Posts Tagged ‘trail running’

Wuthering Heights Wander 2022

Thursday, June 16th, 2022 | Sport

I first did the Wuthering Heights Wander last year to expand my trail running experience. It is an 8-kilometre loop that you can do any time from Once (like I did last time) to lots of times (for the ultra distance). This year, I was there for the three-loop course.

The course starts with a climb over the hills and down to the Bronte waterfall. I was fifth by the time we reached it but once we got to the top of the hill it changes to a downhill road section so I opened up my stride and moved up to second. I held onto this until almost the end when I had a chat with fellow HPH-er Michelle. As we were chatting the guy in third came past me so I had to sprint off to reclaim my second place!

I finished in:

02:30:39

Not quite as fast as last year but I did run three times farther!

Organisation by It’s Grim Up North Running was pretty slick with the exception that they couldn’t get hold of any toilets due to the Jubilee weekend and having no card facilities for the barbeque.

Keswick Mountain Festival

Thursday, May 26th, 2022 | Sport

The Keswick Mountain Festival is the UK’s premier mountain festival. How many mountain festivals are there, though?

I signed up for the 25k. I do not do a lot of hilly running but I thought “even if it is twice as hard as a normal 25k, that would make it a 50k, and I can manage that.” Luckily, it was somewhere in between. It was hard but not in the way I expected. The uphills were fine but the trail was quite technical: a lot of it was rocky or steep gravel descents which meant I was carefully picking where I put my feet.

This meant I was moving slower than I expected. When I signed up I put myself in the sub-3:10 category because I thought I could pretty much walk it in that time and how hard can it be to maintain a walking pace? Well, pretty hard when you’re worried you’re about to go flying. It was unrunnable. And yet, everyone else was running it. I didn’t want to do that because I was worried I would slip. But everyone else just got on with slipping (and they did slip!).

In the second half of the course, it got flatter and less technical and I was able to speed up. I hit the 24k point at around three hours and thought I would probably make it in under 3:10 after all. But the course turned out to be 25.5 km long so when I hit 25 k I could not see the finish. One last push and I crossed the line in:

3:08:38

Good enough for 176 out of 408.

The weather was okay. A little bit of train. In the UK, you sometimes get all four seasons in one day. But in the Lake District, you seem to get all four seasons every day. The route was beautiful with the caveat that I rarely dared to take my eyes off the trail.

I made a video about it that you can watch here:

Roche Abbey trail race

Thursday, April 14th, 2022 | Sport

I booked the 32k Roche Abbey trail race as a prep event for Race to the Castle. Unfortunately, five days before the event, Race to the Castle was cancelled. But it would still be a useful test of the legs after breaking my ankle in December.

It was a three-lap course. We took the first few hundred metres together before the eventual winner accelerated off into the lead. I settled into third place but was down to sixth by the end of the first lap as everyone found their pace. After the second lap, I moved back up to fourth as the other runners slowed down. It was annoying. If they had left me for dead I could chill out. But being close to the podium I wanted to keep pushing.

As we approached the aid station on the final lap, I saw the third-place runner ahead of me. He wasn’t moving too fast and stopped entirely when we reached the aid station. This would have been fine but I was hurting by this point, too. By the halfway out-and-back, I was 3.5 minutes up but I was running out of energy myself and had to do a bit of run-walk.

As I went up the big hill through the woods I realised I had run out of water. Probably the first time ever! For some reason, I had done my maths incorrectly when filling my bottles that morning, so I had estimated my water intake correctly but did not put enough water in the flasks. I was about 20 minutes from the end so there was nothing to do but push on.

In the end, I was still moving faster than everyone behind me and finished 10 minutes ahead of fourth place. Unfortunately, Grim Up North are now only giving out trophies to the winners, but it’s still officially a podium for third overall.

Wuthering Heights Wander

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 | Sport

Racing is back! Last Saturday I took part in the Wuthering Heights Wander in Haworth.

The course is an 8-kilometre trail route from Haworth village to the Bronte waterfall and back, taking in 180 metres of elevation gain on each loop. You can do a single loop (5 mile) or as many as six for the ultramarathon.

I’m not a big trail runner. I thought this was my first trail race but I have since remembered that I did do the Kirkstall Abbey 7 4 years ago. Additionally, it is rated 5/5 on Grim Up North’s difficulty rating (“Grimmer Than Grim”). Given this then, I decided to take on just one loop.

I was aiming to take it easy and enjoy it but ended up going around the course in 46:41, which was good enough for 7th place in the 5-mile category. Despite the better-than-expected pace I very much did enjoy the run. The descent down to Bronte waterfall was technical but it was otherwise relatively easy running albeit with some hill climbs. Might be very different after heavy rain! But fun enough that I am going to look at more trail races, and coming back to Haworth, in the future.

Plus, it was Grim Up North, so excellent homemade cake at the end.

Trail running

Saturday, February 20th, 2021 | Sport

Traditionally, I’ve been a road runner. I like it. You can focus on the pain. Trail running is fun and I am not always a fun person. But I am challenging a lot of beliefs about myself recently and one of them is that getting my feet wet and muddy may not be as bad as it first seems.

Lockdown 3 has been miserable. It is long and the weather had been terrible for months (I am writing this in the middle of February). I have not taken my bike outside since Christmas Eve. But I have been running in the snow. Given it only snows a few days a year, and sometimes not at all in a year, and I am in my 30s, I may only have a month of snow days left. And that ignores climate breakdown. So, I didn’t want to miss them.

But running in snow is slippy when all you have is a pair of road shoes. As is running on the trail which I have traditionally limited to summer. So, I have finally given in and bought a pair of trail shoes. I tried the Hoka Speedgoat 4 as these match my Clifton 6s, but there was not enough height in the toe box for my giant toes, so I had to switch to the Torrent. Less cushioning but otherwise very nice.

While it is a little annoying to go through a puddle the first time, my feet did stay relatively warm at six degrees Celcius. And because of how miserable the weather was, I literally had Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve to myself.

Kirkstall Abbey 7

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 | Sport

Kirkstall Abbey 7 is a trail race staged by Kirkstall Harriers. It starts and ends at Kirstall Abbey, taking in some of the canal towpath, River Aire and surrounding countryside.

Despite the rain, I was reasonably cheery as I went over the start line. I tried to take it easy as I was still recovering from food poisoning, and had already done a hard weekend at Parkrun, but still managed to bring it home in 1:04:55, five minutes ahead of schedule.

The scenery was really nice. Some parts of the race could have done with trail shoes. However, given how much was on hard surfaces, I’m not sure they would have been pleasant to run in for most of the race.

Kirkstall Harriers did an excellent job of organising it with plenty of marshalls, a water station, chip timings and a goodie bag with a much-needed chocolate biscuit in. Plus a bottle of beer.