Hardwick Hobble 2023 report by Ash Mellors

Ash Mellors next to a sign that says: "A hill is nothing but a flat road going up..."

Do as many laps as you can (or want)

Race date: 16 September 2023

Race distance: Unlimited! (Ash did 25.02km)

Race report by Ash Mellors

Set in the grounds of the magnificent Hardwick Hall, I took on the Hardwick Hobble, which isn’t your big standard event. Before I get into the nitty gritty of the run, here’s a bit about the event organiser.

Rasselbock Running (https://rasselbock.co.uk/), set up by one man who had recently run across America (he won’t openly talk about this, you have to bring it up in conversation). Their motto is “running events for everyone”. They couldn’t be more accurate. The plan was to launch in 2020 (but we all know what happened that year), so it wasn’t until January 2022 that their very first in person event was launched in Sherwood Forest. The run itself was just over 5k loops within the forest within a 6 hour window. You could do as much or as little as you liked: as long as you completed 1 lap, you got a goodie bag and a medal.

This format has been carried over to many of the Rasselbock events that take place in and around the East Midlands area (Holme Pierrepont, Gedling, Shipley Country Park and as mentioned Sherwood Forest). This year they introduced a backyard ultra. Simply run the same 4.19-mile loop every hour until you can’t run anymore (last person standing basically).

Their events are welcoming, inclusive and the routes are fantastic. With some very energetic marshals alongside the incredible aid station (sweets, cake, biscuits, drinks) when you’ve finished a lap, you couldn’t ask for much more. Laps aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I personally like the challenge of doing as much as I can within 6 hours. Alongside the events, they have merchandise available to purchase from recycled technical running t-shirts, neck warmers, trucker caps and enamel mugs. I’d highly recommend these events, so go check them out. Also, they’ll have a stall at the National Running Show in January too!

Now, the run itself. I wasn’t best prepared for this as I’d come down with a nasty bug, which I was still trying to shake off on the day of the run. But I’d committed to doing the event alongside a couple of friends who were also taking part. Plus, as I also committed to doing 12 half marathons in 12 months in 2023, this was my September event so there was no backing out.

Just 117 runners on the start line, it wasn’t like your big road events. The route was just over 6.2km a lap with a mixture of grass, woodland trail and the occasional tarmac road. Not to mention at least 6 gates along the way. A great route with a fair bit of undulation, fortunately though we didn’t have to run up “that hill” up to the hall (if you know, you know). Some great views of the hall as you snaked around the grounds. It wasn’t a closed event, so members of the public were out on the same paths offering some much needed words of encouragement at times.

To get to my half marathon target, I needed to complete 4 laps. Lap 1 passed by without any issues. Lap 2, got a big hairy at one point. I started to feel cold, shivery and my legs felt a bit like jelly. With the bug/virus I’d had still lingering, I thought this was going to end my run early. After a fair bit of walking, lap 2 was done. I waited around at the aid station for a couple of individuals I knew out on the course and soon enough I was out again for lap 3. Feeling much better after a few strawberry laces and 2 cups of full fat coke, the lap went by really well. Before long we were back at the aid station for more goodies. Full fat coke, strawberry laces and peanut butter pretzels did the trick this time. Onto lap 4 and the individual I was with decided this would be her last lap too so we took in the sights, walked a fair bit and had a good old natter.

After each lap, your race bib containing a QR code is scanned to ensure you have returned from your lap and the results are accurate. When you’ve completed as much or as little as you like, you ring the bell back at the aid station. You then collect your medal and a selection of goodies.

A thoroughly enjoyable event despite feeling a little under the weather and it’s definitely one I want to have another crack at when I’m fully recovered.

Full results: https://rasselbock.co.uk/live-result/ (you may have to filter Year and Event to display the results for this).

As I touched on earlier, I’m currently 3 quarters of the way through my 12 half marathons in 12 months and it’s all to raise some money for Stroke Association. If anyone can spare a few pennies, here’s my just giving page: ttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anm1982


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