Sunday the 12th saw the 28th running of the iconic all terrain race The Dursley Dozen. The race was full over a month ago with 600 entered, and just under 500 travelling to Dursley to take part.
Over night snow on Friday night and Saturday morning left s Stichcombe covered in a banket of snow and continued flurries of snow on gave race organisers pause for thought, with memories of the 2009 cancellation coming to mind. However, the snow never became anything other than light flurries, more importantly no ice was forming, by Sunday morning there was little left to be seen. The runners received an extremely chilly welcome in Dursley, climactic of course, on the Sunday. A warm welcome from Dursley Running Club awaited then at Race HQ and as ever inclement conditions lead to race HQ becoming hubbub of activity before and after the race as old friends and novices chewed the fat, considering what was in store for them or analysing the course and performance afterwards. A number of anxious faces were to be seen before the start with concern not only about the temperatures but also the state of the course. A number of Dozen veterans had said they had not seen it so muddy before. A few Dursley novices looked rather worried, but also determined to do their best. Dursley was hopeful of some good results with a number of runners across the category ranges in good form. Dan Anderson was coming into the event in good form and hopeful of competing for victory, behind him in term of pace but still running extremely strongly of late where James Everett, and Mike Crompton. Who was going to count as the fourth man home for Dursley was open to debate with Tim Britton and Joe Browning strong candidates to be supporting the front three. For the women Robyn Jackson a new speedster for DRC looked likely to lead the women around with Keeley Smith and Margaret Johnson always strong off road, Zoe Lammerton was also one to watch as she has returned to running with vengeance after some “maternity leave”. In a change form recent years the male veterans were outnumbered by younger runners, Kevin Jackson and Dave Wood looked likely to be leading the male veterans home, the women on the other hand had a host of strong veterans competing, with a just 7 seniors. The runners were “penned” into May Lane surgery carpark and a countdown began for the off at around 10.30. The traditional charge up Broadway then gathered pace, James Everett and Dan Anderson leading the race into the woods as they began their first ascent of Stinchcombe. With two significant climbs and a rapid descent the first three miles immediately created gaps in the field, at the 3 mile mark, the front runners came off the golf course road and into the woods at around twenty three minutes, Andrew Gardiner led Chris McMillan, Weston with Dursley’s Dan Anderson in close attendance. A minute in arrears James Everett entered the woods, with Mike Crompton a further 30 seconds back. The first woman into the Woods was Annabel Grainger hitting three miles in just under 27 minutes, Wendy Nicholls almost a minute behind, Robyn Jackson entered the Woods in 4th position a minute a half behind Grainger, looking composed as she negotiated the tricking change in levels before turning onto the main track. In the competition to be Dursley’s fourth counter Tim Britton entered the woods just in front of Johnny Marks, running incognito (someone get him a DRC vest please!), both around a minute and three quarters ahead of Joe Browning, in the battle of the big men, they must be close to 20 feet long if you put them head to toe!
Kevin Jackson was on the woodland path just ahead of Jon Tudor and Simon Jones , who was a minute ahead of the trio of Richard Smith, Andrew Truswell and Dave Wood. Dave had taken to the three mile point to catch up with Rich and Andy, perhaps hinting at a more conservative start. Your correspondent’s next stop was at the Quarry, trying to keep in touch with the action at the front of the race, walking down to the field where the runners exit the woods after the ascent from Waterley Bottom, I positioned myself half way up the incline leading to the stile, around the six and half mile point. Chris Macmillan was first out of the woods hitting this point in around 46 minutes, just under 20 seconds behind were Dan Anderson and Andrew Gardiner, both working extremely hard up the incline, this did not bode well for their ability to close the gap on McMillan who looked to be in control. James Everett was now 2 minutes down on Anderson and Gardiner, with Mike Crompton just over a minute down on Everett. Annabel Grainger looked in full control as she reached this point in around fifty two minute, Wendy Nicholls was not making any impact on Grainger’s lead but she had a comfortable 1 minute cushion on Polly Ainsley of Southville RC, who had a similar lead on Robyn Jackson as the trio left the quarry, onto the terra firma of the road until they would reach the hole in the wall to descend towards the muddy depths of the Dozen.
