Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quit Your Wine-ing: Surrey Bacchus is Here!

On Top of Ranmore Common
I walked into this race with a ton of apprehension. I did not feel ready at all to run 13.1 miles on the hills of Surrey. Legs still did not feel ready. "Trial by fire" was the phrase that came to mind as I boarded the train at Waterloo. At least the trains were working, unlike last year.

I was hoping by this time I would have had an answer about my foot. In a amazing feat (feet) of almost Monty Python proportions, Bupa gave me a doctor for hand injuries, not feet. Imagine my surprise after telling the nice Doctor all about my condition, only for him to say "I wish I could help, but I am a hand specialist."

Oh well, it was a nice office. 

Anyways, onto the race!

Not a Bad Venue....
Location: First off, Denbies Winery is crazy close to the Dorking train station. Heck, if you wanted to you could get there with 20 minutes to spare and you could roll up to the start as long as you did not have a bag drop off or bib pick-up. Probably. Don't quote me on that. 

However getting there does require an epic roundabout navigation. And it can get quite busy-- so hone your Frogger instincts!

Bib Pick Up: Queue manic queues #1. It got a bit confusing as we were not aware the lines were split into alphabetical ordering. We realised this quickly though as we got towards the front, told the people behind us, and quickly truffle shuffled to the correct lanes. I wish they would move people along who were just loitering in that room, made it a bit more chaotic.  

Loos: I can only speak for the ones in the Winery, as I did not use any port-a-loos (my loss). Of course there was a line, but it moved quickly enough and there was plenty of toilet paper. There was a woman in there tidying up and checking the stalls so good kudos for that!

Bag Drop: Easy and quick. Same for pick-up which is a Godsend when all you want is to change out of your trainers and into flip flops. 

Much Super Glue was Used to Make This...
Atmosphere: Wheee! Such a fun vibe on and off the course. As you can gather, most people are in fancy dress (especially the half) so it's a very friendly race. Cheering each other on ("Go Batman! Come on Robin, don't let Batman show you up!") and typical banter is very common. It makes me doubly glad that headphones are not allowed. A running buddy (@_jen_mo) put together a video of our group and the race in general which you can watch here.

Drink Stops: Well this is really what we all come here for. The wine... err.. water stops. Whatever. There were 7 stops this year, with 1 (near Ranmore Common) being dry, I assume thats because it's on National Trust land. Who knows, maybe they didn't have any more wine choices. 

Either way, all the stops have amazing volunteers distributing wine, water, and various treats. It was a cornucopia of culinary delights: swiss rolls, brownies, bananas, oranges, jelly babies. Pretty much anything a runner could want. The wine samples were a bit small, but I think they have no issues with you going up for seconds. 

Stop 4 and 7 we definitely my favourites. The former was served by two older gentlemen in waiter uniforms. I wanted to take them home with me and adopt them as my grandfathers. They had an amazing band playing. Whatever group that runs that drinks stop should get medals. It was brilliant.

Stop 7 was at the top of the hill overlooking the Winery, so the end was in sight. This was the only stop that I saw that had red wine, but what got me was the food serving was: cheese and crackers. Oh. My. Goodness. I could have stood there and ate it all, but with finish line looming-- I managed to tear myself away. 
One negative was some of the stops were overrun (literally) with people, so the queues were getting a bit unwieldy. 

Hog Roast/Finish: Yes there were even more treats after we crossed the finish line. Tea (I love this country), coffee, water, and again more snacks, including pineapple and melon. However, no point in filling up when you have a hog roast to look forward to! The portions were pretty great with some good sides and the ever important applesauce. They also had a vegetarian option, but I cannot comment on that.
My Personal Notes: I did this in a run/walk fashion, this worked out well as although I was part of a larger herd of unicorns  (actually it's a blessing), the two friends I was running with were also fine to do a walk/run so there was never the "I am slowing people down" feeling. I also kept telling myself to manage my expectations, I was not going to finish in the time I did last year. It was also quite warm (about 18° C) and no clouds in sight. Is it an excuse? Maybe but I am going to take it. I had a great time, and even partook in a sprint finish. 

Conclusion: This is a pretty brilliant race, with epic views of the Surrey hills. There are also cows (real and people in costume) on the course, which is always a win for me. Great volunteers, marshals, and a venue with ample parking and close to rail. I have not run this course in the rain, but I feel everyone is having such a good time it would be taken in stride.     

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