Tunnel Vision is an annual race along the Brampton Valley Way in Market Harborough. The run takes place once the sun goes down along the disused railway line and tunnel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxendon_Tunnels. It’s quite a dark, eerie place in the daytime let alone in the evening.
Anyway on to the race, undecided whether to take part I contacted the organisers a few days before who confirmed that entries were being accepted on the night. Perfect – I could wait to see what the weather was like! They advised that those who hadn’t entered should turn up at about 6.30 so I put on my winter gear and took the short walk from home to the Brampton Valley. At this point there wasn’t too many people around so I braved the pitch black path with only my head torch and stakes in the ground with glow sticks attached.
Entering was really straightforward – I used my phone for light this time around to fill out the form! From then on the event really started to fill and Brampton Valley was full of runners in hi-viz and lit up as much as possible. I found my club mates and we stopped for a quick photo before heading the short walk to the start line. Being a chipped event there was no worry about where we were positioned in the line, even though it was narrow I’d planned to take it steady.
The race started and I soon found a pace that I thought I could stick to. The track is deceivingly uphill heading towards the tunnel so I was determined not to wear myself out early on. A mile and a half in we made it to the tunnel where a photographer stood flashing the camera at the runners going by. I tried to pose but I’m not one of those who looks particularly great in a mid-race photo!
Going through the tunnel was such a unique experience – with lanterns running along both sides of the tunnel some of the puddles and dips were more obvious than others, the rest it was take the chance using your own head torch or following the person in front’s lead.
Heading out of the tunnel at the other end the faster runners began to make their way back through. This didn’t affect me too much as I had runners both in front of me and behind me which helped guide the way. Around the 2.5 mile mark the turnaround point came and we were all handed a flower garland to wear around our necks to prove at the finish line that we’d completed the course.
I was glad to be on the home stretch to the finish line – it was the sort of race where you really had to watch your feet – it would have been very easy to slide on some mud or trip through a pot hole, along with other runners torches in your eyes and that it was single file.
I crossed the finish line in 50.42 and was handed a medal which was a nice surprise. From speaking to other runners the past mementos have been branded drinking glasses. This wasn’t just a medal though – it even glows in the dark! Tea, coffee, water and cake were also available to those who had ran and I have to say the carrot cake was so delicious and well-deserved.
The organisers also held a Dawn Run using the same route at 6.30am the next morning, instead I opted for a lie-in! Maybe next year? Great race, great organisation and a truly unique experience.