Friday, 29 November 2013

"You don’t have to be an adult to run cross country!"

Simply Sports has interviewed Reigate Priory Holly Run Race Director Donna Barrington-Smith, who is “Volunteer of the Year 2013” in Reigate & Banstead Sports Council. She explains the news of this year, gives us advice about the race and invites us participate in this traditional course, organised by Reigate Priory AC and sponsored by Simply Sports, which will take place on Sunday 15th. December.

Donna Barrington-Smith, "Volunteer 2013".
- How do you prepare for this event?

This is my first year as a race director; for a few years I was Chief Timekeeper, and I’ve been a course marshal on many occasions too. The handover from the 2012 race director to me started before the 2012 Holly Run, then at the beginning of 2013 I started attending “RPAC Race Director” Meetings each month as we also run a Summer 10k in July and a Cross Country Relay race in November. This meeting entailed each of us discussing what we had done, what we had to do and offering assistance and advice to each other. A fantastic learning curve in the art of managing road and cross country races for me! Once the date (Sunday 15 December 2013) had been agreed by the RPAC committee and Park Manager at the Priory Park, Reigate were happy too, then we were able to book the Red Cross and start making contact with other parties involved, like the medal engravers (£5 on the day) and our sponsors, Simply Sports.

- Which is the news this year?

The news for 2013 is a NEW longer circuit for the Women of 3.6 miles at 12.55pm.

- Why is longer the race (5,8 kilometres) for ladies this year?

This year RPAC are introducing a new course for the women. When I took over as Race Director I heard that the entrants in the women’s race had started to drop. To find out why, I asked a number of club and non club runners on their thoughts, and their response was that they wanted to run longer than 3 miles and didn’t like the very steep hill that they had to run down – it’s nick named, “Breakneck”! Therefore I have devised a new course which is 3.6 miles (5.8 km) long and goes UP the hill instead of down...  I’m looking forward to hearing feedback!

- Will it be a hard or complicated the circuit?

The ladies course, as with our other HOLLY RUN routes, will be well marshalled and sign posted. The park can get very muddy when the weather is constantly wet, and this is a real cross country course – there are over hanging trees, tree roots, mud, rubble, sand, tarmac, grass, up hills and down hills... A challenge, I’d like to call it!!

- How many runners do you expect this year?

Throughout the eight races we expect between 400-600 runners.

The race will take place on Sunday 15th.

- Why do you consider The Holly Run is a race for the whole family?

You don’t have to be an adult to run cross country! Many of the local schools encourage their children from the age of 9/10 to run, so we have a course especially for the Under 11s (minimum age of 8 years on race day). There are then races for Under 13s, Under 15s, Under 17s and older. Races for the 8s to 88s – the whole family!

- Why do you think that the Priory Park is a good place to celebrate this cross country race?

Priory Park is simply delightful! It is well maintained, offers a real mix of terrains for walking and running, and throughout the year is used for many other wonderful outdoor community events. For non runners, there’s the cafe, excellent children’s playground, tennis courts, football pitches, skate park – and all within minutes’ walk of the Reigate shops...  The road and train routes are also excellent.

- What are your recommendations to complete the race?

For first time runners of the Holly Run or those who are unfamiliar with the course, I’d say make sure you leave enough time to walk the course prior to your race starting (the maps are online). You’ll see where the ups and downs are, where you’ll need to push yourself and where you can relax during the run.  Make sure you are around the start line at least 5 minutes before the race starts and make sure you keep warm! Be prepared for the terrain and the weather. It does get muddy and can be icy with the mud becoming solid. This is a course of laps, so also be aware of runners who are either faster or slower than you are, so that everyone has an enjoyable race.

Donna Barrington-Smith, Reigate Priory Holly Run RACE DIRECTOR
Reigate & Banstead Sports Council “Volunteer of the Year 2013”
UK:Athletics Official – Timekeeper, Photofinish Judge, Endurance


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