Report from John Davis:
I was first alerted to the existence of this run in 2012, and this is the fourth time I’ve run it, so it’s obviously something of a favourite – in fact, it’s probably one of my top three runs at all. It’s 10 miles of wildly varying terrain, starting in a small park and taking in, in order, bluebell woods, canal towpath, road running, the mighty Trooper Lane hill, moorland, farmland, more bluebell woods, more canal-side, a bit of riverside & then wading through the river and belting across a school field to the finish. It’s this variety, along with the fact that it’s damn hard, that makes it so appealing.
I met up with Sara Elliott, Victoria Stainburn and Debra Brown. Sara knows this race, as well, but it was new to Victoria and Debra. In fact, I might be partly responsible for Debra running it as she recalled my discussing it as a really fun race about a year ago. I hope Debra enjoyed the run; if not, I hope she forgives me. We also met up with Mohammad Abubakr, running for Aire Centre Pacers, and confidently calculating his finish time by adding “3-4 minutes” to his normal 10 mile run times. Sara and I pointed out you could lose that on the river crossing alone, and that’s before you account for Trooper Lane.
Trooper Lane. Aside from crossing the river, “The Trooper” is this race’s big “feature”. Imagine Jonny Lane, but probably more than twice as long, steeper in parts and cobbled for large portions. It’s a real test. The first time I did this, I attempted to run it. Big mistake. Unless you’re *very* good on hills, you burn much more energy and really mash your legs for very little saving in time, and you’ll pay for it later in the run. This time I walked, along with most other runners, until near the top, where the presence of a photographer encouraged us to break into a run. It was a very warm morning again, and there was a water station to look forward to at the top.
After the top of the climb and the water station, it’s a little dispiriting to find that you’re climbing again, onto the top of the moor. But then you have some rolling moorland to enjoy, before a very long, very steep and very slippy descent. Then more climb, more descent, and so on, for several more miles. Did I mention that this is a hard run?
This was my slowest Bluebell Trail yet. I could blame the heat, or my lack of preparedness, or the effects of Friday night drinking (the scars haven’t quite healed yet) but the plain fact is that it’s a hard run. So a fantastic achievement for Victoria for finishing 2nd female runner, and also to Sara for a very good time (though she doesn’t think so). Debra, too, just for finishing at all, but also in a very creditable time.
Victoria Stainburn – 1:25:33
Sara Elliott – 1:39:16
Me (John Davis) – 1:58:05
Debra Brown – 2:24:50
Mohammad Abubakr finished in 1:32:38, and re-evaluated his way of calculating good finishing times for this run; you don’t compare it to other 10 milers. “It’s very hard”.
If there’s a more fun and challenging race in the area, please tell me about it.