People often say I race too much – this is true. Never more so than this year. The list of leagues and championships has been quite long, so it is no surprise that Graham and I thought we might as well try to fit at least 8 BOFRA races in too.
We had done a few BOFRA or show races before and treated them like normal races – turn up, run, eat cake, go home. I had definitely not fully understood or appreciated the joy of BOFRAs. The first race we did was Coniston Gullies. It seemed quite ridiculous to drive all that way, just to run a 1 mile race – it didn’t take long to realise how wrong this point of view was.
Coniston Gullies was a treat and half – I remember having the route pointed out when there was a English Champs race there a couple of years ago and just thinking – No way. Never! Yet there we were. I was pretty knackered (this was a common theme for almost all the races) from a trip down to London the previous day, but it was well worth it. The race was 1 mile, with 900ft of climb – it was full on, as you would expect – a proper lungs bursting, tasting blood as you climb ascent, followed by a break neck, don’t think or you’ll crap your pants descent. It was the perfect balance between painfully horrific and exhilaratingly brilliant. The real treat came afterwards though. It was an afternoon of proper good wholesome fun, community spirit, warm caring lovely people and kids playing out the way they should. Part of why it has taken so long to write this up is because every time I have written something, it has come across like an Enid Blyton book. We didn’t hang around long enough for the BBQ by Coniston water and a swim, but sitting out in the sun, the tea and cakes and a chat was enough to get a sense of what BOFRAs are about and to realised it is always worth the drive, even if the race is only a mile long.
As the season went on the races were so much fun and so varied. Farleton Knott was a real highlight. That was such a fun race! A long steady climb, a steep scree descent, a steep scree climb and back down the same long runnable downhill. Made even more fun because it was only a couple of days after Ambleside Sports and we had squeeze in a Borrowdale recce between the two. It was surprising to see just how much we could subject ourselves to and still feel ok (we are currently recovering from illness and injury). Helm Hill was a low point – Hopefully I’ll go back to purge those demons next year – it was a grim day of constant rain. The course looked good (it was good, but I was not). At the start someone fell right in front of me, I then felt the need to sprint to make up lost time and knackered myself out. I kept slipping and aggrevating my dodgy hip – I finished feeling a bit miserable, but I was still keen to go and do more and it has been about much more than just racing.
The real fun has come from playing in the river like a big kid, chatting with folks, discussing recces and getting tips for upcoming races, comparing cuts and scratches afterwards, Annie’s teas, hot chocolates, cakes and nut bombs. The organising team is brilliant! There is such comraderie between the runners and for me getting to know ladies who BOFRA has been great – BOFRA ladies are so tough and competitive, while being so friendly and supportive – I have loved that side of things. I can’t wait to do it all again next year!