WildMan lives up to its name at Ash Vale
23rd November 2015
The Off-Road Series has always had a reputation for being tough, but the 2015 WildMan was looking to be extra wild when at around 8am on Saturday, the sleet suddenly transformed into thick snow, sending the Human Race crew scurrying under the registration tent to shelter! However, refusing to be beaten, the sun fought its way through and perfect racing conditions prevailed with a bright blue sky and crisp November air.
Over 600 athletes made their way to the army testing ground of Ash Ranges, ready to take on either a 10km or 15km trail run, or a gruelling duathlon where the hardy off-roaders would take on first a 10km run, then an 18km bike and a final 5km run. Notoriously hilly and muddy, it’s you versus nature at this one!
Nervous and excited faces lined up for the two trail runs with the 10km kicking off first, shortly followed by the 15km. The sense of relief on the start line that the snow had done a vanishing act was as palpable as the enthusiasm to get going! The infamous WildMan crocodile was given a small head start and the runners were soon set off in pursuit. Catching the crocodile meant a treat at the end, providing a bit of extra motivation for our off-roaders.
Spurred on by marshals who refused to let the cold get in the way of their energetic cheering, the first finishers were soon charging over the finish line to collect their goodies. To reward everyone for their efforts, the finishing team were on hand with a tasty Zipvit Sport chocolate caramel protein recovery bar, a huge tub of classic sweet shop treats (Refreshers or a Drumstick anyone?), Popchips and some Alpha Bites cereal to take home and snack on later. Oatopia were also a hugely welcome sight for the tired athletes, with their usual tasty range of flapjacks, porridge and toasties on offer. For an extra treat, Stromboli Pizza were a new addition to this year’s event, selling their tasty thin crust authentic pizza – cooked on site in a real pizza oven!
The 10km victory belonged to one man, and that was Ben Gateley, finishing in a time of 46:11. He was closely followed by Martin Hollywood in 47:55 and Lee Olen in 50:14. The winning lady Robyn Cassidy was streets ahead of her competition, storming over the finish line in 48:47. She should also get a special mention for beating the time of the third place male runner and getting herself on the overall podium! Second was Sophie Biggs in 51:43 and Nicki Scott in 54:20.
The 15km was won by Charlie Elliott (Ful-on-Tri) in a cracking time of 1:04:16, with Lee McMeekin second in 1:06:30 and Richard Bull (Clapham Chasers) hot on his heels in 1:07:03. For the ladies, it was Alice Hector of Evo Tri who took the win in 1:11:39, ahead of Claire Rogers in second (1:12:13) and Jennifer Millett (1:18:30) in third.
The duathlon at the Off-Road Series is always a highly competitive affair, with many familiar faces returning to battle it out year after year. Tom Elwood came out top with a stunning time of 2:00:21, pulling out a superior bike leg after a run that was neck and neck. Rick Fetherston (Specialized Concept Store) was close behind in 2:01:44 and Ross Smith came in third in 2:03:55.
Jackie Field (Haslemere Borders Athletic Club) took the female win in 2:27:06, with Rachel Clay (Petersfield Triathlon Club) second in 2:29:56 and Ruth Purbrook third in 2:33:10. Ruth’s transition skills deserve a special mention – in and out of T1 in 31secs and T2 in 30secs!
Everyone who raced at WildMan deserves a big pat on the back for looking out the window that morning and deciding to brave the extreme conditions anyway. We’ll see you at the next one in two weeks’ time – IceMan at Frimley, where you can enjoy either an 11km or 16km trail run, or the duathlon (10km run, 18km bike, 5km run). To get 15% off your entry, use code OFFROAD15 when you enter online at www.humanrace.co.uk.