Wednesday, November 7, 2012


For the past few years the good people at Trailplus have organised extreme trail running events at Delamere Forest in Cheshire and named them, with some justification, Hellrunner!
Unfortunately for the two weeks leading up to this race last Saturday I had been suffering from a bad dose of manflu and hadn't done any real training since the Liverpool Marathon. Being a typical runner I was undeterred and turned up at a cold Delamere thinking that if I felt rough I could easily drop out and walk back to my car.
Over 2000 hardy souls lined up at the start and were entertained by a fabulous drum band, until the devil appeared (really!) and the race got under way. The first mile is uphill to the radio masts before a return through the start area before the hordes enter the forest proper. What follows has to be experienced to be believed; quality trail running along narrow tracks, up and down near-vertical hills, through freezing streams and interminable mud. There was even a disco situated near the first waist-deep bog.
Despite growing fatigue and cold, all this was familiar territory to experienced Hellrunners who have completed this 11ish mile course before. But the cunning guys at Trailplus played a blinder by changing the course at about 10 miles and directing the runners through Lucifer's Lake! This new obstacle was a pool of freezing water of undetermined length; I have heard estimates of between 200 metres and half a mile, I suppose it depends how long you were in it for. The bottom of this icy obstacle was unseen and uneven, runners were reduced to hanging on to small trees as they sank to their shoulders as they struggled to cross to the other side. With no feeling from the waist down I clambered up the far side and continued running.
A few miles further on the final trial, the Bog of Doom, held no fear after the death cold iciness of the Lake.
Large crowds of supporters gather here to cheer on their friends and to witness the spectacle of thousands of crazed runners ploughing through the mud.
A final run around the start area and a sprint to the end saw me finish in 56th place in a respectable time of 1 hour and 48 mins. After a hosing down by the local fire brigade (I told you runners are crazy!) I got changed and shared some very welcome mugs of coffee and bacon rolls with my friend Jane.

In the Bog of Doom
Photo courtesy of RandR Photos

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Liverpool Marathon
Sandstone Trail

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