Hermes Running certainly had all bases covered at Bewl Water on the Kent/East Sussex border on Saturday (11 May) where the race distances ranged from 10k to a 37.5 mile ultra-marathon.
Bewl Water is situated in the River Bewl valley, about two miles south of Lamberhurst in Kent. The reservoir can hold more than 31,000 million litres of water; enough for 200 million people. Activities taking place at the popular tourist attraction include fishing, water sports, walking, cycling and lots of running events.
The Round Water route provides the basis of the event and the 800 acre site is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the heart of the High Weald. Heavy rain prior to race day had made a few stretches a bit sticky but the conditions were otherwise optimal for the 750 runners competing in four events.
Any race at Bewl Water is testing but the ultra runners deserve special mention for enduring their three-lap challenge, with almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Eight men and one woman completed the course in less than six hours and the toughs of the trails were Peter Summers (Handy Cross Runners, 5:02:11) and Kate Mitchell (Cambridge Harriers, 5:51:15).
The marathon only took runners past the tempting Waterfront Cafe once at halfway and the winners were Oscar Hummerstone (3:16:41) and Michelle Lennon (Dulwich Runners, 3:43:53) – another lady to finish in the top 10.
The half marathon attracted the largest field – 350 starters – including our photo group of runners who look pretty happy with their sub-3-hour pace. A little further up the trail were the winners Rob O'Loughlin (7oaks Tri Club, 1:23:06) and Katrina Hamlin (1:36:09) who was representing the splendidly named Hong Kong Sports Clinic Trail Running Team.
Finally it was the turn of the sprinters who had a modified course of just 10kms to negotiate. Just over 160 finished inside two and a half hours with the pace being set by Robert Smart (44:43) and Laura Bellhouse (47:23) who was followed by Gemma Gibaud (47:39) as both also made the top ten overall.