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Sunday 20 February 2022

Tempo Winter 10k Series: Ilmington Hill, Sausages & Hoodies

Today’s run manta was mostly “Don’t get blown off the hill! Don’t get blown off the hill!” as Storm Eunice really tried it’s very best to persuade me to take a shortcut down the hillside to the village. It probably would have been a lot quicker but I do prefer my bones unbroken. Plus I had to actually cross the finish line to get my hoody rather than just get blown in the general direction. 

I DEFINITELY spotted the photographer!
(Pic by OxonRacesPhotos)

Today’s run was the last 10k in the Tempo Winter 10k race series. There are 5 races in the series and the first is in October and the rest are every month until the final one in February. The races are famous for handing out packet of sausages for a completed event rather than a medal. - much more practical and delicious - and for awarding the runners who complete all 5 events a very warm and much coveted hoody! If you do miss a race, you still have a chance at the hoody if you volunteer at one of Tempo’s events to make up for non-appearance

                                                    Woo!! Better than a medal!!                                

The Ilmington 10k races are not just famous for good sausages and hoodies though. They are also notorious for a rather horrible and lengthy climb. This climb, namely Larkstoke Hill is the highest point in Warwickshire and there’s a 2km climb to the summit. Just what you want in the middle of a 10k race. Right? Right? Anyone? *tumbleweed*

I work shifts and I rarely have regular weekends off so it was surprise to me when I checked back in the summer that every single race fell on a rest day from work. It was clearly meant to be so I signed up for all 5 events. 

I then did an Ironman, was incapable of actually staying ON the bike, fell off and broke some ribs. So Race 1 was with broken ribs. Luckily Rich was recovering from surgery so we hobbled, walked and a did a small amount of running for event 1. Enough to get round, get the sausages and tick off race one. Then brunch with Rugby Tri at Lighthorne Pavilion Cafe. Nice. If somewhat fragrant sitting around a table with 8 other runners who had just run the 10k and believed in food before showers. Cake before Cleanliness clearly. 

                                                    Cold and stinky. Good food though!

Race 2 was … a no go. I went to Scotland, promptly got COVID and was isolated in my room with Netflix, the cats and room service for 10 days. It was amazing. Apart from not being able to do the race. I contacted Tempo Events who assured me that I could volunteer at one of their other events  and have that count towards the race so I wouldn’t miss out on the hoody! Phew!

Race 3 … post Christmas, post COVID. I’d like to say I DIDN’T eat all the pies over Christmas but I’d clearly be lying. Totally worth it. Well. On the downhills anyway. Gravity was my friend for the downhills.  Turned up at Ilmington and it appeared that Warwickshire had saved up all the rain for race day. It wasn’t just drizzling or spotting or piddling. It was absolutely pissing it down. And washing all manner of mud, muck, sticks and crap down the road for us to enjoy as we were running. Rich and I ran together again. He’s organised. He knows all his splits and what times he wants to be at certain places. Me? I’m there for the sausages and the hoody at the end. But I’ll tag along for a chat and to annoy Rich. I mean. Keep him company. Met Leah on this run! Super ultrarunner, optimistic and enthusiastic! She spotted my ASICS FrontRunner top and started chatting as she said she said she knew that if I was a FrontRunner I must be friendly! (What a nice thing to be a part of!). She was great company and we ran all the way fro the top of Larkstoke Hill together until she smashed in a fast finish with about half a kilometre to go. Also we found an awesome pub with an open fire, sofas and who weren’t averse to smelly runners coming and eating all the food. 

                                                I spotted the photographer again!
(Pic by OxonRacesPhotos)

Race 4 was run in the opposite direction. Which was confusing and horrific. And meant that the hill was near the end of the run. What a horrible thing to do. Turns out the event goes opposite directions each time but due to me getting the plague for race 2 this was first time I’d ‘enjoyed’ the race this way around. Basically it went ‘well because you have’t tired yourself out going up a 2km hill in the first 4 km, you’ll go too fast for your current level of fitness for the first 6km and then want a nice sit down around 8km’. Rich knew his splits and wasn’t shifting from them despite my whining and wanting a sit down. Luckily Leah was running with us too and distracted me from the misery of ‘Hills In The Wrong Place’. Had a pizza at the awesome pub. Things started looking better once I forget about the hill.  

Race 5 was lovely. The hill was in the right place again at kilometre 1 and I started off running with Rich and Leah but got distracted by MASSIVE WIND. Not the baked beans type but the Storm Eunice type. It was a headwind going up the hill but that didn’t really matter as I was going sloth in treacle speed but at the top, the sidewinds were quite immense. To the extent you were running leaning slightly sideways, but when there was a bit of shelter you’d find yourself at the other side of the road due to overcompensating for the wind … which was suddenly not there. Very odd. There was a tailwind heading down the hill which you you couldn’t feel - just the absence of wind. But by the time the long hill was done, it was just the slog through the village to the sausages. And the hoody! Which was purple, snuggly and earned with 40k of running a days volunteering! 

                    Rugby Tri in the pub with our hard-earned hoodies! (Neal W's photo)

What a horrific hill. I’ll be back. I’m now addicted to sausages and want another hoody. 

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