Sunday, 20 September 2015

Running up Charlton Road, Hitchin

The start of Charlton Road, from Hitchin 
 Charlton Road is just outside Hitchin, Hertfordshire.  This is all "very Hertfordshire" with leafy lanes, gentle rolling hills and probably has a good number of millionaires in the area.  For me I sometimes drive through this area on my way home from my office in Stevenage and I am getting to explore some of the good runs in the area.

Turns out Charlton Road has two running segments on Strava and, from memory, one segment for cyclists.  I have cycled this Cat 4 climb a few times but the best bit is RUNNING!

It gets used quite a bit by runners and cyclists as normally I see at least one or two, sometimes more.  Cyclists tend to go up the hill, runners tend to prefer coming down.  Not me, I prefer running up!  Each time I have parked my car in the pretty village of Preston, at the top of the hill.  I either run down the hill and straight back up (a bit boring) or perhaps do a circular run mostly on the roads, as I did in the Strava print out below. Additionally I am gradually piecing together a number of bridlepaths and footpaths which are very pleasant in this area.

In terms of stats, the "Charlton Hill full climb" on Strava is 1.3 miles and a rise of 249 feet.  My PB time on this is 12:41 and places me 62nd out of 121 other runners - this is simply not good enough for me.  The other segment is the "Charlton Hill steep bit" which is just 0.2 miles and has a rise of 121 feet (but it feels a lot more than that!  The steepest section is 1:4.  My positioning improves on this bit with me being 21st out of 121 other runners.  My PB is 2:31 which I'm sure I can improve a little.  I know this is all a bit nerdy but it must be proof that I like running up steep hills!

The day these photos were taken, I bumped into another runner.  I think he said his name was Sean and he's also a blogger but concentrates on wildlife.  We had a little chat while he took the photo of me (below) and he explained he's doing the Couch to 5k programme (aka C25k) and he looked as if he was doing very well, certainly not a complete beginner.

The actual climb
The first part of the climb is a gentle incline (picture below) with arable fields either side.  The lane passes through a wooded area where it gets steep and steeper still as the road winds its way up the hill...Once out of the wooded area the road levels out and fields once again are on either side.

Credit to Richard Puckey who is the course leader for the steep part segment with a really impressive time of 1:27 (against my PB of 2:31) and the fastest woman is Sarah Mitcherson who ran it in 2:30 back in 2012.

Charlton Hill, near the start and only a gentle incline

Charlton Hill,   approaching the steepest part by some lovely farm buildings.
Very Hertfordshire!

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