BOX HILL KNACKER CRACKER 2008
Tuesday 1st January, 11am
BRITAIN'S TOUGHEST 10K RACE!
Whilst many people were unfortunate to have the Christmas flu bug or a hangover or both,I was focused only on preparation for this race!
I drove 245 miles home to Liverpool for Christmas then returned South East via Prestatyn and Rhyl on Boxing Day and Colwyn Bay and Llandudno in North West Wales on the 28th.
At 9pm on the 30th Dec I did a 10K 50 minute prep run on the coast in North Wales to burn off some of the Christmas crap before then driving home to Croydon via St Albans and then through Central London
on the 31st! A 600+ mile round trip!
I watched the fireworks on Tv at Midnight at the London Eye, the contrast of being in a 400,000 crowd as I was last year or alone this year, it was only another night - tomorrow was no ordinary day!
The weather was drizzly on the morning of the run but everyone was in great spirits and anticipating the lunacy that lay ahead! Runners were started under 5 minute handicaps given their estimated finish time, slowest 1st, fastest last. This is not a PB course, that is a fact. You are asked to add 40% to your normal 10K time! If you finish this race in good shape you have done well.
I'm just left of middle, in front of the guy behind me in a Red hat!
The 1st ascent was up a bumpy, stony track with a gradual gradient but it seemed to go on for ages! Footing was uneven and nobody was in any rush here, just nice and steady, getting the body warmed up and the heart pumping a bit harder! At the top of this climb we entered a clearing which progressed into sparse woodland for a nice level section (although it was uneven with tree roots!) MILE 1 marker soon appeared after negotiating lots of mud, twigs, fallen branches etc.
Descent 1 was a twisty, turny affair, easy to get taken along by your momentum or lose control on the steep muddy steps if running too fast but the section was compensated by some clearer, straighter bits. One view to the left was of the largest vineyard in Britain. The descent ended at the 2 MILE marker in the small car park at the foot of the hill, there was a drinks table but I was carrying my own water so continued on the course.
We turned back on ourselves here and turned left through a swing gate before the 2nd ascent. This section felt like a 2 in 1 gradient, very few people ran the whole hill I'm sure perhaps apart from the elite athletes! It was bloody hard work, simple as that! I managed to take 2 photos here and they are the only ones I took on the day of the race, I did take a few others on the familiarization run on Dec. 16th. Eventually the summit became visible but there was still a bit more to do before the 2nd descent! A stile and fallen tree were to be negotiated in the mud before the 3 MILE marker, my watch registered 30 mins at tree / halfway point
The course soon crosses a country road before the descent into the Chute, thus called because it resembles a slippery water slide. Curved edges and a downhill slope with rounded stone, mud, roots, branches, twigs and leaves made for interesting footing at speed!
I actually ended up on my arse in the mud at one point!
A snaking descent to the bottom returned us up the 3rd ascent of Box Hill... a very steep, narrow, muddy affair. Not too many people ran this, I tried but it was hard, especially after 4 miles of Britain's Toughest 10K! At the top there came the now legendary 275 Steps, (I didn't count them on the day!)
I was aware they were coming up after the pre Knacker Cracker on the 16th December.
We turned left for the 3rd descent of Box Hill. Steps varied from a few inches high to 12" or so and yes, they were muddy and busy
with people running down them and striding up them!
At the bottom is a nice section where competitors cross a footbridge over the River Mole then slalom between some trees before approaching the river again. Now it was time for the stepping stones over the river... Ready! Steady! Go! I gaged my 1st two steps before bounding off, Boing! Boing! Boing! across the stones. The river was a matter of inches below me and was flowing fast... this is one part of the course I wasn't gonna mess up!
I screamed a jubilant YEAH BABY! as I reached the other side without falling in!
What goes down must go back up... a reversed statement and true of the lunacy that is Knacker Cracker! Each one of those steps was a hike in itself and with fancy dress runners running with glee downhill and stepping stone survivors heading uphill it got a bit congested and muddy! Once at the top you were left gasping for oxygen, my lungs nearly burst and my heart nearly exploded! It was a fantastic feeling to have conquered the mighty steps and I smiled with pride!
All that was left to accomplish now was the final section to the finish! En-route we passed a grave of an eccentric gentleman who was buried head first. That's all I know, I wasn't paying attention to the history lessons given at various points at the pre run on the 16th.
The 4th downhill can be described as a welcome horizon - a wide open, smooth, fast downhill and it was simply the best finale to any race I have encountered for a long, long time! I gave it my all as I approached the finish line and completed an amazing, outstanding, and simply stunning event!
200 or so people competing in this run is great testimony to Dr Rob McCaffrey and his team. The organization is fantastic, the marshals and spectators were hugely encouraging. A great T-shirt with a list of all the runners on the reverse plus a medal and commemorative mug and as much food / drink as you could manage was the prelude to the post race awards ceremony which was worth turning up for in it's own right - Dr Rob ad libbing his way through the awards plus a raffle / lucky bag with numerous prizes and the generosity was heart warming, everyone was a winner!
1st Female and Male Winners!
Special mention for the guy who set a new course record - 44mins!
Shortest Course Record Holder
and Female Fancy Dress Winner!
Male Fancy Dress Winner - BORAT!
Box Hill Knacker Cracker 10K
Here's the stats!
Time DataTotal % of Total
Total Time 1:05:57 100.0
Moving Time 1:05:40 99.6
Ascent 0:34:45 52.7
Descent 0:21:15 32.2
Flat 0:09:40 14.7
Stopped 0:00:17 0.4
# of MotionBased Stops = 0
Easily one of my top 5 races, this was a great way to start the New Year! Looking forward to next year already!
Official summary by race organizer Dr Bob:
A record-breaking field of 175 runners completed the Knacker Cracker 2008, in overcast and cool conditions, with sticky, slippy and treacherous conditions underfoot. An increasing proportion of runners come in fancy dress, and notable among the particpants this year were a bee, a monkey, at least one Bedu tribesman, two cavegirls and a caveman, several runners in dresses and assorted festive headgear, a female devil, fairies, french maids (ooh la la!), bunnies, hula-girls, Hawaiians, a pirate, the Pink Panther, a wizard, a team of elves, a Morris Man, a smurf (?) and, last but not least, a gentleman running as Borat, in a fluorescent mankini.
Despite the difficult conditions underfoot, both the male and female course records were broken. First man home, in an amazing 44:57, was David Rollins. In fact, the first five men home would have beaten the previous course record. First lady home was Sarah Rollins (making it a husband and wife one-two), also in a new course record of 50:06, bettering the previous record by nearly nine minutes.
The last person home ducked in under 100 minutes, coming in at 96:30, four minutes faster than the previous year's last placed runner.
At the post race gathering, raffle prizes were dished out and the race prizes eventually awarded to the correct recipients. By common assent, the prize for the best fancy dress went to Dave Dixon of Watford Joggers for running - on the edge of decency - as Borat.
The race raised several hundred pounds for charity, once again primarily Rianna's Fund.