The leaders were heading for home just over the hour and Chris McMillan reached the top pf Broadway in about 75 minutes with Andrew Gardiner around 40 seconds behind and Dan Anderson the same distance behind Gardiner, Macmillan clearly descended like a demon as he stretched out his lead to almost a minute by the time he reached Dursley, winning in 01:19:33 whist Dan Anderson closed the gap on Gardiner to 26 seconds, placing third overall and second senior male, in atimeof 01:20:56. Whilst he may be disappointed with his third place he was substantially faster than in 2106 in more testing conditions, and his time would have won last year’s race. These times were very impressive given the difficult conditions. In the race for first woman Grainger had created an unassailable lead and finished 17th overall in a time of 01:31:15. Wendy Nicholls was just over 8 minutes in arrears. Both Grainger and Nicholls looked in total control of there races throughout. Polly Ainsley finished 57 seconds back and Dursley Robyn Jackson just 40 seconds adrift of 3rd place with an impressive run.
Dursley with 54 athletes running were making a strong showing at the front, James Everrett and Mike Crompton putting big efforts in to finish 5th and 7th respectively, Tim Britton ran strongly and was 5 minutes behind Crompton with Johnny Marks a similar distance behind Britton. Robyn Jackson was the rose between the thorns and behind her a battle was taking place between Dave Wood and Kevin Jackson. Jackson is renowned for looking over his shoulder over the last miles of a race to ensure he stays in front of his Dursley competitors, today he failed to do so, and so Dave Wood was able to congratulate him on his effort (Dave Wood is very polite) before surging past him over the rise of the Slade to descend as fast as he could, hoping that he would get around the turn on to May Lane before the final sprint down Parsonage Street. It was mission accomplished for Wood who recorded his second victory over Jackson in thirty years making him extremely happy man. After Robyn Jackson, the Dursley women’s race was between Keeley Smith, Margaret Johnson, a resurgent Zoe Lammerton and the ever present Alice Lewis. Alice Lewis suffered the unusual set back of being hit by a deer, knocking her over and disorientating her. Cut and bruised Alice picked herself up and continued but this incident clearly put a dent in her performance, but also gave her the opportunity to show her grit and determination which is a key foundation t her excellent performance season by season. Keely Smith showed her off road credential, and whilst disappointed with her time, should reflect on her excellent 2nd category position; she finished almost two and a half minutes in front of Margaret Johnson, who was a further 01:18 a head of Zoe Lammerton, both runners finishing strongly. Zoe Lammerton’s return from having a baby has been committed but not quite as committed as Fran Amigoni who completed her Dozen with a top 20 category finish after having her little girl Mia just under four months ago! Respect is due to all the Dozen virgins, who chose a hard year to initiate themselves into the joys of a hilly mudder, many were nervous before the start but showing more grit and determination rose to the challenge. Julie “jaffa’ Fenn commented after the finish “I don’t do mud” she is clearly incorrect as she did plenty of it in the 2017 Dozen. The Dozen welcomes back many old friends, Annabel Grainger and Wendy Nicholls are two examples, travelling up from Launceston in the South West Jenny Mills is another Dozen frequent flyer, running impressively to be comfortably under 2 hours and yet again claimed the F65 prize before heading back home.
Strong running from Dursley paid off and the senior men’s teams won for the second year in a row, beating Cirencester AC, positions were reversed in the women’s senior team event. Thornbury RC placed first in the veteran’s event, with Almost Athletes ahead of Emerson in third. Again Cirencester pipped Dursley in the female veterans event with Forest of Dean placing a happy third.
Dan Anderson won the Martin Blythe Memorial Trophy for the 5th consecutive year, but James Everett has taken his jacket off now and may well pose a challenge in the coming years.
