I’m part of a running club in Durham called the Elvet Striders, which is a huge club that meets every Monday and Wednesday. And sometimes in between. And often in the pub. This week, a few of our more enterprising members organised a trail race called the Clamber. It was a regular in the Striders calendar until a hiatus last year. This year it was back with a vengeance, and a new-improved-just-over-5-mile route.
I signed up as I’ve not done any trail races this year, and I probably won’t be able to get to any more til next year. If you are wondering why trail running is the bees knees, here are the top three reasons:
- You are fully immersed in the countryside and get some uh-ma-zing views
- You don’t have to worry about being hit by a car. On the other hand, you do have to worry about tripping over a tree-root
- Muscles that have been asleep since the day you were born are suddenly put into action, much to their chagrin
Here is my favourite view from a trail run (or at least a trail run where I happened to have my camera):
So, back to the Clamber. I arrived with about a minute to spare to pick up my number. I was kind of chilled about this race – in my mind it was just like a typical Wednesday run. Until I put my number on and saw everyone else: then my determination kicked in, and I realised that I was going to push with everything I had.
It was a challenge to pace: I didn’t know the route, and my race-day-zone only started 10 minutes before the race started. To be honest, I can’t give an accurate route description, but here’s my best effort: we went up some hills in the woods, down some hills in a field, steadily up some hills in the wilderness (what do you call it if it’s not a field?), steadily down some hills in a field, up some hills in the woods, down them again, and then there’s the finish. Can you picture it? 😉
As we passed the marshals, they told me what position female I was in – if I didn’t have my game face on before, I certainly did then! My strength was in running up the hills: I could power up them, and that where I did most of my over-taking (although my over-taking was pretty modest). On the
flats less brutal hills, I really felt the effort of keeping my pace, and needed to really suck it up mentally. As I felt more tired, my footing wasn’t as confident which in turn required more concentration. It was a tough race.
For the last three miles I had another girl in my sights, and I made it my goal to overtake her to take my mind off my legs, which were shocked at working this intensely. She was always about 300 metres ahead: I’d see her just up ahead, and then we’d turn a corner and she’d taken off. I’d see her walking up a hill, but by the time I ran to the top, she’d taken off (I’m terrified of running downhill, so I reckon I lost some time there).
Once I knew there were no more hills, and there was about a mile left, I found the energy to really sprint. You know in cartoons when you see their legs pinwheel into a blur? That’s what my legs always feel like at the end – they’re so tired and light, but it feels like they’re at their most powerful. I feel like I’m flying.
But enough indulgent contemplation on the sprint. I finished in 42:24. And did I catch the girl in front? No. But I did finish 4th female overall, and 2nd female in our club, so I’m mighty pleased with that.
I want to say a huge thanks to Flip & his team for organising it – I really, really enjoyed running in a local race, and loved seeing the different local running groups. And it was a real treat to run a race where the marshals knew you and supported you with genuine enthusiasm. Elvet Striders – where everybody knows your name.