Race report submitted by Blake Kesic
Have you ever gone for a run without starting your watch or accidentally left it at home? Not knowing your pace or how far you’ve done.
How about running somewhere new and relying on Google maps to find your way back?
Well, what if I told you there is a race where you’re allowed no GPS, no phone and no money. No one to shout stop at the end of rep or that you are going too fast. A simple 10 or 15 mile (bigger is always better) mile race where all you need to do is make it back to the start. Sounds easy right?
Oh did I forget to mention that you are blindfolded, taken on a bus and dropped off in the middle of nowhere without a map, route or even a compass? Welcome to The Drop – the race I was trying to describe to everyone at the Christmas party without sounding like we were paying to get kidnapped.
Also it seems to be one of few races not cancelled this weekend.
For all of you out there worrying, you were allowed to start your watch and have a phone in case of emergencies but this was in a sealed pack, break it and you are disqualified. Let’s face it, if it’s not on Strava it doesn’t count! (which it is minus the bus part, I don’t want to give Kipchoge too much of a run for his money).
After meeting fellow group 3 runner David Gallagher at Chester marathon (wearing the club vest always helps you make friends) we decided that we fancied something a little different. So a few months later we signed up for this. After getting a kit list the day before a frantic trip to Northern runner was needed, because someone (me) didn’t have any waterproof trousers. It’s not my fault I always run in shorts!
Fast forward to the day of the race, and getting on a bus being taken somewhere without even being able to look out the window. Unfortunately, I was not in the SAS and couldn’t recall how many turns the bus was taking and in which direction. That plan was also quickly thwarted by the bus driver who seemed to take a lot more roundabouts and reverse in quite a few places. Although on the bus ride the blindfolds were kindly provided with a bag of sweets too (definitely not kidnapping). Stepping off the bus the group of hostages, I mean runners, split off in multiple different directions that were not sign posted, with 4 to pick from.
Apparently according to a bin (my geoguesser skills helped here) we were in the middle of nowhere around the area of Tynedale. We found out that we got dropped off somewhere near Corbridge which coincidentally one of the guys doing the race lived near (he later went on to win the 15 mile race in 2 hours 34). Attempting to follow his break neck speed resulted in him disappearing up a large hill into the mist at a four way roundabout, great! Because what would make running in the freezing cold and snow more fun? Mist!
We were on our own, in the wildness but we did see a pub! Eventually we found ourselves onto the military road, which was a very long and straight road, thank you Romans! I wish they made the road flatter though! We followed this run for what felt like hours I don’t know, I couldn’t tell as the sun had disappeared behind the mist never to be seen again.
Eventually we made it to Heddon-on-the-Wall, yay a place we had actually heard of. Newcastle is getting closer but we were getting tired. A gel and drink later we were back in business, expertly navigating onto West road after a little stint on the A69. Which surprise surprise another hill loomed. What I thought might be a relatively flat race turned out to have almost 400 metres of elevation. I promise I’ll never complain about Kenyan Hills again!
Exhausted, cold, hungry the thought of a roast dinner and pint loomed on our mind. The 4 hour cut off was getting closer and we felt so close but so far. But we did it, finishing where the bus picked us up, the Cosy Dove and cosy indeed it was.
Final time 3 hours 58 minutes, final distance 21 miles(ish), or for people like me about 33/34 Km.