Race report by Nina Jensen:
The blurb said this was a tough trail run, no constructed obstacles but plenty multi terrain obstacles like fallen trees, mud water and hills to keep the heart pumping. A good mix of fire roads, mud bogs, forest trail etc in a part of the army training area at Otterburn.
I liked the sound of it and having done a few trail races and cross country I signed up for the 10 miler whilst my friend signed up for the 10k.
After a briefing session by the organiser the race started promptly at 10.40 and started on a downhill section on the road which I used to get into a position where I wasn’t going to trip over another runner. A small sign pointed off to the right and across a grassy area which leg to a muddy bog and stream, so a couple of minutes in to the run and I was already mud splashed and had soggy feet. One of the guys up ahead stopped to retrieve his shoes from a very muddy bit which thankfully highlighted this for those behind him.
The route continued in this vein with mud, lumpy grass through woods(which are extremely difficult to run through and are the cause of a few bruises as I tripped and stumbled through), streams and the occasional fire road.
As there weren’t many runners doing the race, this meant than sometimes you would be running on your own for sections, which although enjoyable, was also unnerving as some of the route markers could be easily missed. When you did spot a route marker you also needed to try and plot a route through to the next one as often the direct route would lead through a difficult section or a muddy bit, whereas you could take a slightly longer path to avoid that. (Maybe I need some orienteering training – Alasdair?)
Even the water stations involved some navigation, the section one was got to by jumping over fallen trees and brush which seemed to almost grab at your legs and shoes.
I started to employ a tactic of running when I could and then walking where the terrain was uneven, steep or particularly muddy. So on the gravelly fire roads I was able to get up to a reasonable pace and caught up with some fellow runners on a long downhill section. However they then overtook me on a particularly steep uphill section where I thought my lungs were going to burst when I tried to run. My calves screamed, my ankles grumbled and my hamstrings strained as I pushed on trying to catch back up (I didn’t!).
The last mile or so, where we re-joined with the 10k route involved a sweeping downhill stretch where I thought I had a decent path picked out, until I ran into a muddy bog, then across a clumpy section which was difficult to navigate on tired legs (yes I fell over) before coming out onto the road again. Just one little hill to tackle then the finish line to get my finishers t – shirt.
I lost count of the times I had to stop to re – attach my shoes to my feet and I think I spent quite a lot of the race swearing in my head (and one section in the last mile, out loud when I face planted into a very springy bit of grass – apologies to Elizabeth’s daughter if she heard me as she was running just ahead!) but I still finished with a smile (or was that a grimace) on my face!
This event was really well organised, well marshalled and offered a challenge. I’ll definitely be back next year for more, well if my shoes have dried out by then!