Arundel x Fauna 10k: Man vs views vs hills
With the smell of manure in the nostrils and the fresh air of the South Downs all around, a new race hit the running calendar in late May as the Arundel x Fauna 10k made its debut.
This event is one of a burgeoning number of races organised by Nice Work.
It takes place at Hiorne Tower in Arundel, an ideal location for staging such an event. There is plenty of parking but allow enough time to get from the car to the Portaloo. You won’t want to waste too much energy before the run actually starts.
Distances range from 2k, 5k and 10k. I took part in the 10k, while wishing at halfway I’d picked another option. It’s multi-terrain, but mostly across grass and over pebbled trails.
The 10k is formed of two laps of the estate grounds of Arundel Park. So, I had it in my mind to coax myself round the first 5k and then I’d know how to approach the second part. Let’s call it a fact-finding mission.
However, what is it they say about the best laid plans?
I’d trained for this one. But nothing could prepare me! The jaunty pre-race announcer noting he’d “see you all back here in 20 minutes” should’ve been a clue.
Starting on pathway adjacent to Hiorne Tower, the surface is decent and the rise is gradual. I’m an experienced enough runner by now to know not to blast away at a ridiculous pace. So I didn’t.
But where I came a cropper was through miles one and two. These are fantastic miles for landscape scenery, as they sit between a valley of South Downs views either side. They are also terrific (and often terrifying) for fast, downhill running.
I must’ve enjoyed them too much. It meant the unforgiving hills up ahead were laughing to themselves as they chewed me up and spat me right out. Several times over the last 5k.
I’d had a tough time in sunny conditions down in Bognor some years back, but Arundel was next level discomfort!
Aside from the glorious downhill section, the elevation never really stops coming. My cadence off my running watch afterwards only served to confirm what I felt. My legs were barely lifting themselves up for a good portion of the race.
It’s interesting what you go through mentally during a race. My mind was working out which body parts weren’t starting to ache. There wasn’t many, certainly not down the left side of my body. Post-race I heard someone moaning about how their core was in agony. Join the club I thought.
After finishing, my initial reaction was of frustration at finding it so tough. However, having had time to reflect, it showed I was in decent shape to come in under an hour. Especially on a warm, sunny morning.
There are a few teething issues with the Arundel event. And there was a distinct feeling of being guinea pigs at the first outing.
A massive red flag concerns the distance. I, like many I overheard or spoke to at the end had major discrepancies on our watches.
Main complaints were about the fact 10k (6.2 miles) was completed and we still had at least another half a mile to run before reaching the finish line. In such an energy-sapping race, it just gets runners’ shackles up if the measuring turns out to be so far off the mark.
Whether this contributed to many of the runners heading straight for the car in annoyance afterwards is unclear. Even the prize-giving at the end barely featured anyone who’d stuck around.
Perhaps a sports massage tent would be a welcome addition at the next Arundel 10k. Coffee is great and all that. But three stalls to choose from seemed excessive. Maybe this overwhelming need for a caffeine pick-me-up was another sign of the toughness of the course.