I feel the need – the need for speed!
The Maverick races set out to make the most of the British countryside, weaving trails across the South of England from Surrey to Dorset. Aimed at all abilities, 3 course lengths provide options and unlike many series out there, you can switch on the day of the race and even on the course if required.
Accommodating is a word fit to describe their way of doing things.
Now the race.
The Original West Sussex Race was held at Cowdray Park, a magnificent estate nestled outside of Midhurst. This was my first time to the area, and once I had left the M25, the scenery was stunning. Rolling hills and tree lined B roads a plenty. Pulling in following signs and brightly coloured beach flags, I pulled up outside a large stately home, the setting for race HQ.
After collecting my number and electing to run the long course, I slipped into a Zebra onsie (dressed up for a friend) and joined a couple hundred nervous runners under the start arch. A short and sweet brief followed, and with that we were off. Bounding down the first lane, surrounded by blossom coated trees, onto hard packed trails in felled forests.
With a marked route, signs and orange tape provided ample navigation through the downs, allowing all participants to focus on the task in hand. Running. Through a combination of ploughed fields and bridleways, the route snaked its way to the first checkpoint. Draped in further flags, it was visible from far away, boosting spirits on a deceptively hot day (that could be the fleece lined zebra suit doing the talking). 2 enthusiastic volunteers manned the table, offering water, energy drinks, jelly beans and fruit. A brief swig and mouth full of sugary satisfaction and it was up the adjacent hill.
This would be the harshest climb of the day, with all of the runners around me having to walk at some point to conserve their legs. At this point the heat was taking its toll and I lost 10 or so places. Topping out, rolling chalky bridleways, 10 feet wide lay ahead. Slow up, fast down.
These roads would narrow eventually, down twisting and loose descents, where I amongst others encountered horses and walkers. As I ran past I shouted “Don’t worry, you’re not seeing things” as people laughed or looked bemused.
The final check point lay on the edge of a village, single crewed by a lovely lady who was mightily impressed with my tail. What can I say, it’s something special.
Crossing fields and reentering the woodland, legs ran heavy with the dehydration running in a fleece costume in 15 degree heat brings. I doff my hat to all fancy dress runners running London this weekend, it isn’t easy.
Picking up the last 2km, relief hit runners around me, the heat had taken a greater toll then expected across the board and the promise of relaxing was so close. Running back up the same road we started on, surrounded my blossom, I smiled to the camera for one last time.
Crossing the line had lots of significance. Firstly I had achieved the goal of finishing, secondly I could cool down and take the suit off. But more importantly I had helped a friend in need.
The Maverick Races were something I was unaware of until I saw an advert on Facebook and subsequently won a free entry via their page. What I now know is they put on a great event, in a truly stunning location and they are a really friendly bunch of people.
I whole-heartedly recommend you take a look and even give it ago. Remember, they are about all abilities taking part and you can change your mind on the day.
Check out my race video, spot the sweaty Zebra… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA6fay8jnJ4
Maverick, you stud!