I recently blogged about The Watford Half Marathon giving you a preview of the course and some of its passing features. On May 6th we see the second major running event in my home town made famous this week by the uber-hot Mila Kunis who apparently is going to drop by Vicarage Road to watch The ‘Orns.
But I digress. The 10k is delicately known as “The Bluebell Run” as it passes through quite the most spectacular bluebell wood I’ve ever seen.
Warm up in Cassiobury Park, (walking distance form the end of the Met Line and very accessible for all forms of transport) and assemble under the tree-lined avenue that forms the backbone of the park.
At the Starting Horn, (the ‘Orn – it’s a Watford thing…) head off round the top of the park and back down to the Gade River Bridge. If you had time to do so as you jostle for a place in the bottleneck it causes you’d appreciate the folksy little elfin carvings in the bridge woodwork and the coppiced willows on the river bank. But you won’t. You’ll be galloping over the canal and uphill on a gravel track towards the West Herts Golf Course and on towards the awaiting and aforesaid Bluebells.
Somewhat alarmingly, you actually run across the Golf Course midway down the fairway of the Fourth Hole. I know golfers who would pay good money to put in a drop shot from tee to green over the heads of the now stretching line of runners now on their second kilometre.
And there it is. At 3k you turn left into the heart of Wippendell Woods. Blankets of blue sweep between you and the forest depths. I do like bluebells; mainly because they also come in white. That takes some courage. It’s like Spring Greens also coming in a shade of orange. Bold they may be but pick them, and they promptly die so its much better to enjoy them in the wild. And besides, Bluebells are protected against sale by law so it’s illegal to dig up the bulbs and sell them.
The path through Wippendell woods is as well-trodden as it is wide and forgiving even when wet although stubborn tree roots will snare low rising feet. 4k sees you emerge to a shaded side road called Rousebarn Lane which loops you back alongside the woods. After a short and early rise you can relax into a steady stride with this mostly downhill section. But at 6k you hit a short but brutal little hill to return down to the canal and the ordered suburban Gade Avenue that takes you back into the park.
You think it’s all over as you re-enter the park but don’t be misled by the flat traverse alongside the river. It turns right and uphill for the 9th k extracting a heroic effort from your now wobbly legs. You head up the same tree-lined avenue you started from and return towards the finish line and the awaiting throng of Watfordian supporters. Shout “You ‘Orns” for maximum effect as you cross the line and they’ll think you’re a local.