Today I thought I’d try something different, a 3.5 mile, multi lap, timed event with a maximum time limit of six hours. The newly created On the Whistle Ltd (OTW) team had come up with this concept and seeing as the Meon Valley Trail (MVT) is quite close to me I was keen to support it by entering. With today being OTW’s first event they must have been really pleased to have sold out a few weeks ago with 150 runners.
The MVT was origionally the railway line from Fareham to East Meon and today was the anniversary of the last passenger train to operate on the line some 55 years ago !!
The Wickham Whistler is in reference to the guards whistle so lets get all the puns out of the way now. Yes everyone had been “training” and it was “full steam ahead” for the 9.30am start until the end of the tracks at 3.30pm. Race HQ was aptly named the Aid “Station” and it was near this tent that you collected your coloured wrist band after each lap. When you no longer wanted to head out for another lap there was a bell to ring to “signal” you had finished. I was aiming for a steady 21 miles or 3 1/2 hours.
Before collecting my number I’d talked with Kiernan E. from OTW who I know from being a director at the QE parkrun and it wasn’t long before I bumped into some familiar faces near the start line. Crusader runners Paul Coates, Joy Rich Smith, Sharon & Paul Gwyn as well as twitter runners Hannah & Graham and Phil Hobby from Stubbington Green runners. Phil Hoy & Teresa from Second Wind Running were there (well done Phil on your London marathon 2.59.47). I also spotted fellow blogger shewhodaresruns Tina. However, the surprise of the day was to see Steve Cousins from Film My Run who takes his gopro to numerous races and his films are really worth a look at. You can read Steve’s report and watch his film of the Whistler here. Uplifting music, creative camera angles and a real sense of why we run the trails.
So the stage was set as we stood on the “platform”, sorry, start line. The one factor that came across immediately was how friendly everyone was, local club runners, unattached runners and the quick boys all had time for words of encouragement as Kiernan gave his pre race talk. I think the nature of the six hour time slot had relaxed everyone so the concept really did work.
The laps ticked away with the sun shining and thankfully the tree cover did mean we were sheltered from the direct sun but I still came away with a bit of a glow on my face as well as a great big smile.
Now, an out and back distance of 1.75 miles could be seen as a bit boring, however, this meant frequent encouragement, banter, high five’s and either a smile or a nod to our fellow runners, something that just isn’t possible in the pressured atmosphere of a 5 or 10K. The nature of the route also meant we ran under four different railway bridges too !
There was a slight gradient on the outward leg but this naturally gave you a slightly easier return trip. My first 4 laps passed without any incident and, as well as chatting with people, I did enjoy that for once there weren’t any big hills to tackle. I love a hill but it does make a change to run a largely flat but still beautiful countryside route. Laps 5 & 6 were harder but still enjoyable. I left taking any video until the last lap, then I rung the bell and that meant the end of a great day. Hopefully the film sums up the route and the people.
Considering this was On The Whistle’s first race it went without a hitch as far as I could see, so it’s a big vote of confidence to Kiernan, Claire & Del. As our American friends say the medal was “awesome”. Race Results I came 48th out of the 143. Finally a date for my diary July 17th and OWT’s World Emoji day run with the same 6 hour format.