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Reddam House 10K – John King tells of a race around stunning grounds plus the Hill of doom!

On Sunday morning it was time to hop on the bike and cycle to Redham House (formerly Bearwood College) just outside of Wokingham for an early morning 10K in the sun.  At 7am it was already pretty warm, so a stretch out on the cycle was in order which saved getting the car out and getting all hot and bothered. Much prefer the fresh air and the exercise.  The college was easy to find, no satnav on the pushbike, so headed for Sainsburys and left at the roundabout beyond that after the left turn off the Reading Road.  Easy.
After ditching the bike and picking up the race number, it was time to explore the grounds.  The House is large and imposing, with a lovely flowing set of steps leading down to the finish area for all races.  I say this because the 10K and 5K races finish in the same place, along with the Family Fun Run.  This is good for giving out medals and recording finish times as, there is no chip timing! What the..!

reddam-house-10k-5k-2k.jpg

It was such a hot day, so most runners were sheltering under some trees, again near the finish area, keeping cool until we were called to the start line at around 9:20 which involved walking down a grassy bank ready to run straight back up it again.  Aren’t us runners curious folk? The start line itself was very long, but most runners seemed to congregate at one end.  I decided to ‘toe the line’ at the least crowded end, meaning that I was away immediately at the word ‘go!’ and we were off!
I found the start pretty slow, purely due to the incline, not thinking that we were to run it again on lap 2, but more on that later…
The route takes you around the grounds of the old Victorian Manor House, tracks and trails through ‘undulating’ woods, then around a sports field and even a nicely manicured running track.  A few more twists and turns, a water station here, sponge station there, a short section where you get to see the ‘Speedy Gonzalez’s’ coming towards you, then nearing the end of lap two, it is a quick stretch up that ‘soul sucking’ hill and you are delightedly reminded that you have all of that to go again!
What made this more of a challenge was that I happened to fall in with a group of runners just ahead of me, following them blindly (as you do) hanging onto their shirt tails as it were. Then it slowly dawned on me that they were peeling off to finish their 5K run, leaving me all alone!  So from running in a little pocket of runners to all on my lonesome, it began to become a battle of willpower.  They carried on up to the finish, I turned right…  Suddenly alone and still climbing, probably by a fraction, I just had to push on.  Lap 2 turned out to be a very lonely experience.
Reddam House 5k loop
Desperate to not take a wrong turning, having nobody to rely on made for an interesting lap, I had to rely both on marshal directions and my memory (good lord no!) of the first lap but actually managed to make it in one piece.  I think the heat was getting to me, recognising the most obscure waypoint along the way and congratulating myself for it.  The second sponge station was a hugely welcome site, sponge squeezed over head and neck and on to the next twist and turn.  Nearing the end I happened to see a small group behind me on one of the turns, which sparked what little life I had left in me but resigned to being caught anyway.  Slowly nearing the finish and the final turn, hoping it was a straight shot to the finish, we had the ‘Grassy Slope of Hades’ to scale one more time! Nooo!..  This time we had to climb all the way to the finish line.  An impossible task!  But we all made it in the end.  A very cruel way to end any race, but what a challenge it was.  Better still, I kept my position in the race to finish in 10th place!  I think 2nd in my age category so was it all worth it?  Yes…
After the obligatory prize giving back outside the house, I had collected my bike and was getting ready to set off.  The Fun Run had started, with the usual children at the front, toeing the line and setting off at a sprint, I happened to glance over at the lead runners coming up the now infamous ‘hill of doom’ I overheard one of the marshals say ‘keep going, just one more lap to go!’ Suffice it to say, one of the lads refused to go on anymore.  Smirking, I began my weary way home…
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