The 3rd race of the series was a 3x2 Mile relay race with the teams being made up using the runner's previous times in order to attempt to give each team a fair chance of winning. I was selected to be in team D along with Ben Sowden and Arthur Dunne.
A quick discussion of tactics before the race lead to us opting to run in an order which saw us get progressively faster as the race unfolded. Ben would go first, then Arthur and finally me. The country park is made up of a pleasant patchwork of fields, meadows and copses. The takes in a mixture of hard surfaces, dirt paths and grass - as it was summer, all were very runable in road shoes but I had chosen to go for my light trail shoes, which were also fine.
The race got under at around 7.15pm and the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed - it felt a bit like hanging out at a friend's garden. As I was running my team's third leg I spent the first part of the evening chatting and milling around, then once our first runner, Ben, had returned and Arthur had set off, I thought it was probably time to have a second warm-up (the first was my cycle ride over to the venue).
When I caught sight of Arthur returning to the change-over zone, I got in a good position, we tagged and off I went. Anyone local to Dartford will no doubt be aware that Darenth Country Park is adjacent to Gore Hill and just hearing the name strikes fear into the hearts of many local runners (you run up it at the 10 mile point in the Dartford Half Marathon). Anyway after an initial stretch on a gravelly path, the route turned into Candle Field where a good chunk of the Gore Hill incline was run. I kept my pace under strict control as it would have been so easy to burn out early on.
The runners followed the obvious mowed grass route around the edge of the field before being directed into the next field 'Saxon Ground'. This was the site of ancient Saxon burials and to date 12 graves have been discovered here along with many Saxon artifacts, including a completely intact glass bowl dating back to AD450 - This is apparently on display in Dartford Borough Museum, I must go and have a look.
|thanks to richey for the running photo|
After running through Darenth Meadow the runners then had a short downhill section along the edge of Hogtrough before joining another gravelly path which went past Southern Rest (cemetery) and onto the avenue of Horse Chestnut trees which line Southern Drive. This section was also downhill and very fast. It lead back down almost to the lowest point of the course - this might sound good however we now had to go almost right back up to the highest point of the course.
After the long slog back up, there was only 1 kilometre left, and as I had already taken a peek at the course profile I knew that it was all flat/downhill from here, so felt more comfortable increasing the pace. This lead along the edges of Hogtrough, Swaisland and then back into Candle Field where it was time to head back down the first incline. The very last section was a sprint back along the opening gravelly path to the start/finish/change-over point.
With that all over it was time to reflect on what had been a thoroughly enjoyable summers evening. The hosts Dartford Road Runners had put on another brilliant event and brought with them a fantastic vibe. The results for this series are being published in order of age grading instead of finishing time and it really is making things feel very inclusive. Also, while club shirts are welcome the overall theme has been for runners to take part wearing regular running attire and again this has helped to create a very inclusive atmosphere.
|darenth country park|
There was a prize for the fastest team of the evening, which was team L who each received a small bottle of Prosecco as a prize. My team finish 8th out of the 17 teams. The full results were up the next morning and I ran the hilly 2 mile course in 13.18 which made me the third fastest runner of the evening (11th by age grading).
I have managed to move up to 5th position in the overall points table for the series (points are awarded based on age grading for that particular race). This is down to two of the runners that were ahead of me did not run rather than any exceptional performance by me. The consolidated points table can be found via this link - Run>Dartford Series 2016 Point Table
Position (age graded): 11th
Full Results: Darenth Country Park 3 x 2 Mile Race 2016
Age Grading: 62.47%
Current Points in Table: 192.89 (overall 5th)