What a fantastically fun weekend of running events I’ve just had courtesy of Believe and Achieve. Who can resist a couple of well organised fun runs in fancy dress. Friday night was the spooktacular Ghost Race 5 followed by the all new Oktoberfest 6k on Saturday morning. You could sign up for both as a package at a discounted rate, who could resist that offer? Not me, that’s for sure. Can’t beat a bit of running in fancy dress, any excuse really! Better yet was that Oktoberfest was starting at a very reasonable 11am which meant I could still get in a cheeky parkrun beforehand, as long as I stayed local this week.
Lets start by talking about the Ghost Race, I did it last year and absolutely loved it. The premise is very simple, it’s a Halloween themed 5 mile night run around Hilsea lido and on through the historic Hilsea Lines conservation area. Headtorches are compulsory and fancy dress is strongly encouraged. I have to say the majority of the 350 runners that took part really got behind this and went to town with their costumes, it was a fantastic sight and great to be a part of it!
Rob Piggott and his events team had gone all out with the preparations. The race HQ and start was from the running track at the Mountbatten centre. The track had been converted into a spooky neon lightfest! There was music and a fire show put on for the waiting runners and spectators too. Elise and Lucy from Manic stage productions, pictured below, were fantastic, displaying both awesome costumes and skills. Sadly I can’t take credit for either of these two fantastic photos, they were taken by Habibur Rahman of the Portsmouth News who was in attendance to cover the event. Here’s their piece on their website.
Last year I’d gone dressed as a Killer Clown and had originally planned to reuse that costume with a few embellishments this year. However, given the recent spate of idiots around the country freaking people out by dressing up as killer clowns, standing on street corners at night, I decided against this. I went for my backup plan of a home made zombie costume instead. Ripped, torn and dirty old clothes, make up and an abundance of fake blood and I’m good to go. A simple and inexpensive costume, the jeans I was wearing were old ones that had worn through in numerous places and were going to be thrown out, instead they were repurposed as zombie rags. The shirt I picked up from a charity shop for £3.50. Make up packs were 99p each, so I think total outlay on the costume was £5.48. The headtorch slightly more than that, but I’ll review that later.
I bumped into my friend Aimee or should I say Wednesday Adams before the start and we decided that we would run it together. This was going to be my first night time run using my new LED Lenser H7.2 headtorch. I was looking forward to giving it a try seeing as my Petzl Tikkina just wasn’t cutting the mustard anymore. Just before 7pm we were all ushered on to the running track to get ready to run. Bang on 7pm we were released to run, a plague of zombies, ghouls and goblins released upon the unsuspecting public. The course took us around part of the running track and then out of Alexandra park and on to the shoreline, along the footpath to Hilsea. Even in the early stages it was apparent that my new headtorch is just fricking awesome! I had a few comments on the way from other runners, I never knew that there was such a thing as headtorch envy. The light that it cast drowned the light of other torches, I’m seriously impressed with it.
Once at Hilsea we trooped over the footbridge over the A3, the bridge rocked up and down under the weight of the undead hordes in a slightly disconcerting manner, if your footfall wasn’t in time with the movement of the bridge it created a very odd sensation! Once off the bridge we entered Foxes Forest. This is where I need to talk about the volunteers and marshals out on the course, they were fantastic, very supportive and had also got into the spirit of things with costumes a plenty. Throughout the forest there were creepy ghouls coming out of the woodwork, sound effects and spooky decorations and lighting. The events team had really taken things to the next level with the special effects, this race just gets better every year. I love the passageway we have to pass through, it’s a tunnel of terror, the atmosphere tense as you make your way through its dark recesses, expecting to be pounced on at any second. Having navigated this dark hell hole we are back into the forest and the horrors that it holds. When we got to the loop back point and started heading back towards the start you could see a procession of headtorches across the water, I wish I’d gotten a picture of it as it looked amazing! The return leg went pretty quickly back along the shoreline and back in to the Mountbatten centre, round the track and over the finish line in a nice steady 55:01. Not an earth shattering time, but for me the race was more about taking my time and enjoying the atmosphere and the course, not about attempting a five mile PB time.
All finishers were presented with a fabulously detailed ghost train medal with pumpkins for wheels and a ghost or two thrown in for good measure, but that’s not all, with a toffee apple for all and water and squash available to quench the thirst. I think there may have been some sweets and other bits and bobs too, but it was Friday night and the pub was calling so a slightly hasty exit was made. On a side note, it always amuses me greatly driving to and from a fancy dress event in full costume, especially when you need to stop off in Tesco to pick up some bits! You don’t half get some funny looks. The same applies when you visit a pub afterwards! Some of the comments and looks are simply priceless! If you’ve not done one of these spooky night runs before then I can’t recommend it enough, so much fun to be had. Just make sure that you’re armed with a decent headtorch, costume and a sense of humour and you can’t fail to enjoy yourself.
Stay tuned for a report on the Oktoberfest 6k run!