There are certain runs you can take part in that are called lung bleeders...
This gory description is by no means derogatory to the event; in fact, it is a compliment. The term is used to describe a run that tests the competitors fitness levels to the limits. The Perch 6.2 [mile] XI is run that i personally would describe as a 'lung bleeder'. This scenic multi terrain run undulates in and around the famous Epsom [horse] race course in Surrey. (And no, the run is not measured in furlongs, the runners don't have to jump hedges or, walk round the winners enclosure at the end of the race. So many jokes, so little time, etc).
I over-heard one competitor describe this great race as more like a hilly race than an undulating race. It's a bit to close to call, if i say-so myself.
800 competitors lined up on the start line, the chip timed race is started and we all surged down hill for the first 200 metres on a tarmac road with a dividing line of ice down the middle. The course then climbs up hill and around the, what i would call the rim of the basin like Epsom horse race course. We then crossed back over the top part of the tarmac road, just to see the tail enders crossing in front of us and then we made another decent into a wooded abyss. At this point the road is a private tarmac road which then tails off into a woodland trail, or path. This is when the dark bubbling clouds above us could no longer hold their contents any longer and we then found ourselves running with large flakes of snow evaporating with an icy touch on our overheating body's. This made the race that much more hardcore.
You have the feeling of running with only a few competitors at this point because of all the fast twists and terns that make any runner more than 20 metres ahead disappear behind trees and shrubs that line the trail. You round a corner to see a race marshal pointing out a change of direction with a quick word of encouragement, or round the next corner, a hiker or walker suddenly becomes a unassuming spectator, standing stock still like a rabbit in the headlights as the freight train of 600+ numbered runners race past through their forest.
Two miles to go and your legs are feeling like concrete as your lungs drive them out of the wood, screaming at your brain to stop all this madness because 'they canny give it any more captain!.' I'm passed all of a sudden by three runners as we get out of the trees and back on to the Epsom Downs. There are now two more hills to go and i manage to close these guys back down. Can i pass?. One more hill and the finish line is in sight!. A word of warning is called to the runner in front of me from a family member or friend to race for the line. I cant live with him as he makes one final kick, i do the same as i hear the menacing foot fall of a runner close behind me. The sensors on the finish mat bleep as we cross the line holding our positions. Man! you could have thrown a blanket over us it was so close.
I enjoyed this race 100%. The race was well organised by The Epsom Oddballs club and it was held on a fantastic challenging course with a great name. The Perch.
Full race photos.