I’m not sure if you know it but it’s been a while since either of us have taken part in an organised running event, we did at least 3 events last year. But this year we are only at 2. The last one we both took part in was the London BUPA 10k back in May. We’ve both been talking about signing up to a race for sometime but have both been pretty useless about getting organised. That is until I received an email into my inbox on Oct 17th from AAT Events about their next organised run – The Night Fright 8.5km. I immediately sent this onto both Fi and my Dad and they were totally up for it too. Yippee for that! The event itself was billed as a night run through the Chantries woodlands in Surrey with fancy dress and spooks on route. So head torches and Halloween accessories were found and one week later we were at the start line race.
We started off at 6pm so it was still slightly light as we headed into the woods, but dusk soon settled in and we were running in darkness. Now I run at night a lot in London, but London running and woodland running is totally different. It was quite tricky to see where I was going and I’m actually surprised I didn’t fall over. There was lots of tripping over tree roots and sinking into mud as the light from the head torches was just not bright enough. Plus I was having to move my head in different directions depending on what I wanted to see; down to see my feet and avoid roots and mud or up and ahead to see the route. It’s surprisingly tricky doing this and it actually takes a lot of concentration. And actually you may see a tree root, but you’ve got absolutely no way of knowing how far off the ground it is.
I’ve not walked or run the Chantries before which is ridiculous as they are so close to where I grew up so it was great to explore a little bit. I’m definitely going to head back again for some walks in the daylight as I’m pretty sure there’s some stunning views. At one point we climbed a mahoosive hill – 15 minutes of climbing at 1:4 (walking, not running) – which was incredibly painful but at the top we had a lovely view of (what I think was) Shere, all lit up.
In all honesty I wasn’t entirely impressed with the organisation of the event, which is surprising as the Surrey Half back in March was organised by the same group and was perfect. But in this race there were a couple of issue. To start with the electronic timing seemed non-existent – we didn’t have chips attached to us at all so I don’t know how they were able to produce our finish times. But the worst thing, in my mind, was the lack of race marshals at important points. There seemed to be plenty of people at the start and finish, but no one in the middle of the race, we we got a little lost at one point as the arrows directing us were so hard to find in the dark. They were black arrows on neon yellow backgrounds, but when you’re in the depths of the wood with only a headlight to guide you it was incredibly hard to see them. Yes, some may have had a glowstick stuck to them, but actually these weren’t entirely useful.
I think aside from these little glitches it was a fun race to do. I have my time for this 8.5k as 80 minutes. At first I thought this was incredibly slow, but once I reminded myself of the 15 minutes hill climb, the sand paths and the lack of marshals in the darkness I realise how well I did. If I had known it was going to be as tough as it was I probably wouldn’t have signed up, which would have been a shame as it was a great night and tremendous fun. And I certainly earned my Chinese food at the end of it!