RA Fitness Blog, Races, Running

Race Review: What Came Before & The Nightjar

Every race is different, and that couldn’t be more true of these two races held over the weekend by Flying Fox Running. This is an events company set up to be inclusive and provide races in the Southwest, at the moment they’re currently offering a mixture of day and night trail races. Most races held by the company are on a Saturday night, with generous cut off times, to ensure everyone feels welcome.

Both the races I took part in were on the 14th of September, one in the afternoon and the next about an hour later. The distance options were different for each race, the first (What Came Before) offering a 10km and a 5km option, and the second being a 9.25 Miles or 5 Mile route. Personally for me I’d prefer the metrics to be the same, or even just to have the alternative in brackets next to it. This would just allow for an easier conversion in my head. Overall though this is pretty much the only qualm I have with these races.

Registration for both races happened in an outbuilding, which was also the eatery, with caterers providing food and drink. I was able to pick up both sets of numbers and tracking chips at the same time, before the races started, so after the second race I didn’t need to stand in the queue again. Potentially here, it may have been nice to have the same number and chip for both of the races, but it’s not a deal breaker. Two races, two numbers, is pretty standard for most events. There were plenty of pens, safety pins, and leaflets for the next races around to sort out the emergency information on the back of the numbers without needing to wait, which was especially useful for me as I rocked up about 15 minutes before the race was due to start, as I’d initially gone to the wrong venue.

The briefing for both races were pretty similar, going over the race details, any splits for each distance to be aware of and all the potential hazards. All race lengths were briefed at the same time, with a little mini briefing at the start line to remind runners about the spilts for the specific route. The longer distance set out first with a wait before the second distance set off.

Once you set off their were plenty of marshals lining the course. I would say there was at least one every 2km, with a lots more in sections that had road crossings. Each doing their best to encourage you on. At the way back to the finish line for the second race, marshals were quick to let you know about a brand new hazard on the route, a wasps nest. The marshals let you know it was coming up, then the next instructed you to keep on the left, and the final marshal stood close to the nest and checked that there were no wasps following you. Having been out running I don’t know how long it took to establish this but when I got there the system was working very well. Once I got back there were quite a few that had been stung, and the organisers were very apologetic, having checked the course a few times, and even having had the paramedics do a route recce before the races started, they had had know idea. From running through it I also still have no idea where it was, as didn’t see or hear a single wasp at that section. As a side note, all the marshals also get a medal for helping at the races.

Each race route went through parts of Woodbury Common, near Exmouth in Devon, and started with the up hill, to end with a quicker second half. We were warned for loose stones, and we certainly found them on the first route (What Came Before 10km). With a couple of hills, both up and down, having plenty of loose stones making it feel a lot harder to get up or down them. The second race (The Nightjar 5 Miles) didn’t have the same level of hazards, which made it feel a lot safer during the night.

The feed station was the same for all four races (although, the 5km race didn’t go past it), just the turning after it changed. Honestly, I didn’t stop at it either time so can’t let you know what was on offer, but if it was anything like the feed station at the end there was plenty on offer.

The two routes I did were fairly challenging, but not impossible. While it was hilly, there was no ascent that I came across that made me think ‘oh no’. They were all pretty gentle inclines, that were simply tough as they kept going, making them not races for PBs.

I’m slowly starting to realise that trail running and night running aren’t really my forte, but I still like going as they’re after great routes with plenty to see. Running through Woodbury was great, and you could see for quite a long way when you got to the top. During the night races we were treated to a fantastic purple sky and a full moon.

The medals at the end were also truly worth it. It feels like most of the race entry goes towards them, as they truly are stunning. They’re also very large, so definitely one if you like some race bling to get you through the run.

Overall I did really enjoy the races, my personal preference was for the day race, as the route really was stunning in the late summer sunshine.

Keep up to date with my running progress on Strava or on Instagram. I may also have some surprises coming soon.

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