Box Hill, as you’re probably aware, is an area of the country famous for being high, especially in terms of South London anyway. The 224m high hill is home to an ascending route known as the “zig zag road”, which cyclist revere as one of the great UK climbs to attempt. It’s kind of like a mini Swiss mountain pass, covering 2.5kms of distance from the base to the top. If it was in Alps it wouldn’t even be mentioned, but in the UK, we’re not really spoiled for choice when it comes to high places, so it’s a pretty big deal. You may remember cyclists using the route during the 2012 Olympics.
The Beat the Box race is the first time a running event has used the famous route, so I was ridiculously keen to give it a go. Especially considering how nice Box Hill and the surrounding area is. There’s far worse places to spend your Sunday.
So, what is it exactly?
Right, so starting at the top of Box Hill, runners head down the 5% incline zig zag road for 2.5km, at which point they turn around and do the same road upwards. There’s a 5km option and a 10km option, although the course is perfectly designed for opting out at 5km, if you realise that you may have bitten off more than you can chew.
Aside from the glaring hill, it’s a just your average run of the mill 5km loop.
What’s the course like?
Well, as you can imagine, the 2.5km downhill is an absolute dream. The whole race takes place on very smooth roads so it’s a joy to hit hard. It’s also not so steep that getting down becomes tricky, so you can kind of enjoy yourself and stare out at the beautiful scenery (trust me, it’s an amazing view) while you wait for the impending uphill.
To be honest though, the steady decline also means there’s a fairly nice incline as well. Sure, you’re running uphill, but it’s a manageable uphill that, if you take it steadily, isn’t anywhere near as scary as the race initially sounds.
How much was it?
How easy was it to get there?
I took a train to Dorking to get to the race from London, which was pretty quick. From there you needed to walk for twenty minutes or so to the race bib and chip collection, before making your way to the top of Box Hill. So basically you have a nice little hike before it all kicks off at the top. The parking is situated at the bottom of the hill, so worth bearing in mind if you have anyone with you who may struggle to get up it.
Considering it was the first time RunThrough had hosted the event, and the fact that the logistical issues of getting people to the top of a big hill must have been fairly tough, it all went pretty swimmingly. The only thing I noticed was that a handful of cyclists, presumably angry that they’d travelled to Box Hill and been told they’d have to wait for the race to finish, decided to ignore it and use the roads anyway.
Did I like it?
I loved it. I’ve done 57 races so far this year and I think this one goes down as my favourite. Yep, there may have been big hills involved, but there’s also a massive easy downhill, so it kind of levels out. The fact that you’re in one of the most picturesque areas of the country makes it a pretty damn special place to take part in a race. I also got a chance to hang out with these guys, which was a nice surprise. Finishers got a sweet medal AND a finishers t-shirt (modelled here by Fitcetera) as well, so not too shabby for the cost.
Did you do the race? What did you think of it? Give me a tweet or leave a comment below.
For more information on future RunThrough events, and to check the results of the Box Hill race, head over to the website here.