The recent rainfall and high winds may have eased but the 30th anniversary Benfleet 15 will still be challenging for the 1,000 entrants in this multi-terrain 15 miler over Hadleigh Downs on Sunday (19 January).
The past two years have seen record fields of 658 and 825 finishing the course at Hadleigh Country Park – venue of Hadleigh Mountain Bike Course, used for the London 2012 Olympics.
Rest assured the tough mountain bike circuit will feature in Benfleet 15 – we would expect nothing less – but there are still plenty more testing aspects to this beautiful course with sections across Hadleigh Downs, past Belton Hill Nature Reserve and Two Tree Island and beside the waters of Hadleigh Ray and Canvey Island sea wall.
There is an official short-cut option at 8 miles, avoiding a four mile loop on Canvey Island beside Castle Point Golf Course and runners taking that option report to the marshal at this point.
Last year's men's race was a classic battle between team-mates. Springfield Striders' Chris Burgoyne (1:30:50) and Alex Manton (1:30:53) were the only athletes near 6:00-per-mile pace as the final two finishers were just outside four hours.
The women's champion was Charlie Nurse (Wigston Phoenix AC) who ran with her husband Rob Nurse for 1:49:38 for 53rd overall.
The weather this year is set to be good with 4-5C and sunshine with a gentle breeze. The race organisers, Benfleet Running Club
and Nice Work
race management, recommend runners to dress appropriately as parts of the course can be rather exposed.
One Benfleet 15 tradition is the exclusive design, colour-coded medals (pictured above) with gold, silver and bronze awarded to specified groups of finishers. All finishers will receive a technical T-shirt and there are chip-enabled race numbers to ensure speedy results.
The course has been checked by Benfleet RC volunteers and #JemTheDog
(pictured below) who is now busy guarding the medals, so we are all set for another great battle of Benfleet on Sunday!
Look out for our race report in runABC South next week.
Images courtesy Benfleet 15