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Cyprus 4 day Challenge

Little known Tewkesbury member Mike Bryce has made a big splash in Cyprus. Mike, who's main sport is triathlon, has been putting his running shoes to good use with some fantastic runs. He took on the annual Cyprus Challenge - which has been on my 'bucket list' for 10 years - and took the time to write a few words about how it went for him...

"The Cyprus Challenge, as the name suggests takes place on the sunny island of Cyprus at the end of November. Consisting of four races over four days, this was my first foray into multi-day events. The races all take place in the area of Paphos making great use of the Akamas Nature Reserve which provides some amazing scenery both in the hills and down to the sea.

The event combines a 6km time trial, 11km hill climb, trail half marathon and finally a 10k road race.

Day 1 – 6km Time Trial

Starting at the race HQ of the Coral Bay Beach Resort Hotel, this road based event kicked off at 3pm. Runners set off at 10 second intervals and race their way through banana plantations to the finish 6km away in front of a ship wreck. For those of us over-enthusiastic types, blasting off in the heat of the afternoon sun proved naïve at best! After a fairly brisk 4km the damage was done and the overheating began. The last 2km were an unpleasant experience. Setting off at 10 second intervals also meant having no real concept of where you’d placed as someone could finish 15 minutes later and be faster.

Race time: 24:56 (33rd place)

Day 2 – 11km Trail Hill Climb

This race starts by the sea and after a flat 800m start, begins to ascend up towards the finish 11km away in the town of Pano Arodes. Apart from a couple of short descents, the whole race climbs with a total ascent of nearly 650m. Dry dusty trails (a far cry from the UK) wind their way through vineyards, forest and barren moonscape valleys.

Race time: 1:05:33 (36th place)

Overall time: 1:30:29 (34th place)

Day 3 – Trail Half Marathon

The race route had to be altered at the last minute when the organisers discovered a car rally was using part of the proposed route and as exciting as it might be, the dangers probably outweighed the adrenaline rush. Starting out in the village of Neo Chorio, the route climbed for a few kms before a 6km quad burning descent down to the sea. This was definitely a course to lift your head and soak up the views. The rest of the course was an undulating trail along the sea into a stiff headwind finishing with 400m along the sandy Toxeftra Beach. After the previous day’s run, legs are starting to feel a bit wooden.

Race time: 1:39:15 (30th place)

Overall time: 3:09:44 (30th place)

Day 4 – 10k Paphos City Run

Starting and finishing by the castle and small fishing harbour, this is a fairly flat road race. That said, by now even stepping up a curb (or getting off the bus) is somewhat of a challenge. It’s very evident that there is a lot more warming up and stretching going on than in previous days. What is also apparent from the off is that everyone is acutely aware of who is close to them in the overall standings as numerous mini battles unfold on the course. From my point of view, given the state of my legs and time difference to 29th place, my goal is to defend 30th which immediately becomes a war of attrition as my rival shoots off like a scalded cat. His goal is to either sneak 30th or most importantly, not lose 31st. However, the 32nd placed runner has also gone off like a runaway train…….and so this goes on. Needless to say we’re all now running at a very uncomfortable pace. The finish times really don’t reflect the effort that went into that final showdown.

Race time: 43:02 (34th place)

Overall: 3:53:46 (30th place, 7th M40)

The best part of the final race is the free beer at the finish. A strange concept when the race has finished before 9am but stood in the sun celebrating the previous four days it just seems right.

The overall winner, Ben Livesey (3rd time winner) rattled the whole event out in under 3 hours which quite honestly, is mad.

Would I recommend this event. Absolutely. The race organisation is faultless and the atmosphere and camaraderie are brilliant. For an end of season race and a blast of warm sunshine to boot, you can’t go wrong. And upgrading to all-inclusive at the hotel meant plenty of lager based rehydrating!"

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