Last weekend was the Tempest 10 / Spitfire 20 – a race organised by Events to Live. This is the first ‘serious’ race I’ve attended by them, the last one was the Bacchus Half (wine, fancy dress, hog roast…). Race HQ was Dunsfold Aerodrome, more famously known as the Top Gear track. There were two distances on offer – 10 mile and 20 miles – I opted for 10.
If you haven’t got time for the longer review, here is my summary of the event.
A very well organised event by ETL. They suffer slightly from the venue not allowing them a tannoy or music but the parking, registration and start are so close together it isn’t too much of an issue. Plenty of portable toilets at the start, a speedy registration process and a very pleasant atmosphere.
The course has a few hills, some short and sharp and others a gradual incline. The initial 2 – 3 miles are a bit dull, unless you like concrete and old planes! The following 3 miles out of the aerodrome were not massively interesting, it is mostly a main (ish) road and there were plenty of idiotic drivers about. After this point, you turn off and hit gorgeous country lanes. This was the best part.
Plenty of water stops, lots of happy marshals and lots of contact via email pre and post race. A great race organiser and a hefty looking medal to add to the collection.
It was a bit chilly when we arrived, but the mist cleared and the sun was out when we started. The beginning of the course takes you a few miles around the track. This is the least interesting part! It was quite exposed to the wind and it is just a lot of concrete and old planes! The first water stop is just before you exit the aerodrome.
There is a short hill out of the aerodrome, then you’re on to a fairly main road. A bit more exciting than then previous view but there is traffic on the road at this point and the idiotic drivers appeared to be out in force.
This isn’t a reflection of the event organisers, just the bad drivers in Surrey that morning!
The atmosphere of the runners and marshals is very supportive and everyone was warning and watching out for each other when cars were approaching.
This is where it got pretty! Mile 5 is around the Loxhill area in the map above. There is a water station here and then a bit of a downhill. The trail is country roads, which is much nicer than the main road. This was the best part of the course.
The downside for me was mile 6.5. We got to the top of a hill and I wanted to vomit. No idea why, possibly because it was so unexpectedly warm, but it made the final 3.5 miles a bit more challenging!
The end of the race came about quickly. By mile 9 you can start to see, through the tree line, the aerodrome so you know that the end is close! This is a pretty flat stretch and before you know it you are back into the aerodrome. Sight of the finish quickly appears and there was a lovely atmosphere to the last stretch.
Unlike many other races, this wasn’t about sprinting to the end or speeding past other runners. It was about supporting one another and keeping pace.
I finished after the 10 miles but others that had entered the 20 miles continued for a second lap.
Once you’ve crossed the line, your timing chip is removed, a great looking medal hung around your neck and you are directed to the table for water and a chocolate bar.
I was waiting for Dan to finish the 20 mile, so I decided to get changed, grab a cup of tea and then cheer the runners in.
I’ve never been at a race before where it is more about the entire race than the last 200 metres. I was really impressed with the supportiveness of the runners and how well everyone was keeping pace, right up to crossing the finish line. This is clearly a fantastic race for marathon (or half marathon) practice.