Belvoir Cordials and soft drinks, favourite of designated drivers everywhere and surprisingly useful for flavouring cakes and icing.
Did you ever think about where the cordial comes from?
If you are from the Midlands, you are probably familiar. Little old me from Windsor however has always called it Belvoir, pronounced Bell-Voire, maybe it’s because I studied French as a child, maybe it’s because these midlanders are flipping weird. Whatever it is, yup here they call it Belvoir, pronounced Beaver, as in the small fluffy thing!
Queue lots of hilarity when I told my new Nottingham friends I wanted to run the Belvoir Challenge. When they’d all stopped impersonated the Queen’s English and laughing, they agreed it would probably be a good run.
Much like the Berlin Blue Door Supper Club, Belvoir Challenge is renowned for selling out. I think it opened on 2nd November this year, so I snapped up two places straight away. I’d originally heard about this race from a boss in a previous job and I knew he always ran the marathon distance. I also remember him telling me about all the hills and mud, so I was sensible and entered the 15 mile race.
Why is it so popular I hear you ask, this photo should tell you why…
Pre-race communications were great. After feedback in previous years and to make life a little easier for those that live nearby, they organised a Park and Ride. It was easy to find, easy to use and only a mile from the start/finish. We got there about 30 minutes before the start and had plenty of time to catch up with that boss, drop our bag in the hall, collect our bib and have a warm up.
(Top Tip – use the portaloo at the Park and Ride to avoid the queues!)
In the pre race communications they even provided the GPX files for both routes. I added the route to my watch, but didn’t even look at it once. I was middle of the pack and found most of the marking clear. My boyfriend on the other hand mentioned that the last few miles could have done with a few more markings.
Belvoir Challenge is a challenge, not for the faint hearted, there are big hills, about 10-15 stiles, and even after an unseasonably hot February, plenty of mud, slippy grass and sheep poo.
I had considered wearing road shoes considering how dry it was. Thank goodness I didn’t, I ended up on my bum once as it was, goodness only know how many times it would have happened if I had worn those road shoes.
The 15 mile course has two checkpoints, both incredibly well stocked, with all the food and drink you could imagine as well as friendly marshalls. I only wish I had actually taken in where the first one was as I expected it much earlier.
I think that Belvoir Challenge would be a perfect first taster if you are thinking of getting into Ultra and Trail running. They welcome walkers, so those with a walk-jog strategy (or walk-walk) need not worry. A hot cup of tea awaits those picking a slower pace than I. I almost stopped and had a nice cuppa, but not sure I would have got going again.
At the finish line you are immediately funneled into the hall, a bottle of that famous Belvoir Cordial in hand, and a line of MORE fabulous food ahead. Liam’s food report consisted of soup, bread, cake, apple pie and custard and more…! I on the other hand realised how little training I had done, how close Boston is and wanted nothing more than to curl up on the sofa!
On the way back to Windsor on Sunday, I realised I’d missed two things. I’d never actually seen Belvoir Castle and I’d missed the pork pie I’d promised to collect on the way back through Melton Mowbray, as well as Cropwell Bishop and Long Clawson Stilton Dairies! I think I’ll be back again for a run and visit to all the foodie stops afterwards.
Some kind souls gave us a lift back to our car. We had committed to the walk as a stretch out, but walking down a relatively busy country lane with no pavement was not that fun, so we jumped at the chance when offered – thank you to our rescuers.
I’d love to do Belvoir Challenge again, so fingers at the ready when 2020 opens for entries.
See you there?