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Bramley 20 – Paul Biggs shares more on the classic spring marathon training race

Zombie Apocalypse ?

Dawn broke on Sunday the 11th of February with cold clear skies over Hampshire. The normally sleepy village of Bramley awoke and drew its curtains to the sight of shuffling, stretching, yawning blank eyed wraiths making their way to the centre of town. ….no not the zombie apocalypse always feared by good townsfolk, but the annual running of the Bramley 20/10 Road race……

So what is it? It’s an undulating 10 mile loop around the village sticking mainly to country lanes and back roads, staffed by friendly marshals and supported by locals, loved ones and team mates. Plenty of drink stations and first-aid around the course. Along with tea and cakes and warm dry changing rooms at the start finish line ….in fact a race so good some people do it twice…..

10:30 saw over 1300 runners gathered at the start a number of these proudly wearing Sandhurst colours. As you’d expect from runners, spending these last few moments denouncing their own abilities, playing down the seriousness of their intentions and bandying about old chestnuts such as ‘I’m treating it as another training run’ … ‘I’ll be happy just to get around’ and ‘do you think I’ve got time to go to the toilet’.

Hoot ! – We were off … the hungry accelerating up to race pace, the disciplined checking their watches and getting on-plan and the erratic sprinting and braking as the mood took them. Three  miles in and all had warmed up. Four miles with the sun still shining everyone had found their stride. Five and a half miles in and we gulped at the sight of the big hill. Six miles saw us battling the wind along the ridge. Seven miles done and we were sheltered again. Eight miles gave us icy blasts out of bright blue skies and then at nine miles we could hear the tannoy from Race HQ calling to us as we climbed again.  Ten miles complete and the sprinters peeled off to finish line glory while the twenty mile striders dug in for lap two. ….

Reflecting with a finish line coffee in my hand….Some really good performances, medals and goody bags at a really well organised and friendly local event. Thanks go to Reading Road Runners for organising it and to my fellow Joggers for their good company.

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