Monday, February 11, 2013

Hell in the Middle

Yesterday, Saturday 10th, despite feeling a bit under the weather, I turned up at the Trentham Estate near Stoke to run in the extreme trail event called Hell in the Middle. I have run a number of these events before in the Autumn in the lovely Delamere Forest, but this was a new venue for me; and a new time of year, there were more than a few flakes of snow falling from the grey skies as we approached the venue.
The event set-up was great with car-parking close to the start along with a good selection of cafes nearby for that essential post-race refreshment.
After only a short delay the first wave crossed the start line at ten minutes past ten. The initial route zigzagged across a grassy field, luckily it had stopped raining, but the ground was very soft. After only ten minutes we had to cross an icy-cold river; the water was easily chest-height in places. I thought I would freeze following that early dip, but my technical running gear dried out after a few miles; I pitied the poor runners in heavy fancy dress. The first of many steep climbs loomed and there was snow and hail on the ground. Every steep climb was followed by a body-jarring fast and steep descent over mud, bracken, through trees and at one point down some very slippy wooden steps; there was no respite from the relentless inclines. The one patch of level running was even across a shallow lake before a hands-on scramble up another very steep hill.
I knew I was somewhere in the top dozen runners, and my position was constantly changing as I competed with fellow Hellrunners. Another crossing of the river meant we were only a mile or two from the finish. I managed to overtake another competitor as we raced back across the field; then another who struggled over a fallen tree in the woods. A final leap down a steep embankment, and I sprinted for the finish.
My watch had stopped working so I don't know my exact finish time. Trailplus estimated the distance at about 10 miles but that has yet to be verified, it felt more like 8 (very tough) miles. I calculated that I was in 9th position, but, even though the race was chipped, the organisers thought that I abandoned the race! I have emailed them and am waiting for a reply. Nevertheless, I was very pleased with my run and celebrated with a much-needed bacon roll and cup of hot coffee.

Muddy, wet, bloody, shattered - a happy runner!

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Llanberis Path

Survival of the Fittest

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