Saturday the 16th of March saw me competing in my 1st ever trail run, or cross country in old money.
Originally I signed up for the comfortable 10km race, but this was due to start at 10am in the morning, and the other half and a friend were running in the 18km race at 2pm. Neither were keen to get up at the crack of dawn and then hang around for 4 hours till they started – fair enough!
I had two choices, pull out (very tempting!) or change and go for the 18km challenge race. This had a time limit of 3.5hrs an hour longer than the proper race that started an hour later, which hubby & friend were doing. I procrastinated for a few days then thought I might as well go for it.
I have a half marathon planned for the 7th of April so this would be a good ‘warm up’!
The trail was organised by Lakeland Trails, and we were doing the 18km Cartmel Sticky Toffee Trail Challenge. Dubbed a ‘beauty and beast’ of a course – I was anxious!
I had only ever run a maximum of 9 miles and only on pavement. I didn’t even have proper trail shoes.
I decided that my Nike running shoes wouldn’t cut it, so decided to use my walking shoes. I have had my North Face Hedgehog GTX’s for a few years, never run in them but knew they were comfy, so they were my weapon of choice.
I also decided to buy myself some full length running leggings (still find it difficult to call them tights!) in preparation for the unknown, but at a good guess lots of MUD!
I bought my self some ASICS Fuji Tights. Classed as all weather trail performance I figured they would fit the bill. Find out later how they did.
So with my shoes and leg wear sorted I only had to worry about my top half.
I opted for an Adidas Supernova t-shirt, and a Nike dri-fit jacket (can’t find details on the jacket I wore – sorry!). I also had a Ronhill hat and gloves set as it was likely to be a bit ‘parky’!
I was ready, well equipment wise, only time would tell if I was ready physically & mentally.
The event was very well organised (except for the start time of the 10km race compared to the others).
Registration was on site, and the tent was a good spoiler to the condition of the course. You were given your very good technicals race t-shirt when you registered.
With my target of less than 2hrs 30mins I was ready.
Phew it was tough!
It was quite amazing how many of the trail runners avoided the puddles! Hang on wasn’t this supposed to be cross country, you will get wet! Come on!
My Map my run app didn’t work at the start of the race due to no GPS, so it wasn’t until mile 4 ( at the stile) that I found out how far we had gone and what my time was – there was a queue we all had a chat! It had taken me 51 mins to go 4 miles so I knew this was going to be tough. I managed to get my GPS working in the middle of nowhere – random, so my friendly lady was now shouting at me every mile, telling me how slow I was going.
I was only really expecting 1 major hill (as you don’t get to see the course before hand there is a lot of guesswork), there were loads! Some I jogged up, some I plodded up, others I just walked.
The course was not called sticky toffee for nothing, there was so much mud! I think I took most of it home with me on my shoes and legs.
Gosh it was tough!
I really enjoyed the downhill bits.
Did I mention the mud? It was so slippery at times, but I managed to stay upright all the way round, which was an achievement in itself.
The course started to be marked for distance at 12km, when I got to 13km I was feeling optimistic, as that was only 30 odd mins (in road running time) left. Yeah that wasn’t realistic thinking.
At 3/4 of a mile from the end they decide to photograph you, and MAKE you run through a massive puddle – bastards!
He took a few!
The last mile took me around 20mins as you had to run uphill then down through a forest which was tough after running 10miles.
But you could hear the music from the finish so this spurred me on. By this point I had been overtaken by at least 25 of the later race runners, and I was worried about being overtaken by my husband, as I knew he would try to hunt me down, so I battled on.
The end was a welcome sight as my back was killing. I finished in a very respectable time of 2hrs 27mins. I was exhausted, I was muddy, I had very wet feet but I hadn’t been overtaken by husband, but he was only 20mins behind me, and very surprised that he didn’t find me walking, as even he found it tough, despite finishing in 1hr 48mins.
Our friend came in 10 mins later, back in pieces but pleased to have completed it.
How did my equipment hold up? My ASICS tights were fab, they had a waterproof part to the bottom of the legs, which kept me dry, they were very comfortable, and kept my muscles nice and warm. They had nice venting so I didn’t feel over warm at any point.
My North Face hedgehogs did an ace job of keeping me up right. No blisters and all my toenails survived!
My Adidas top was a small, but as you can see from my photos was too big really around the neck. It was however very comfortable and regulated my temperature well.
Would I do a Lakeland trail again? YES. It was tough, no doubt, but it was amazing.
Hawkshead is next in April, bring it on!