Pewsey Terminator

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55 days to go…

After a couple of decent but uneventful weeks of marathon training I thought I’d mix it up this weekend with a race.  Many of the training plans advise you to do a half marathon at around this time, but I thought I’d do something a bit different, so entered the Pewsey Terminator.

Although less than 12 miles, it’s definitely a much more challenging prospect than your average half marathon.  Two water crossings, four fairly brutal climbs and lots and lots of mud meant that it more than lived up to its name.

The race starts in the beautiful Wiltshire village of Pewsey, just south of Marlborough, known mainly for the White Horse cut out of chalk on a hill about a mile south of the village.

The first four miles were relatively flat and fast, starting on the roads then running alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal. Except, that is, for the bit where you crossed a stream and quagmire which had one unfortunate runner up to his waist in mud. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or wade in and help him, but ever the team player I chose the former and forged on ahead (although annoyingly he did catch me up after a mile or so).

At almost exactly five miles in the first climb started, which because of the soft ground felt much more than the 77m elevation gain my Garmin says it was.  Just as it seemed to be levelling out, you were then made to go up a grass bank that was at least a one minute crawl to the top.

A very fast, and very slippy, downhill followed, and then another steep ascent and descent, shorter but also sharper than the last. After an undulating mile, the third climb came, which felt even steeper than the last two.  There was then a nice flattish section, before the aptly named “sting in the tail”.  Rather than head down and back towards Pewsey, the course went up another unfeasibly steep hill, around the White Horse (apparently, I was blowing too much to notice), then back down again at break-neck speed.

After the sting, the route home was fairly sedentary, except for one final bit of sadism.  Rather than let the runners cross the little bridge coming into the town, the route instead goes through the river below it, which was at about knee height.  Although tough on the legs, I actually found it quite refreshing, and saved me cleaning my shoes (Salomon Speedcross, in the unlikely event that you are interested).

It was a short squelch home after the river crossing, back to the village school which also hosted the start line and race HQ.

The race well supported given the grey, windy day, and the course was perfectly signposted and marshalled.    In fact, everything about the race organisation was impeccable, from registration, to bag drop, to start and finish.  In many ways it was far slicker than most of the big races I have done, but retained a friendly, homemade feel, which is some achievement given that there were over 400 runners on the course.

Adding to the homely atmosphere were the army of old ladies serving cakes and tea at the end.  Most things taste good after 12 miles, but I’m sure that the cakes were the best I have had for a while (I had three, just to be certain).

If you want to know more about the race, you can see the route map, elevation profile and my timings on my Garmin Connect page, or go to the Pewsey Vale Running Club website for pictures and the all-important results.

As you will be able to tell from the above, I would strongly recommend the race. I’ll be back*, that’s for sure.

*Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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