It was a weekend where the weather conditions cast a completely different complexion on the the races that were taking place. Amazingly, in spite of the ice creating a slightly more precarious environment to operate in, all the scheduled races went ahead. One of those was the Winchester Off-Road Half Marathon which was put on by UK Running Events.
Set in the picturesque Hampshire countryside just outside Winchester with the route encompassing a varied mix of footpaths, tracks and bridleways that surround the infamous Farley Mount. There was a choice of two distances, a 14.5k and 21k, both of which were along a rolling hill type landscape and both of which started out at Sparsholt College.
Bravely throwing herself into the action in the 21k race, Lea Lohk foraged for some grip on the frozen ground on what was an extremely challenging route. The footpaths were narrow and she found herself constantly looking down at her feet in a bid to stay upright. Tripping on a tree route, she ended up hitting the deck at one point which was a bit of a shock to the system.
Fortunately she wasn’t hurt though and managed to pick herself up and continue. From that point on, she pretty much forgot about the competition and just concentrated on getting round safely in one piece.
The route included a tough ending where she had to go back up the climb she’d come down at the beginning of the race, which was a daunting prospect. She showed tremendous character and desire though to work her way up it and get to the finish line, overcoming the tumble she took earlier in the race.
Completing the course in a time of 2 hours 12 minutes and 41 seconds, Lea came in in 251st out of 378 and 64th female out of 134. She also claimed first place in the over 60 women‘s category which was a fine result for Lea, given the trials and tribulations she’d been faced with.
James Moore of Winchester & District won the race in a time of 1:24:32, with Lee Oxley taking second place in 1:26:12 and Danny Mackney finishing third in 1:27:02. Natasha Mansell Eyre was first female, completing the course in 1:33:08 which put her in 10th place overall.
Vicky Gill wasn’t far behind, coming in as second female and 12th overall in 1:34:07. Amy Chaplin was third female, crossing the line in 1:38:43, which put her 26th overall.
Despite her fall, Lea thoroughly enjoyed the experience and definitely intends to do the trail again. After all, the difficulty level is part of the beauty and charm of the trail. She tackled 1,100ft of elevation throughout the course of the race.
Looking back, Lea feels like the problem was more in her head than with her legs. Nevertheless, it was a lesson learned though and she was soon back running again afterwards, putting the trauma of her fall behind her once and for all.
Lea finished third in the 60-64 category for the season in the Dorset Road Race League which was an excellent achievement. Perhaps this season she’ll be in the hunt for it again and she’ll certainly be hoping for no such slip ups when she returns to the tarmac.