Thanks to James Sorbie & Hannah Watkins (who completed all the races in 2014) for these profiles of each of the League Races:
The Hangover 5 traditionally takes part on the 1st of January (hence the name) but in 2014 it was postponed until March due to the weather. It’s an off-road race that was a little bit muddy in places in March, but probably a firmer surface in January. The first half is gradually up-hill with a short steep climb to the half way point. That’s the horrible bit done though and there’s no shame in walking some or all of that last steep hill. After that it’s virtually all flat and down-hill. Unlike some of the courses, the down-hill part is gradual enough to actually be able to run down quickly and enjoy the finish!
There’s an ongoing tradition within the club to refer to all of the races as ‘flat’ to try to ensure a big turnout. With the Worthing Lido race this isn’t a fib though. The flattest race of the season along the Worthing promenade (and a very short portion of paths/grass). It could be cold and wet at the start of the year, but one of the best races for actually running with some pace during the season.
The Valentine’s race allows you to fall in love with mud! A reasonably undulating course (definitely not hilly) all off road with some really slippery mud patches. Great fun though and you’ll probably find yourself amongst people having a whale of a time sliding about. Also, this isn’t one of the longer races in the calendar. Just bring some bin bags for the car!
The Foxes 5 in Shoreham is a lovely run alongside the Adur river estuary with beautiful scenery on gravel paths. This one is another one where the ’flat’ description isn’t a fib. In March 2014 the weather had really started to warm up which makes you sweat a bit more but also made the scenery all the more enjoyable. The race starts a little way from the leisure centre which is always a good excuse for a BHR style warm up as you make your way to the start. Look out for butterflies and paddle boarders on a nice spring day.
The Lewes 10k is always a popular one on Easter Monday. It has counted towards the Club Championship in the past and has attracted a large turnout accordingly. The course isn’t the easiest 10k course but it offers a bit of variation you don’t usually get. A bit of mixed terrain (although mostly off road) and a slightly more undulating course than the last two, but with the luxury of finishing on the familiar Lewes running track in front of your cheering team mates.
Portslade Hedgehoppers is a classic “up a hill and back the way you came” route which becomes a bit of a theme in the WSFRL. As you can guess, the first half of the race is up the hill (the South Downs), a small loop at the top then back down the hill. Be careful on the way up, there are plenty of places where there’s no space to overtake and you end up in a bit of a procession. On the way back down you can open up some real pace and feel the wind in your hair, although be careful on the uneven chalky surfaces. The finish is usually reasonably well populated with your team mates cheering you on, but it is a bit cramped which prevents the full BHR welcome party congregating at the end!
The Arunners Beach Run is a pretty unique race as portions of it (as the name suggests) are on the compacted sand of Littlehampton beach. Taking part in this a lot of runners haven’t ever experienced that sensation but it’s nothing to worry about, it’s a really nice surface to run on. There are puddles of sea water along the way, shingle banks to run up and down, portions of road and grass. The ratio of these different terrains varies each year depending on when the event is held due to the sea level! In 2014 a much larger portion of the race was on paths/road which made the race a bit easier but it also detracted a little bit from the enjoyment of running along a beach on a Summer’s evening. This race is always very popular with Burgess Hill Runners and for the last couple of years we’ve scored very well compared to other clubs. There are also fish ’n’ chip shops around the area which make for a great post-race social, although be warned that they don’t stay open very late and get a little overwhelmed by the huge increase in custom from all the runners!
Trundle Hill has lots of unfair nicknames. Someone said “Trundle Kill” to me earlier today and when I asked Hannah for help writing this, she said “one word: horrible”. However, my advice: ignore the reputation as it is one of the best races on the circuit. It’s yet another classic “up a hill down a hill” (although you seem to run up three hills and down two!) but with some of the loveliest scenery of the league season. There’s actually only one really difficult hill in this and it doesn’t go on for long (walking up is perfectly acceptable!) but it is followed up by a more gradual one which seems worse after what you’ve just run! Running down is great fun though and you’ll soon find your legs going like the clappers!
Hove Park will be familiar to anyone that has sampled the local Parkrun phenomenon and sure enough it’s 5k once more in the league circuit. It’s not the exact same 5k course though. I’d say it’s a tiny bit harder as you start in the opposite corner to the parkrun and therefore finish on a bit of an incline. It’s still a super-fast course for the WSFRL though and if you find you blast your 5k PB here you wouldn’t be the first to find yourself scratching your head as to how to did it on a more difficult version of the usual Hove Park course! One of the few league races where you get to brush the cobwebs off the road shoes!
Roundhill Romp is one of the more challenging races in the calendar. Over the last few years it has varied in distance between 5 and 6 miles, in 2015 it was at the higher end of this range. I won't lie about this being flat as the name is a bit of a giveaway! Expect an off-road trail race (although dry most years) with a long steep climb about a third of the way in. After a bit of a rest on the flat it then heads back down but on a very twisting path which doesn't allow for much overtaking or reckless running. Just before the end is a long grassy down hill towards the finish. Be careful your legs don't go so fast the rest of you can't keep up!
Seven Stiles is so called because once upon a time there were seven stiles to climb on this reasonably flat 4 mile course. In the last couple of years there have only been two plus a few other bottle necks at gates etc. Usually taking place between Roundhill Romp and Highdown Hike this one comes as a bit of a reprieve. Be prepared for a gentle incline towards the finish and often through a boggy field, but a nice one to really open up a bit of speed!
The course has apparently changed for 2015 but in 2014 I found this to be the second 'hardest' of the league races. The shorter distance (just over 4 miles) lead you into running a bit quicker than perhaps you should as you start off running up a decent sized hill. With two laps of the same hill and an up-hill to finish, it's one of the few league races in 2014 that finished at a higher altitude to the start. One to conquer but rewarding!
One of the more scenic races through the trails of Tilgate Forest, this out and back 5 miler is another nice one to break up the hillier league races around this time of year. It's not dead flat though, there are a few inclines that you can't just take for granted, but there's nothing that will hurt like Trundle, Highdown or Roundhill!
A new race added for 2014 and didn't see a huge turnout in its infant year. This one really is quite tough. Not much in the way of steep hills, but it gradually goes uphill almost relentlessly for the first 7 or so km (out of the 9.5km total). Just before you get to run down hill I believe there were even a few steps to climb! Once that's done it's pretty much all down hill, but just like at Roundhill, it's not that easy to run down. The down hill bit is obviously quite steep and although it was largely on grass there were quite a lot of holes in the ground last year. Wanting to keep your ankles in tact might just force you into putting the brakes on a little bit.
.... More soon!