01:19.33 Chris Macmillan
01:20.30 Andrew Gardiner
01:20.56 Dan Anderson
01:31.15 Annabel Grainger
01:39:21 Wendy Nicholls
01:40:18 Polly Ainsley
1. Dursley RC
2. Cirencester AC
3. Emersons Green RC
1. Cirencester AC
2. Dursley RC
3. Almost Athletes
1. Thornbury RC
2. Almost Athletes
3. Cirencester AC
1. Cirencester AC
2. Dursley RC
3. Forest of Dean AC
01:30.07 M40 Martin Humpreys
01:28.50 M45 Jonathon Newey
01:20.30 M50 Andrew Gardiner
01:42.22 M55 John Walsgrove
01:46.58 M60 Bryan Stadden
02:08.25 M65 Jonathon Bateman
01:44.03 F35 Holly Tugwell
01:31:15 F40 Annabel Grainger
01:39.21 F45 Wendy Nicholls
01:41.55 F50 Lynette Porter
01:52.07 F55 Kate Sackett
02:12.29 F60 Jacqui Winds
01:58.03 F65 Jenny Mills
Plenty of excellent placings for DRC in the age categories:
Joe Ball 2nd JunM, Keely Smith 2nd F35, Dave Wood 6th M50, Zoe Lammerton 3rd F35, Kevin Jackson 2nd M55, Margaret Johnson 4th F50, Alice Lewis 2nd F55 and Sam Martin 7th F35.
PBs for Jonathon Tudor, Margaret Johnson, Zoe Lammeton, Karen Eadon and of course Damian Lai, Karen’s PB c. 20 minutes! #Boom
Well done to the DRC back markers nothing like strengthening your relationship by running around with your partner, well done Emma Boxall and Mark Owen, and the club’s Lanterne Rouge, and hopefully immensely proud to be so, was Anya Wood who completed the course in under 3 hours, that is a LONG time to be out in the mud, snow and biting cold, respect is due!
As ever a huge thank you to our Race Director, this year Tony Freer in his first year after taking over from Greame Hawkins who had done such a fine job having taken the reins from Trevor Lewis. Also thanks to Marshal and Route Set Up coordinator Neil Parry, HQ and finish line coordinators Neil Truelove and Nicola Evered and of course to all our volunteer helpers and marshals without who this great race would not happen. Organisation does not start on race day and doesn’t finish for a while afterwards your commitment and hard work is much appreciated!
We also thank the Dursley Town Council, The Pulse, Dursley Community Association and Bosum Buddies for their help and support in putting the race
A runners view of the race, as posted by Maya Goodwin on DRC facebook page after the event, a MUST read:
“How hard can a race be that takes in your old school cross country route, and the route we all used to walk to our favourite pub in Uni holidays?
My school XC took me 20 mins, and I wasn’t the fastest. And a walk to a pub? Well beer makes any climb worth it when you’re in your 20’s with loads of laughing mates.Add on another 10 miles and you’re coming close. The race starts in the town, downhill for 50 meters and then STEEP UP for another 200. A tough ask, and there were walkers (including me) from about 100 meters. Then off the road and into the hill. Still up, not as steep but a narrow path and muddy. I won’t lie, I was delighted with the bottleneck and the chance to gather my thoughts and breath. We undulated to the top and the pack thinned out. A lot.
I could bore you with every hill climb up and every slippery trot downhill, and even now, just a few hours after I’ve finished, they’ve merged into one another. Here are the ones I remember.
Past Hilltop House. A house literally clinging to the side of the hill. I could see into their kitchen as we trudged (with purpose, I was still full of purpose at this point of the race) past, and I could see they were making roast dinner. I was contemplating how hungry I was when my Uncle David turned and said “Hilltop House. Not a very *imaginative* name, is it? How about Slipping Down The Hill House?” That made me laugh.
A slippery slide down to the New Inn. The village is called Waterley Bottom. No really. We are in the Cotswolds remember. The run down this hill was terrifying. Now I know I’m prone to exaggerate, but this was really really steep, and muddy. I looked at my watch and it said I was doing 25min miles. I guess the speedsters leg it down without touching the ground, but I wasn’t. I like my legs attached to me ta.
