The Harvel Five

As I mentioned previously, I am a member of the Harvel Hash House Harriers (a running club with a drinking problem). Every year the club organise a 5 mile run for around 800people. This was the 17th year and my first ever race.

I wasn’t sure what to expect – even though I had sat in on a meeting or two – and to be honest got quite nervous about it. Getting ready was supposed to be the easy part of the day but even that was a panic, I couldn’t seem to figure out the best way of attaching my tracking chip without it hanging off my laces making me look like a complete amateur (even in running no one wants to look like they don’t know what they’re doing!) and to top that trying to find a safety pin when you really need one is mission impossible – I guarantee even Tom Cruise would struggle.

The weather was hot and sunny and if running wasn’t part of the day’s plan then it would be ideal. I was really impressed with the set up of the day, there was a buzz of other runners and supporters along with the 70 odd helpers. The quiet little village had completely sprung to life with neon lycra outfits dotted all over the place.
At this point I would like to apologise to my Mum because until the run began I couldn’t relax therefore making it difficult for her to do anything (nerves were getting the best of me).

The toilets have always been an important part of the day, with everyone trying to do a better creation than the other. This year each one was based on a member of the running club, which was fairly impressive, except I ended up with ‘Skidders’ loo and even the toilet roll was a part of the overall look and feel of the design – needless to say they took the decorations very seriously indeed.

Once we got going, I felt like I immediatley became enemys with my brain ‘I can do it, I can do it ….. I can’t do it’ and my legs went from dead weight to jelly in a matter of minutes. The run starts fairly smooth and flat but it’s not long until we get to a hill.
I have major hill phobia, and the second I see one, my body shuts down and reverts to walking mode. It is hard.

The main section of the run is within woodland and was quite refreshing, the shade was lovely!
I  met a few of the other runners which brought in the social side and they were all so supportive of each other it felt like a team run rather than feeling on your own which can easily happen when running distance. Being off road has difficulties of it’s own, the footing isn’t always steady with its muddy puddles and rocky trail.

At the end of the woodland area there was a steep hill, which again was hard to run up, but knowing a road surface followed and with that the finish line, it made it easier to keep going.
A water stop came just at the right time and a slow downhill run brought us all slowly but surly back to the village green.

The supporters were amazing and from the second the race begun people were there cheering and pushing you on (not literally) and marking out the route. The local community were also out in force, with children trying to high five you as you passed by before reaching a nearby pub who cheered us on by spraying all sorts of alcohol at us as if we had finished already.

The last stretch seemed to feel longer than the first three miles put together and at that point hearing my mum shouting my name definitely gave me an extra boost for the finish line. I was so happy to get to that point that even my exhaustion couldn’t stop me from grinning ear to ear.

At the finish line we were all given our medals which doubled up as a bottle opener which I thought was so clever, as well as useful because a celebratory drink was needed. This medal has now become one of my pride and joys as the first and currently only one I own.

Quite a few people left before the trophies; some for another race, others to slob out on the sofa. I’ll be honest I didn’t care about this part of the day much … no i’m not jealous!
I pushed my Mum to stay for the down downs (a club tradition which includes a circle of HHHH members and a lot of booze) and after downing some nasty tasting cider I used my final bit of energy to get to the car.

I really enjoyed the day, which isn’t something I thought i’d say when running was involved, but there I said it. Would I do it again? – YES!

Do you know any 5mile races or similar distances that you have enjoyed? I’d be really interested in trying out some others.

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