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Spring Larmer Tree Races 2022 – a review

The Spring Larmer Tree races were held over the weekend of 5th and 6th March 2022, signalling a return to business as usual for us here at White Star Running! With a whole host of race distances on offer, including dog-start options, we had hundreds of trail runners take to the hills of the Rushmore Estate from our base at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

If you want to get a bit of the flavour of the event, or to relive the memories of a great weekend, here is a review of the 7 Mile and 10 Mile races from one of our wonderful Cheerleaders Simon Lynch!

Spring Larmer Tree 10 Mile – ‘The gentle one’

With the pandemic hitting the running race community hard, White Star Running took the decision last year to mothball their live race operations and go with virtual races until 2022. The race season restart was at a familiar venue, the Larmer Tree estate in deepest Dorset. I’ve done a fair few races here over the last three years since I discovered the WSR community, and if I’m honest it is one of my favourite venues. I’ve previously done the marathon here a couple of times, but as my fitness is a little lacking this year I decided to double up on a couple of the shorter races, with the 10 mile on Saturday and 7 Mile on Sunday (review on this further down!).

Saturday started overcast and a bit breezy, but nothing like the last couple of Spring Larmer events where we’d had some hefty rain and properly strong winds – so much so that on the marathon we were nearly blown sideways off the side of a hill! As it had been over six months since the last race, it was fantastic to catch up with old friends before the 10 Mile start. The added fun for the day was that before the start of the 10 Mile there was a dog and runner 10 Mile start. Being a dog person I love the sight and sound of the excited dogs pre-race! Once they’d gone we were off on our own 10, a route that once we’d cross one main road (marshalled by the lovely Fred!) we were out in the Dorset countryside.

Photo by Simon Lynch

It is at this point you realise there is no better place to run, and this was made even better by the stunning site of a herd of around 30 deer galloping across the course – the site of this alone stopped us all in our tracks! Just after this we had the first of two super big hills to scale – a trademark of WSR races is that they will all include some quality hills – which is way too steep to run and it is all about getting to the top! After this we hit the little bit of road on the course before getting to the Lovestation – for those not in the know, this is the king of all aid stations, with a massive selection of food, drink and beer! We then hit, for me, the best part of the course, a long straight downhill through a field, followed by a grassy downhill trail. It’s this part of the course where you can really get your skates on. Downhill enjoyment soon ended though as we hit the second big hill of the run, before retracing our steps back through the first valley and back to the finish.

As ever, the medals were a thing of beauty, accompanied by a matching muff, as well as a new addition in a free pie, which was lovely – I had the chicken Balti and Tracey, my other half, had the gluten-free option – not often you get this when food is served, so extra kudos to the WSR team for this!

The promising sight was the number of people attending the first day races – hopefully we’re seeing the signs of a return to racing normality, and people wanting to come back to in-person events. I know for me I’ve been waiting for these races to come back for a while, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed!

Spring Larmer Tree 7 Mile – ‘The go-for-it one’

As has been my strategy at WSR events, if there are two races over the weekend then one of them I’ll take it steady and enjoy the view (more often than not one of the 12-hour Frolic races) and for the other one I’ll give it a blast over a shorter distance. With a dodgy hip I was 50/50 about running quickly this time around, but come Sunday morning I decided to give it a go. The wind had dropped, the sun was out, and it almost felt like a pleasant Spring day. Like the Saturday, there were a number of races taking place, with the marathon going off first, followed by the 20 Mile, then the dog 7 Mile, and finally us non-dog 7 Milers. As we lined up near the start, and after Andy’s pre-race briefing, there was almost a reluctance for anyone to toe the line right at the front, so it came down to myself and eventual winner Tim Fudge to shuffle to the front. At least I can now say that I have led a race, albeit for about 10 metres!

Photo by Simon Lynch

The course was similar to the 10 Mile race except for a left turn instead of right at about five miles, which meant it had the first big hill, the Lovestation and the downhill mile through the field before the turn-off. After the initial starting charge, we all settled into the race, and while I had a reasonable idea I was somewhere in the top 30-ish, I was shocked and surprised to find that I’d finished 14th, way better than I’d hoped for. Again, another wonderful medal, muff and this time a box of fudge were the race spoils, together with the good feeling of another amazing weekend of running and above all catching up with the great people in the White Star family. Only nine weeks to wait for the Ox race series now!

If this review has whet your appetite, then check out our upcoming races!

Featured image © Nina Watts Kearton

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