The Hawkshead Trail Race is where running started for me, three years ago I casually said I would do it as part of a work fund raising event. Ever since it has remained a consistent fixture in my running calendar and this year would be my 4th entry.
For those of you not familiar with these events they are both well organised and supported in a beautiful part of the country and well recommended if you want to run off-road.
This was the first year that I would run in a harrier’s vest so there was added pressure which was added to by illness in March and April that hampered my training. Graham PB Millington had also entered the entire Lakeland Trail Series in the challenge events. Dave “Go off steady” Collins had chided Graham about the shame of running amongst “walkers with sticks” which had been enough to persuade Graham to upgrade his entry to the blue riband trail race. My illness had prompted thoughts in Graham’s mind of Harriers glory and he referred to it as the “Harriers smack down” – seemed a bit of an overkill but it sounded
The weather in the Lake District during the week before was terrible and prompted a wet weather parking arrangement so Graham and I thought we might need waders to get around the course however in the 48 hours beforehand conditions dried up and we had perfect conditions on race day.
Graham and I met up in time for a chat and watch the challenge runners go off. I then went for a lengthy warm up and recce of the revised start/finish.
Come 2pm we set off in beautiful sunshine and within a mile climbing the first 150m hill. Knowledge of the course means you know the burning lungs are temporary but oxygen going up those hills would help. After the first climb the route settles in a section of beautiful undulating trail including sections of rocky ground where accurate foot placement is essential to preserve ankles.
I focussed on trying to gradually pick off the runners ahead of me, slowly making my way through the field. After about 6 miles the course follows the edge of Windermere which you would think would be the easier part of the course. After all the ups and downs, a mile on the flat trying to knock out a decent pace is hard!
At mile 7 the notorious coffin trail kicks in, a steep slog which finishes off the legs. Every year I aim to run the full length but I usually succumb to some power walking and this year was no different, I covered this mile in 12 minutes, so hard work!From the top it’s downhill all the way – yippee! I struggled with cramping calves on the run in and lost a few places but just about managed to keep 7 min mile pace going. The finish of these races is the closest any of us mere mortals will feel to being in a major race, there is music, a good PA, crowds, clapping and cheering!
Finish time 1.20, beat my previous best by 5.15. 33rd place and 11th V40 11th. A blooming hard run but good prep for my trail marathon in July. Thankfully Graham pulled his finger out, having a storming Hawkshead debut and was only 6 minutes behind so the small team put on a decent show for the Harriers.