Three Molehills - Race Report

27 November 2014, 17:31

I become a bigger and bigger fan of Events to Live with every race I run. I first encountered them when I ran my first Bacchus race in 2012, and then this spring I also ran their 20 mile Spitfire race and together they really sealed my undying devotion. They’re a small events company, local to Surrey, and they just put on really great races in their local area, with interesting distances, terrain, and sights. They’re always reasonably priced, well organised, and with the friendliest marshals I’ve ever encountered. The end result is that when I sign up to one of their races, I know it’s going to be a good time.

The Three Molehills race is predominantly a relay event, with each leg taking in one “Molehill” – it’s a great play on words because they’re hills in the Mole Valley, but also the hills are massive, so calling them “molehills” is like a tiny pat on the head to the beasts that are Box Hill, Norbury Park, and Ranmore! You can also opt to run the entire race as an individual, however, taking in all three hills over nearly 16 miles, and so of course, that’s what I chose to do, and happily, my friends Chris and Cat were equally crazy!

Three Molehills - elevation
The elevation for the course, recorded by my GPs app

It’s impossible to talk about this race without also talking about the weather – it was an utter downpour for the entire day. Raining sideways, windy on the tops of the hills, flooded streams, and large amounts of standing water pretty much everywhere. The only way to get through it was to just accept that you’d get soaked to the bone, and bring a towel and change of dry clothes for afterwards (which is what we did).

Three Molehills - Box Hill steps
Box Hill stairs. Photo credit: Amy Heinen

The first leg was the steepest, taking in the infamous Box Hill (infamous because it is the steepest hill in the entire south of England, used by cyclists every weekend trying to replicate the Tour de France mountain stage feelings). Usually the course has a choice of stepping stones over a creek, or a longer route going over a bridge, but the creek was so flooded the bridge was the only option (and even that became flooded the next day!). Across the bridge it was the a relentless line of muddy steps up the side of the hill, which Chris and I ran up most of, trying to pass our way around all the walkers, before having to stop and wait for Cat and the top anyway. We took a second to admire the views before returning back down the steep slope, past the motorway (where we got full-body sprayed by so many cars I lost count), and back to base before turning around to start the second leg.

Three Molehills - group shot
Photo credit:

The second leg was the longest, but also one which had a more undulating terrain around a wide loop, rather than a distinct “up the hill then down the hill” like the other two legs. This one went through Norbury Park and included a lot of woodland stretches, and the trees looked absolutely gorgeous in the rain – the dark, damp trunks a pleasing contrast to the autumn foliage. I think this is my favourite of the three legs. If I’d run it as a relay in future, I’d personally go for this one, as I’m well suited to the up ad downs spread over a longer distance.

Cat and Chris both then stopped in for a loo break when we were back to base before starting the third leg. There weren’t any portaloos and there were already people finishing the race (!!) so it took them a good 10min to fight their way through people changing so we could get started again. The third loop was completely familiar to me since it was the same course as the end of the Bacchus half – an out & back up Ranmore along paved paths, past the church and a little ways along some flat meadow before turning around again the way you came.

This was a great finish to the race because a) you already knew exactly how much you had left, b) you could admire the views as you ran down the hills through the woods, and c) having the finish be entirely downhill means you can really fly and sprint right into the finish line!

Three Molehills - finishing straight official
Photo credit:

Having finished the race, we picked up our medals, bottles of beer, and chocolate bars, then quickly got changed into dry clothes before we got any colder. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have been more wet had I gone swimming – every layer had to be rung dry, and yet I didn’t have a single blister!

Three Molehills - beer and medal

It wasn’t until we checked the official results in the pub afterwards that we realised that we actually came in last place (for the solo runners anyway – a handful of relay runners were behind us)!! This was a first for all of us, as we’re pretty fast runners, but we were taking it a bit leisurely, plus there was that 10min toilet stop, but still, coming last was a shock! We mostly just found it hilarious, which is all you can do, really.

Three Molehills - team last place
Team Last Place!

We reckon the reason was two-fold: it was an incredibly fast field, but also, we imagine all the slower runners took one look out their window on Sunday morning and went right back to bed! Which is the sensible option, but definitely not the fun one.

Three Molehills - afterwardsThree Molehills - triathlon leggings after
Photo credits: Amy Heinen

I ran this race in some leggings that I sewed myself (which you can read about on tomorrow) and they felt great throughout the entire race. I’m proud to say that I even got a few compliments from the other runners while I was running, too! They look like they were made to be doused in mud – you can barely tell it for the wild, geometric print, perfect…

Three Molehills, 23 November 2014, 2:40:40

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  1. Oh so what if you were last! You went and had a great time with friends in some fashionable leggings, Congrats!

    — InĂ©s    30 November 2014, 20:43    #

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