200 feet of ascent. I am surprised that there was this much, as it certainly didnâ€™t seem like it, but there were a couple of "walking" hills, notably one just after the CP2 checkpoint at 10 miles.
Special thanks must go to the marshals, who were cheerfully present at all the road junctions, and to the drinks station teams. Drinks stations were nicely spaced out at around five mile intervals. The third one, designated CP3, in Bower Farmyard, was more like a sweet shop than a drinks station. Thanks for the Jelly Babies!
The finish was low key, but there was a smattering of applause from the onlookers, which was nice. Drinks were available right at the line and it was then a question of collecting a creme egg (well, it was Easter Saturday) and a very nice technical T-shirt â€“ undoubtedly my favourite this year!
Post-race facilities were very good â€“ changing facilities, hot showers and even a plate of sausages and chips which was included in the cost of the entry fee. In summary, this was a really well organised event and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who fancies trying trail running. The organisers seem to have thought of everything. It was only me who hadn't! Just remember, if it has rained heavily in the week before the event, do consider investing in a pair of trail shoes!
In short: brilliant friendly well organised fun race In full: I loved this race, the organisation was great, it seemed a lot of care was taken and a lot of effort put into the details. I've never seen flour arrows before, even in the rain they worked quite well! check points really great, and the t-shirt, easter egg, AND food at the end, was really lovely and generous. Thanks also to the marshal that gave me one of those energy squeejy things somewhere around 25 miles! Thanks to all the marshalls for spending so many hours outside and partly in the rain and for the cups of tea. great run in all respects including most beautiful spring scenery and variety of terrain. Date of review: April 4, 2010
In full: This is the first time I have run this race. I only did the twenty but very happy with the event. Thought the course was good with very friendly marshalls and well stocked water points. The tee-shirt was top quailty and the meal very enjoyable. My only criticism of the day was the flour used to mark the course seemed to be missing in places, this did not effect my run as there was always people in front to follow, but would cause me concern if the field was more spread out. Maybe this would not have been the case if it had not rained so much the night before, and washed the flour away, but in my opinion I feel laminated paper or card arrow markers would have been better. Look forward to coming back hopefully next year and maybe having a go at the forty. Date of review: April 4, 2010
In short: Excellent, well-organised, friendly race, with hills and mud and views In full: Compton 20 (something wrong with the Runners World links here): I knew what to expect from last year so enjoyed the hills. Lots of variety, very little tarmac, friendly marshals and well placed water stations. Great shirt. PB for me (but only 20 miler I've done). Date of review: April 4, 2010
In short: What a gem of a race! In full: Fantastic scenery, a good challenging route, well-organised, friendly marshalls, and there can't be many events that provide you with snacky bits at the check-points and a meal at the finish and a quality t-shirt, all for Â£15. Well done Compton - I have never run in this area before, but I will be back. Date of review: April 3, 2010
In short: Great Day out In full: Very good race , and while I know it is not the done thing, just the occassional distance marker would have been nice. Enjoyed the day , the weather was great, the views fantastic and will be back next year Date of review: April 14, 2009
In short: First cross country and wow....just wow. In full: I take my hat off to Compton Harriers for organising this, incredibly helpful marshalls and the check points with food as well as drinks were well stocked. The scenery at certain points (if you remebered to look around) was just stunning. Thank you Compton Harriers for a brillaint race. Date of review: April 14, 2009