The Cotswold Classic is a firmly established event in Witney, Oxfordshire. The event itself is sponsored by Wychwood Brewery. It’s a relatively hilly/undulating course with one particularly long climb known locally as the ‘hillzakilla’ (total elevation gain is 518ft). There is however, a very fast finish with the last mile and a half being more or less downhill.
Witney is just off the A40, approx. 13 miles from Oxford and 27 miles from Cheltenham.
The race HQ is on a quiet road just to the north of the town located in the main hall of The King’s School, New Yatt Road, Witney, Oxfordshire OX29 6TA. Parking is available and there are plenty of marshalls to direct you.
Although pre-registered, no numbers were sent out before hand and your race number (with attached chip) needed to be collected. This was by race number rather than surname which did cause long queues as not everyone knew what their race number was.
A secure baggage area is available and there a changing areas. Although these were just classrooms and the first thing I had to do on entering was close all the blinds else the other competitors would have seen more than they bargained for.
The start was 1 lap around the school field and then out onto the roads around Witney and surrounding villages. Once on the road the runners followed the Wychwood Brewery car, although I wasn’t quick enough to see it other than parked up in the car park afterwards.
It is worth noting that the roads are not closed to traffic during this race and some of the country lanes you run through are quite narrow, meaning having to run in single file at times. It was however very well marshalled and a safety car was out checking on everyone around the course.
As mentioned the course was quite undulating with a total gain of 518ft. However with the ups there are also a number of downs. One in particular around mile 5 was that much of a drop I did feel like waving my hands over my head like kids do running down grass banks. However once at the bottom of that hill it’s time to deal the ‘hillzakilla’, which was between miles 5 and 7 it was particularly hard work, running around Peterborough doesn’t exactly prepare you for this.
There were water stations at mile 3 and at mile 9 and a marshal with a bowl or two full of jelly babies once you’d manage to complete ‘hillzakilla’. For those who had any problems a first aid team were also waiting at the top!
A few more ups and then the last mile and half is all downhill and you can get some pretty quick times. I managed to drop 30 seconds a mile off of my time at this point bringing me in well under the Diamond Standard time I was hoping for.
The finish is back at the school where you started from, digital clock displaying the gun time at the finish line and compare reading out names and interesting facts as you came through. Apparently it was quite a big deal that I’d come down from Peterborough to take part.
Once over the line though I felt the race organisation let itself down a bit, no funnels or people greeting you with your finishing goodies, you were just left to mill around. Luckily I spotted the queues for the finisher t-shirts and more importantly the bar.
Results were provided by DB Timing and available straight away. A computer and printer were set-up near the finish were you could type in your number and get your race stats.
A pretty well stocked refreshments stand was there with the normal; hot dogs, burgers, crisps and snacks, along with hot and cold drinks.
Couple of little issues, but otherwise definitely a race to add to the race calendar for next year!!