Nailing the Trail- Trailscape 4th and Final Race
Wendover in Buckinghamshire was the location for the Rail to Trail – West run; the fourth and final in the series, and my 3rd. The Trailscape series has been plagued by injuries to our flyers and this last race coincided with Hylands, so for most it was no contest. Hylands won. However, Hylands will not allowed Rafa to run with his basket muzzle, so off to Buckinghamshire we went.
It was a very simple drive down the M25 to get to this race which was advertised as a fantastic end to the series where you get to enjoy the best of what the Chilterns have to offer. A stone’s throw from the end of the tube line and you’re in the middle of the Chiltern Hills! During this race we encountered some ‘hilly parts’ but these made for breath-taking views. Word of warning though- Parking- the bane of my life. Opted for £4 all day at the train station to avoid narrow country roads!
The race actually had to start from a slightly different to planned point because it was ‘too muddy’ (this gave me false hope that the route would be less muddy). As per dog running rules, Rafa and I started at the back, but it started on the road- and despite wearing trail shoes we were making good time up the first tarmac hill. But then we hit mud. Glorious mud! It was up to Rafas belly and my shoes were so heavy, but I was making great time- could this be a trail10K PB? It will definitely go down in history as my muddiest race to date!
Just after the check in point I encountered a little gate and picket fence with a sign ‘Coombe Hill’ which made me smile thinking of the lovely Andy and Samantha. At that point I could hear Samantha in my ear shouting to ‘carry on! you’ve still got plenty in your legs!!’. Beyond the picket fence was a little downhill part, followed by a venture through a forest and then I hit the big hills- but wonderful views of the Chilterns and Aylesbury Vale greeted me. A fellow runner had time for a selfie with a spectator. I’m glad I didn’t because I would have had quite a lot to say to this man and would have been my longest trail ever! I would have also been tempted to set Rafa on him for my lack of a pay rise in recent years. Yes, you’ve guessed it- David Cameron was at the race. I didn’t realised that part of the land we ran through was the Chequers country estate, and Dave was enjoying a restful weekend there.
During the race, I stopped for a drink and some jelly rings. Tied my shoelaces twice. Rafs stopped for a toilet break and I took the opportunity to get my camera out for the view of the Chilterns. So I was surprised when I looked down at my watch at about 5 miles and realised I was, unless there was a particularly horrendous hill round the corner, about to take considerable time off my trail PB.
I clocked in at 1hour 16 minutes which is 19 minutes quicker than I did the Hadleigh 10k. Also, checking the elevation, there was an extra 100ft gain at Wendover compared to Hadleigh. Which makes me think that a combination of running with my buddy and improving fitness contributed to the success of the day.
When I came home, I did a bit of research about Coombe Hill. Apparently, Coombe Hill has its own race! A 6km running race organised by the Vale of Aylesbury Athletic Club which includes the 190m of climbing up to the monument on Coombe Hill (which I saw!). Apparently, the Coombe Hill Run is a rare example of a fell race in southern Britain. First held in 1973, and now held on the first Sunday in June, it attracts more than 200 runners. Wonder if it is Dog Friendly?!
But back to Trailscape- I really recommend the series for those of you that love the trails and spectacular views and a really relaxed atmosphere. If you book all 4 you get a discount- they have already released the 2015/16 series dates.
The conclusion of the 2014/15 series was that it had been a tremendous success for the Flyers and the Tailrunner. Amanda flew the flag in Essex with Diesel first dog home, then Josanne, Emily and Myself in Kent, Josanne smashed it as winner of Ashurst and I flew the flag solo at Bucks.
On the way Rafa and I got 3 medals each, and 3 goodie bags each. Rafas included Lilys Kitchen Dog treats, and mine included 3 t-shirts! I managed to get an orange, a black and a white t-shirt. Gutted I didn’t do all 4 races though- as then you get a special ‘I nailed the trail’ t-shirt.
Next time for me, I’ll do 2 x 10K’s, a half and a full. Then I truly will ‘Nail the Trail’!