RRR’s New Year’s Eve Steeplechase Run

In years gone by Romsey Road Runners traditionally blew the Christmas cobwebs away with a social club run. This year the tradition was revived on New Year’s Eve with the Steeplechase, four routes of differing lengths each ending at Romsey Abbey. The longest started at Winchester Cathedral and clocked in at just over 19 miles; the half marathon went from Farley Mount; the 10-mile route from the church at Kings Somborne and the 6-mile from the medieval church at Mottisfont. All the routes were mainly on trails following the Clarendon and Test Way paths.

A group of wet runners and a couple of dogs outside an abbey
Runners outside Romsey Abbey after the NYE Run

Forty-three intrepid souls (including four walking-wounded, one Jack Russell, one Cockapoo and two spaniels), set off in torrential rain and wind from the four start points with the aim of all converging on Romsey Abbey at 2pm for a photo call before heading off to the nearest pub. Conditions were dire, with tracks turned to rivers and bogs, but it all added to the fun, particularly the sections over the water meadows which were knee-deep in water. The four dogs – Poppy, Jim, Elsie and Monty – took to it with gusto, bounding cheerfully through the mud and swimming through the waterlogged sections, clearly thinking it was all a great adventure.

RRR’s wonderful session leader Moira Sankey ran the 6-mile route with friends Lin Windsor, Karen Keane and Richard Vie. Moira said, “the 6-mile route from Mottisfont involved a few styles and paths that resembled paddling pools of the ‘cool’ variety. The weather was seasonal, (rain and wind- in other words ‘great fun’ if you are a runner!). Although the 6-mile run was the shortest, I take it from my fellow runners that it was the hardest – happy to go with that!”

Alice Jenden, who only recently joined the club, also took part in the 6-mile run. Alice said, “It was a windy and wet day but I really enjoyed it. There was a sense of true camaraderie as we ran through mud, climbed over fences and powered through some deep puddles. It was a great way to meet more people from the club and I can’t wait to do the next one!”

Deb Ferre ran the 10-mile route from King’s Somborne with her friend Julie Shanker. Deb said “it was lovely being out there enjoying the elements. The first half was easy going but we knew what we were in for from Kimbridge- lots of mud & very wet feet! It was great to be part of a fab club event – can’t wait for the next one!”

Lottie Budd, who took up running in 2022, also took part in the 10-mile with her faithful hound Elsie. Lottie said, “never in my dreams would I have thought I’d run 10 miles enduring lashing rain in my face, being completely soaked through, mud covering my shoes – only for the mud to be washed away by running in what felt like a brook, rather than a trail – yet laughing and having the best times!”

Jonathan Pillinger-Cork who took on the 19-mile run said, “starting just before 11am on a wet, cold NYE in Winchester, the long uphill out of the city turned out to be the easiest bit, with me, Neil Jennings and Tim Parker all making good progress before the mud started at Farley Mount, then it was mud, river, mud, downhill river, mud, gate, fall over etc till the end. With the water in the water meadow up to my thighs and Squabb Wood turned into the “River Squabb”, it sounds bleak and pointless…but it was not.  The company of Neil and Tim was just the catalyst for keeping a good pace and making it to the end.  Meeting up with other runners on the course gave us all the fillip to keep going. In summary, the running was tiring, muddy and very, very wet, but the people were encouraging and supportive – it was just what was needed on NYE.”

Nigel Hemsted also ran the 19-mile route with friends Elizabeth Prinsep and Giovanni Buldrini. Nigel said, “once we reached the edge of Winchester the route was in glorious countryside. Despite the constant rain and wind which built up later in the run we kept cheerful, and had jelly babies to keep us going. The highlight of the route was saved to the end with ankle deep mud in Squabb Wood and then a kilometre of wading through water across the Romsey water meadows. It was a great day with a real sense of achievement when we reached Romsey Abbey.”