Following a night time run when I attempted to make it up the Brown Clee in my road trainers I decided to invest in some trail shoes, I decided on the cheapest know brand available in case I found that running in the mud really wasn’t for me, and then set about finding some races to enter. My first race was Mad Jacks 5 in Attingham Park. This was a fantastic race through the park and only 5 miles, so a nice introduction to running off road. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery throughout and I was thrilled to see a deer with huge horns part way round the run, I find scenery is very important when I’m trying to distract myself from the actual running! In truth I didn’t really need to much distracting as this was a really enjoyable run, it’s nice and flat and climbing over styles and through the pond at the end offer a couple of mini breaks throughout the race. Although the water was ridiculously cold and my legs slightly forgot how to work as I climbed out the other side, luckily the finish line was nearby and overall I didn’t do as badly as I thought I might. I decided that perhaps off road was something I should do more of in the future. This race is definitely on the list for next year.
My second adventure was Mortimer trail race. This was supposed to be an 8M race which I knew would not be flat. In reality it was pretty much 9M and it REALLY WASN’T flat. In the run up to this race I had resigned myself to the fact that there was a very real possibility that I would come last and it was better to accept it early, I set myself a goal to get around in under 2 hours and be happy with that. Arriving on the day I was slightly terrified but as usual everyone from BRC was really supportive and the lovely Natalie said we could run together which was a huge help.
My most recent and easily most off road was the Shropshire Cross Country Championships at Lilleshall. BRC entered a team which consisted of 16 members – a great showing for our first cross country club event. On arriving my feet were instantly wet and muddy simply from approaching the course, this concerned me slightly as it was more like running through bog than simply being off road. The under 15’s were coming off the course shivering and caked in mud and these were kids who train for this kind of thing, how would I ever survive?!? I then checked the route. ‘Hooray it was only 4M I can do this!’ quickly followed by, ‘BOO it’s laps I hate laps!!’ Worryingly followed by ‘What do you mean the men’s race starts at 2:30? Does this mean I’m expected to finish in 30mins? That’s NEVER going to happen!’ Luckily I didn’t have to finish in 30 minutes. I started worryingly close to the front and far too fast. I did manage to keep going through ridiculous amounts of mud and slowly started to count down the laps. I very soon realised that there was no point trying to avoid the muddy parts because all of the parts were muddy and the best thing to do was just accept it and go straight through the boggy puddles. The smallest incline felt like climbing a mountain and I found it hard going the whole way around. This wasn’t really a race that I enjoyed but being part of a team was fantastic. Everyone cheered each other on the men motivated us until their race started and we cheered to keep them going once we had finished. Sam also did a fantastic job of feeding me hot chocolate to help me forget the pain at the end. I’m really not sure about this one for next year, the team spirit was fantastic but I don’t think I really enjoyed the race, but perhaps by next year the pain will have dulled and I’ll be ready to face it again.
Overall I’m really enjoying my off road adventures. I really like the scenery, I like that I don’t feel the pressure in the same way as you do in a road race and I like that it seems like I’m punishing my body less. Although that said I’m still happy to mix it up with a road race here and there.