Yesterday, as I was sitting on the sofa dithering about when and where to run the 40 minutes easy that my training plan called for, an email came through from my running club reminding me that we were hosting the Wimbledon Common MABAC that evening. My dither vanished. The MABAC it would be.
Those of you who aren’t lucky enough to belong to one of the nine member clubs of the MABAC league will probably never have heard of it, despite the fact that it was set up in 1977. This is a crying shame, because the races are fantastic.
The aim of MABAC was to organise a series of cross-country events aimed at the fun runner. As a general rule, the races are on a Sunday morning (the Wimbledon Common MABAC is the only one to take place on a midweek evening), 5 miles long and on trail, and in the spirit of inclusiveness most are two laps, with a 2.5 mile race for juniors and walkers. The Wimbledon Common race is the best of the lot*.
It starts with two sides of a playing field, which takes you to a gap in the trees and over a narrow bridge (1). If you don’t want a short walking break at this point, either position yourself at the very front and run like the wind, or at the very back and enjoy a slow warm up jog***. Once you’re over the bridge, there is a gorgeous flat section alongside Beverley Brook (though you need to watch out for the mischievous tree roots, which claimed at least one victim last night). You then turn right by the very cheery marshals (2) and make your way up a steady, but runnable, climb, bearing left at the next set of very cheery marshals. Yet another bunch of cheery marshals mark the top of the climb (3) at which point you can relax into one of the common’s finest runnable downs. A short stretch alongside the brook brings you back to the beginning of the loop (4). Turn left up the hill, take care to appreciate the work that the hill-steepening pixies have done since you were last there, enjoy that fabulous down and then run back along the brook (where the route-stretching pixies have been hard at work), over the narrow bridge, around the playing fields, through the finish and straight into the Rugby Club for a sumptuous buffet and a chat.
If there’s a more enjoyable way to tick off a training run, I’ve yet to find it.
* If you are partial to a post-run buffet, fond of Wimbledon Common, and able to make such statements based on having run a grand total of 5 of the 13 events**
** Which I am.
*** There are no prizes for guessing which of these options I went for.