Dunsfold Park 10k: Man vs wind

Dunsfold Park 10k

If you’ve ever wanted the chance to say you’ve run where Jeremy Clarkson once drove a sports car on Top Gear, the Dunsfold Park 10k is for you.

The race, an annual fundraiser for the Jigsaw School in Cranleigh, Surrey, takes place around the Dunsfold Park Aerodrome, with a backdrop of vintage planes.

Clarkson, Hammond and May used the site as test track during filming segments such as Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car.

Upon arrival, it’s a great thrill as you drive across the track on the way to park the car! I fight the urge to floor it, remembering I’m in a Suzuki Swift, not a Ferrari.

With that fun over, it was down to the nitty-gritty. After successfully strapping on my race number without any of the pins going through a finger (progress!) and wrestling with a few tags in order to attach my chip timer to my running shoes, I was good to go.

The course itself is two laps along the main runway, perimeter road and track. It comes with the howling crosswinds you’d expect and it’s pretty much man/woman vs the wind vs the clock. As it turned out, personally it proved a lesson in the sometimes lonely, solitary pursuit of running.

I managed to find myself alone for well over half the race. And it wasn’t because I was way out front. I was passed by a few early on, then passed a few myself. But then it was wilderness. Ideally you’d be in a group to draft off fellow runners, but in my case this didn’t happen.

The Dunsfold Park 10k truly is a race of two halves. Terrifically windy or completely calm. The wind is either full in your face, attempting to beat the resolve out of you, or as quiet as a mouse behind you.

For the first 1-2 miles all you can hear is plenty of sniffing and the loud rustle of runners’ race numbers as the wind tries to swallow them up. Once out the other side, it’s complete silence. An eerie atmosphere where you just hear sounds of the puffing plodder battling away behind you.

Throw in that the race is held in chilly November and it was an excellent challenge. It was one I’d expected after reading an event description that chimed: “Fast and flat, perfect for PBs”. When I see this, I actually think: “Bloody windy, PBs if you’re lucky.”

When all said and done, I achieved my target, placed inside the top 100 and ran my third fastest 10k. Dunsfold Park is a decent course, just make sure to wrap up and practice running in the wind!

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