The Cheddar Gorge Challenge is organised by Relish Running Races as an annual trail running event in Cheddar Gorge, and this year they introduced a new Omnium Event:
- Bronze: 100m Sprint, 50m (vertical) hill climb, 1km and 6km races (Saturday)
- Silver: 100m Sprint, 50m (vertical) hill climb, 1km and 10km races (Saturday)
- Gold: 100m Sprint, 50m (vertical) hill climb, 1km and 10km races (Saturday), half marathon (Sunday)
Runners gain points for their position (1st = 1 point, 10th = 10 points etc), and the runner with the lowest points wins. The three shorter races were run individually, with each runner setting off with 30 seconds between them, and the longer races were mass start.
I took part in the Gold Omnium, and before I launch into my races, I just wanted to shout out to the Relish team for their awesome organisation over the weekend! Everything ran so smoothly, the team were lovely, the water/food stations were well stocked, and the courses were perfectly marked. If you ever get a chance to do one of their events, then I could not recommend it more!
The whole weekend was beautifully sunny, with just enough cloud cover and wind to make it not too horrendously hot for running. Perfect!
The 1km came first, and was two 500m laps mostly on the grass, around and over a dry stone wall. The “over” portion was up and down a metal mesh ramp, which was really steep to clamber over! I went out really fast, and kept it up, and finished in first place in the female gold omnium, in 5:28. A good start!
When it was time for the hill climb we were all walked down the long way to the start of the course – much further away than we’d all thought! The course was also slightly overgrown, but luckily we were zig-zagging up the hill rather than going straight up, which made it slightly less scary! There was definitely some walking going on, but I scrambled up the hill and over the stone-wall-ramp to finish in 3:05, coming in second.
Next up was the 100m which I knew would be my weakest event, as I’m not a sprinter! It was a slightly uphill course, with a corner, and I managed it in 0:21 which put me in third place.
The final event of Saturday was the 10km and whilst I was excited, I managed to get into my nice steady trail pace quite quickly. I was very conscious of not tiring myself out for the half marathon the next day, and so once I walked (crawled) up the “hell steps” in the first mile, I kept to my 10 minute mile goal pace, and made sure I walked up all of the bad hills. The course was really varied, some rocky, dusty paths, through some woods, across some wide flat fields, over stiles, and finally up a really steep field to the finish.
I finished in a respectable 1:06:13, right where I wanted to be, and came in first place – such a great start to the event weekend.
On Sunday morning, the final event was the half marathon. I was a little sore from the previous days’ events, but luckily this quite quickly eased out and I settled into the race nicely. The first 5 miles or so followed the 10km course from the previous day, before splitting off and following a much longer version of the varied course. We got so high up that we had sight of the Bristol Channel, and I stopped for a few pictures and to enjoy the scenery.
There were some long, long uphills, but these were balanced out by some nice long downhills, although some of them were on really tough terrain which were quite hard going. It was definitely the hardest trail half marathon I have done, but so rewarding! I was aiming for somewhere around 2:15:00, and finished in 2:20:28, which I was happy with. Even better, I came in first!
I enjoyed the races so much! I’d forgotten how much I like trail racing, as it’s been so long since I’ve been able to do it properly. I like the easier pace, and having random chats with people on slower uphill walking sections. I definitely need to try and do this more often.
The full results were out on Monday and I actually won the female gold omnium! I knew I had a good chance of being in the top three, but coming first is actually amazing. And in a non-Jersey event! Totally made up.