A COVENTRY WAY (40 miles)
An Athletes View on the 1998 Challenge Event by
Benton Green - Kenilworth - Stoneleigh - Stareton - Bubbenhall -
Ryton - Wolston - Bretford - Brinklow - Oxford Canal - Ansty -
Barnacle - Bedworth - Corley Ash - Corley Moor - Meriden)
What is the
Coventry Way? It is a route using mainly footpaths describing a
rough circle around, and about 6 miles from the centre of Coventry.
It shares part of the route to the west with the Heart of England
Way, and part to the east with the Centenary Way, as well as
utilising the Greenway (the disused railway line to Kenilworth), and
the Oxford Canal towpath. It can be walked, jogged or run at any
time of the year, either as a whole, or in sections, or as some folk
have done, walked it at night.
What is the
terrain like? Mostly off-road; I'd say not more than a couple of
miles of road. Fairly flat, though there are seven flights of steps,
over 100 stiles, and 30 gates of various kinds. You will cross
dozens of meadows with varying depths of grass, fields in various
states of agriculture depending on time of year (ploughed. harrowed,
seeded, cropped, and harvested), and a golf course. You will walk on
pretty enclosed paths, rough paths. 'nettly' paths, woodland paths,
farm tracks, farmyards, towpaths, footpaths, and bridges. You will
walk under bridges, through a tunnel, through a castle, through a
factory and through a private garden.
Will I get
lost? Not very likely. Not if you buy the excellent book
accurately, describing the route in maps and text, at about 2 miles
What is the
Coventry Way Challenge? It is an event designed to encourage use
of the route for walkers, individual joggers and runners, and relay.
teams of 8. This year it was on October 4th. There is no official
start time, nor necessarily an official start & finish. However,
if you wish to be timed, you start and finish at the Queens Head in
Meriden. There are no marshals and no drinks stations, and waymark
signs are sporadic. If you do intend to jog or run the route it is a
must to 'reccy' the course first, otherwise the amount of time spent
on navigation over 40 miles (over 200 instructions in the book)
would be daunting, as would be the effect of taking an occasional
wrong turning. Even having done a 'reccy'. you must be careful -
some fields, and their paths, had been 'ploughed and scattered' by
the time we did the event!
effort. Barry, Dale & I set off at 8.45 a.m. on what turned
out to be a very, grey day. I won't go into details. it would fill a
dozen pages, but a few, points are as follows.
Early on Barry
found it hard to jog so slow (9.30 pace). At 6 miles Bob Carey
appeared and took our rucksacks in his car, appearing every 2 miles
or so with drinks and rucksacks, right through to 32 miles where he
was running a relay leg. Couldn't thank him and his dad
At 9 miles a
group of faster runners shot by, us. At 18 miles Dale dropped out
(knee). As our legs tired, the roads became purgatory to run on -
Barry took to walking bits of road. but strode out so well, 1 had to
jog to keep up with him.
At 37 miles we knew,
we'd cracked it, and ran one of our best stretches from Corley Moor
via Meriden Shafts, to the Queens Head reaching it in 7 hr 25 mins
- just 2 minutes outside the old record - but 70 minutes outside
the new record!
Photos with the
Lord Mayor, and a couple of pints (she paid!). Big cheers in the bar
whenever another runner or walker arrived. No entry fee, and a Tee
A very small,
very friendly event - congratulations to the organisers. It would be
nice to see a few more people taking part, but it clashed with so
many events this year.
perhaps a relay team to try to crack the record of 5.08 set by