Herbert’s Hole 10K Challenge – Chesham – Sun 20 Nov 2016

We came, we saw, we conquered the mud bath that is Herbert’s Hole, writes Louise Prince. A cold wet morning saw eight hardy (read: foolhardy) souls standing shivering on the start line at Lowndes Park, ready for one of the toughest challenges of the year, Herbert’s Hole cross country 10K. The weather was grim; some may say it was even tougher for the merry band of supporters who’d come along to cheer the brave runners.

The starting horn went, and the runners threw themselves down the first hill with gusto, only to find they had to loop back round on the grass and do it again… The grass successfully negotiated and it was through the woods and onto the first major muddy descent. Runners ran, runners cautiously walked, and runners slipped down the slope. Some even adopted a combination of all three methods of descent – apparently, it’s not a Herbert’s Hole unless you get at least a little bit muddy.

And then there was the less interesting stuff, the road running. Nice enough countryside, but where was the mud?! Off road again, and the marshals cheerfully called out to mind the water. What they meant was “you know that nice little country path that’s an absolute delight to walk along in summer? Well, now it’s a raging torrent, hope you’ve brought your water wings!”

Thick mud either side of the “path”, knee deep water in the middle. Which to choose? Most of us just waded through and hoped not to drown… Still, mud is supposed to be good for the skin.

Those who had done the course before knew that the treacherous slope we’d come down at the start was the same treacherous slope we’d be going back up at the end, but to some it came as a pleasant surprise… At least the queue for the gates gave time to catch your breath before attempting to hurtle up the quagmire…

And despite it all, we all managed it (mostly) with smiles on our faces. There’s something very liberating about a race where you’ve no hope of getting a PB, and I think it’s safe to say we all had a good time in the mud. And we actually put in a pretty decent effort, with Sarah (pictured above) coming in as second woman, and the women narrowly missing out on the team prize.¬†Full results¬†here.

ESM results summary
Men: 20 Andy Price 45:36
Women: 2 Sarah Gerrie 47:14; 18 Lynn Wilson (F55) 55:48; 21 Louise Prince (F45) 56:17; 34 Catherine Gunnewicht (F45) 59:38; 35 Kate Fraser 59:48; 54 Beverley Packwood (F45) 65:15; 68 Annette Galloway (F45) 67:31