My family were at the pub to cheer me. I remained steadfastly Uncheered, especially when I turned to look at what I had to get up next. Are you KIDDING. A steep steep STEEP field. I’m told it is 1 in 4. I have literally no idea what that means, I just know it was steep. I grumbled and moaned and crossly got myself to the stile at the top. To which there was ANOTHER massive steep climb. Steep enough to have 4 turns to get you to the top. At the top was a marshal, who cheerfully yelled down to me ‘nearly there!’ I yelled back ‘No I’m NOT!!’ And laughed. At least I was laughing again.
And then the PRECIPICE. The clue is in the name, I knew there was a rope to pull yourself up. I imagined a rope like you get stapled to the walls as you walk up steep village streets. My imagination SUCKS.
“Are you kidding me? Why isn’t there a button lift here?” (I’m all about a button lift after last week skiing?) “Sorry love, it’s broken down, you should have got here earlier… “
It looked impossible. The people in front of me were almost bent in half at the waist as they pulled up the hill. The marshal said the trick was to keep the rope taut and just keep on going. It was SO tough.
Apparently the race leaders even use the rope and pull themselves up. I was glad of the thumb holes in my sleeves. It took what felt like forever, I kept having to stop every three heaves to get my breath back.
And then back onto the top, for another flat mile in the bitter wind and then a mile back into Dursley.
This race was a killer. It took me over three hours, I was hoping to be quicker, given the downhills too, but the mud, and the steep made for slower going. Nothing easy about it, nothing…! I’m really proud of myself for doing it, and it was a really pretty route with brilliant cheerful marshals who made me laugh.
Thank you for a brilliant birthday gift Uncle David, I know I grumbled a lot, but I’m not grumbling now”
Thank you Maya for a brilliant account, see you next year sub 3 hours?
A further runners eye f view has been provided by Shaz….
“Dursley dozen” Posted on February 14, 2017 by shazruns
“When I first moved to Devon I did a half marathon in the New Forest. The 13.1 miles were described as flat. I was not impressed when that was a big fat lie (press here to read about it) I realised then that unless the course description contained the words ‘pancake flat’ then it was more than likely to have hills.
Fast forward four years and things are very different.
I read the course description for the Dursley Dozen and it contained the words steeply, hill, undulating, steep descent, steep ascent, For the final climb “THE PRECIPICE” ropes are provided and mud, oh my kind of event, where is the credit card let me sign up!
Sunday morning I headed up the M5, wondering if it was going to ever get light, it was as though someone had put one of those energy saving lightbulbs in and it was taking for ever to reach full outage. Dreary.
Car parked, number collected, cake stall checked out (lots there I can take my time), serious 4×4 trainers on, hat, buff, hanky and gloves, all set. I followed the stream of runners to the start, all trying to keep warm.
10:30 we were off, downhill, yay, then 200 metres steeply up, is it too early to walk? No according to my calf muscles, walking was the only way forward. Fortunately a majority of those around me did the same. I was pleased to get off the road in to the woods, as it levelled out a bit, but it was still tough going due to the mud and then another climb.
The run basically went like this down, up, down, steep up, golf course, steep down, mud, muddy mud, up hill, gold course, road, slippy mud, rocks, road, mountain, snow, road, down hill. Every hill I came too I thought oh this must be the precipice they mentioned, but they haven’t added the rope this year. Each hill was tough and surely could not get any harder. Wrong. The precipice comes in the last quarter of the run, just when every leg muscle is screaming in pain. The rope was much needed for the first bit of the climb and then due to very poor arm strength (think T-rex) I opted to let the legs to the work and found it easier proceed without pulling. When the rope finishes I assumed wrongly that, that was the end of the hill, oh no we still had another climb up to the golf course. Then it was all down hill to the finish. Phew.
Another great event, with some very enthusiastic marshals and great support on the course. I got to the end without the body complaining too much and without falling over in any of the mud, so that must count as a success. Hills, mud and a sprinkling of snow, a great way to spend a Sunday. Oh and a great t-shirt”