Get in the running for Wheathampstead 10K
PUBLISHED: 13:41 15 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:10 20 February 2013
As runners limber up to take part in the 11th Wheathampstead 10K/2K run on May 23rd, organisers explain how the scenic route is one of the things that keep competitors coming back year after year
IT is this beautiful countryside around the village that has drawn runners back year after year. What was meant to be a one-off fundraiser for the local infants school has grown into a much loved annual event that sells out long before race day.
To date it has raised more than 60,000 for Beech Hyde School which we have used to build playground equipment, an outdoor classroom area, as well as re-stocking the library and purchasing interactive whiteboards.
Along the Greenway
When you arrive at the Marford Playing Field/Memorial Hall you will find yourself being marshalled away from the main playing field to the start at Sheepcote Lane. The 10K originally started on the Marford Playing Fields, but would grind to an immediate halt as the masses of runners would reach the single file bridge that crosses the River Lea.
After a brief uphill pull, the new start now allows a quick entry onto the Ayot Greenway, the old track bed that was once the Welwyn Luton railway line. Here you can quickly stretch your legs and enjoy 3km of dappled sunlight created by the tree tunnels that have formed since the demise of the line.
Into the bluebells
At Hunters bridge, you will be directed left along the bridleway alongside the edge of Fish Wood. If you are lucky there may still be signs of the bluebells that create a carpet of deep blue in the spring. The route opens up and skirts the edge of fields before turning back upon itself on the taxing uphill section that leads to the drinks station at the 5k mark.
As the route levels off take time to enjoy the vista that opens up to you as you reach the top of the hill and can see across the Lea Valley.
By the river
Once through the drinks station the route begins to descend into the Lea Valley and picks up the river back to the village. After 2km following the river you will sense that the village is within reach, but then comes the first sting in the tail of the Wheathampstead 10K. With only one field between you and home the route doubles back on itself up a gradual incline which saps the strength of those tired legs before depositing you back on the Ayot Greenway.
Down and round
Its downhill and through a delightful switchback of bridleways before reaching the Marford Playing Fields and crossing the bridge. At this point you feel it must be over: you can hear the music, smell the barbecue, but here comes the second sting in the tail. To ensure that you have run a full 10K, the route skirts the edge of the Playing Fields and even has the audacity to turn you away from the finish line before lining you up for a final run in to the Finish Point close to the Memorial Hall.
Youll be tired but we hope the village hospitality will revive you. Most importantly, we hope that you enjoy this wonderful route and come back and join us each year.
On your marks
The 2K Family Fun Run sets off at 10am from Marford Playing Fields
The 10K Race sets off at 11am from Sheepcote Lane
Entry forms available at www.wheathampstead10K.co.uk