Race report – Julius Naim
This weekend was the last race in the Imperial Series and the first of the year for the White Star Races. The Larmer Tree Races are hosted by the Larmer Tree Gardens in Tollard Royal, complete with roaming peacocks and a wonderful setting. The races over the weekend are either the 10 miles or Half Marathon on Saturday and the 20 miles or Marathon on Sunday.
White Star Races have become known for their unique atmosphere with less emphasis on time and placing but on the enjoyment of the run including a rather boozy aid station aptly named the Love Station in all their races. What is often forgotten is that their races are damn tough, just ‘getting round’ is hard going and all finishers end with a real sense of achievement and the pleasure of shuffling around like a zombie post race. Larmer Tree entry includes a ridiculously wonderful medal, these things are no joke, and while the top positions get wonderful prizes it’s nice to have the challenge of completing rewarded with something special.
As I had entered the Imperial Series I had already raced at Lytchett 10 and Bournemouth 10, the final in the three races was the Larmer 10. The races were all the same distance, yet notably different; from a significantly undulating road race to a flat coastal road race and then finally, at Larmer Tree, a hilly off road affair.
I had made the decision to enter the 20 on Sunday too as a more social affair; I had raced the 20 and Marathon in previous years and was content to just enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and setting.
The 10 set off with some real pace, and over a very challenging course; despite this, I was less than 10 minutes off my time at Lytchett; another performance in the series to be happy with.
The next day came round soon enough and back I went to Tollard Royal. Overnight rain and the previous days running had made the course even tougher, I ran with my good friend who had (no doubt, with the euphoria of completing the Imperial Series) turned into Duncetta and some other wonderful buddies.
Post race, both days, you get fed; you get a choice of all manner of grub from a fry up, to burgers, to pizzas or soup.
Highly recommended experience and my favourite racing weekend of the year.