Saturday 28th January 2017 found me, along with a large contingent of my club mates turn up at the Dalby Forest visitors centre in preparation for a 5 mile run, in the dark, in the mud, through Dalby Forest…
I had mixed feelings about this run, I knew it would be hilly and muddy therefore hard work. As I’ve been finding running generally very hard work recently I was expected this to be very tough!
A forty minute drive and we arrived nice and early (hate being late) so plenty of time to get registered and site and have a drink and a chat with mates. There were lots of people I knew at this run (nearly 600 runners in total), and it still strikes me what a difference this is from the first races I did when I hardly knew anyone at all. My other half treated me to a No Ego long sleeved running top (worn for the first time yesterday and it was great – I would recommend one if you get the chance) and before long we were on to the final loo stop and then time to get our jumpers off, head torches on and make our way to the start.
I was approaching this race in a different way to any I’ve run before. I was preparing to walk some of the course. Although I have walked on some other races, it always seems to feel like I’m not pushing enough, but this one I’d been warned that there are areas where it is impossible to run.
The first few hundred meters are on tarmac and then a right turn to immediately climb up a hill on a narrow forest track. Now I LOVE trail running (have I said that before…) and straight away felt at home. It was steep, and due to the sheer number of people we had to walk part of it, but I felt like I was managing to find some kind of rhythm.
It was really hard to look about you, even at the people very close because you were so focused on the short distance in front of your feet to try and make sure you didn’t trip. The few glances I did get of a row of head torches heading up the hill were fab.
The race was 5 miles long and pretty crowded tracks for the first couple of miles and then it really started to thin out and you had a bit more space. Here is the elevation chart:
How come when you start and finish in the same place there seems to be an awful more uphill than down ?!
I feel very comfortable off road and even I nearly went over on my ankle a couple of times and definitely need to learn to pick up my feet more judging by the amount of tree roots that I nearly tripped on. The mud was very thick in places and there was lots of slipping and sliding. All that adds up to lots of fun but I was grateful for the new trail shoes that I bought a week or so ago.
I don’t know why so many people seem to have such a problem running downhill though. There were some that seemed to go slower down than up!
The last mile or so was mainly downhill and I really felt like I was getting into my stride and pushed for home, very happy to come through the finishing arch in chip time of 57:04.
I was really pleased when looking back at my splits on Garmin that I’d managed negative splits! Taking that as a result.
And to finish of a great evening our club went to a local pub (The Black Bull Inn) for something to eat afterwards. Great food, great company – a perfect Saturday night.
Would I do this race again? Yes !
Best bit? Running through the middle of the biggest puddle whilst everyone else was going around the edges 😉