Tag Archives: #durrell-challenge #running

Durrell Challenge 2018

Yesterday saw me take part in my third race in four weekends – four out of four if you count last week’s parkrun – the third running of the Durrell Challenge, a 13k road race from town up to Jersey Zoo (or whatever they’re calling it these days).

I’ve always been keen to support this event because as a family we’ve always enjoyed the zoo having once been members and this seemed like a fun way to combine that with our sport / hobby of choice.

The course was the same it has always been – an initial mile or so from the park start through town towards a long uphill drag for 5k or so, followed by rolling terrain for pretty much the rest of the run. There are also two particularly steep hills to interrupt the rhythm and just generally make participants suffer.

And this year I certainly suffered. I set out with a fast pace on the flat and also on the steady hills, but the bigger hills totally wore me down. I simply haven’t done enough hill work this year, having focused (rightly) on my half marathon endurance up until the Fleet Half of a couple of weeks ago. I just blew myself out on the steeper hills and needed to walk up a couple of them. I also misjudged my pace on the last proper hill essentially kicking on too far before the finish – the opposite of the mistake I made in Fleet I guess – so I finished a bit slower than last year’s corresponding run but a lot more stressed with a heart rate of a silly 196bpm near the finish.

In the final results, I was 1:10 outside of my time of last year and on one level I was disappointed that I didn’t improve but I also looked at how my race compared with last year and the trace shows that I was quicker more or less everywhere apart from the hills where I walked so there’s lots of positives for the future.

One thing I do still enjoy about the event though is having the opportunity to race against Superman (or Henry Cavill as the official results insist on calling him). Like me, he’s taken part in all three Challenges so far. I’m 2-1 up now 😉

The odd thing now coming out of the Durrell is that for possibly the first time since 2015 I’ve got no races firmly planned whatsoever. I have some ideas but there’s not actually anything in the running diary. I think I’m just going to enjoy the unfocused running for a little while at least.

Outrunning Superman

The Durrell Challenge 2017

Sunday’s race was one I think I’ll always look back fondly on. It was hot, tiring and very very hilly and of course I absolutely loved it. Eventually.

The build up to the race really couldn’t have gone better as I’ve said previously. Injury free and probably in the form of my running life to date – Jean had been running brilliantly too so we’d really both been looking forward to what was actually Jean’s first race of the year.

The race morning build up went to plan. I had my strategy in mind of keeping my pace under control so as to aim not to blow up like last year. There was clearly a big field, as was shown by the eventual results showing 502 finishers, but it didn’t seem particularly crowded at all. I’d seen a couple of familiar faces before the start and then got chatting to someone who was visiting from California having just come for the race. The race began a little late but we got going and I found it to be slightly heavy going. I’m not sure it was crowded or whether there were just a lot of people who had lined up too far forward for their likely pace. There was certainly someone in the first kilometre or so getting in everyone’s way by walking and causing chaos, but otherwise getting to the foot of Vallee de Vaux was uneventful.

This graph was quite revealing when I’d seen it after the race. I felt like the first long climb of Vallee de Vaux was steady and fairly unremarkable. My heart rate was under control and my pace was fine. The pink trace in the graph is my time before or ahead of last year’s run, which is the black trace. That told me I’d lost a little over 30 secs in the opening of the race but had managed my energy loads better.

About halfway up Vallee de Vaux I’d caught the group around Henry Cavill. Last year he beat me by a couple of minutes but in 2017 I overtook him quite early. To be fair I think he was having fun with his family rather than actually racing. Fair enough really.

My strength this time was primarily on the big hills. There were 4 steeper hills and I probably gained most of my time on these – they are the sharp upticks on the graph where I walked last year.

But the hills wasn’t the whole story. I ran the final 5k in 27 minutes which was four minutes faster than the 2016 running. I’d kept plenty of energy back – my 13th kilometre was run in under 5 minutes which I’d find fairly quick for Parkrun, let alone the 13th kilometre of a hilly race.

In the end I finished in 1:13:17 – about five and a half minutes up on last year. Either the second or third most improved on last year’s times out of all those who’ve done both runs. A brilliant effort really and I loved it.

There was a really good atmosphere up at the Zoo at the finish and I enjoyed chatting with a few people I knew who were running or were waiting for someone else. I was tired and had worked hard but was very happy. I really hope they keep running this in 2018.

The next challenge now is Liverpool in a little under a couple of weeks and once again I can’t wait!