Since recovering from ME, some of my running could be described as ‘off road aloneing’. When I get the chance, which is about once every few weeks, I jump into my car and drive to a wild remote place in the countryside. I run for 2-3 hours on a route of my choice, at a pace that suits me. Then I return to ‘Tamsin’s mobile teashop’ (my car) which is decked out with Yorkshire teabags, a proper solid mug, carton of milk, flask of hot water and slabs of cake for a post-run tea and cake before returning to civilisation. Having done that for a while, arriving at Thrunton Woods for the Thrunton Thriller trail race, it felt strange that there were other people there. But I like people, so that was ok. The other different thing was that I didn’t need to map read. Sometimes it’s nice to run on someone else’s route as you can just focus on and enjoy the running and having seen the route, I was looking forward to a full tour of Thrunton Woods. And what a beautiful, unspoilt place it is, having been closed to the public for so long!
It was a friendly bunch of runners that waited at the start. They were mostly local, but a few had come all the way from Scotland. The start-line marshal wished us well. He pondered about the distance, but after some thought concluded he had no idea other than it was more than a half marathon and said good luck anyhow. He also noted that the local farmer was upset as he had just this morning lost his albino peacock and if we saw it whilst on the run could we ‘hoy it under our arm and run on down to the farm?’ We got a count down from 5 from his cute kids and then were off, running up a long hill through tall conifers with the sun on our shoulders. So nice to feel the sun after the weather of last week!
Soon after the start I was running in stride with another runner, chatting, when a loud buzzing thing zoomed just above us! Last week, I was zoomed at by some anxious nesting
lapwings on Cronkley fell in Upper Teesdale, but this was a bit different. It was a drone. They had told us earlier they were filming with a drone, I just had not realised it would be that low to the ground!
The course was spectacular. It wandered through the hilly forest, but we also got to climb up Coe Craggs which rise above a sea of tree tops. There were some quite boggy, heathery and clearly untrodden ways which we squelched through. I enjoyed running at my own pace. I wanted to try, as it was a race, so ran comfortably hard.
Barry Kemp was marshalling at one spot. He is the race organiser. I knew it was him before I saw him as I heard his music. Last time I saw him he had got his ghetto blaster to the top of Hedgehope Hill in the Cheviots, in January. He was there standing proud to the full onslaught of freezing cold 70mph gusting winds. I salute him for this. This time I passed him at a tranquil bend in a forest path. He said I was 3rd lady. Better than that, I have been feeling stronger in my running recently and felt fresh today. This was heartening. Previously, by being ill for 12 months, I had lost all my fitness. So much so that I remember a few weeks into recovery I had pulled a muscle under my ribs by just trying to carry a shopping bag! I ran past Barry.
Soon after a lady caught me up. We ran together for a few miles. Then the sun really came out and I felt too hot in my long leggings. I pondered, should I give up the possibility of a podium finish by stopping to change into my shorts? Today it was a yes. I stopped and let her go, fumbled with unlacing my trainers and took time to appreciate the view. Unfortunately, a full tipping out my rucksack onto the ground revealed I had left my shorts in the car. But, no bother. I turned my long-sleeved top into a skirt as the head-hole fitted round my waist with the top zip undone, and the sleeves acted as a belt when tied up. I pinned my race number on the front of the skirt. Job done.
The route rounded off with an awesome 3-mile downhill section which is brilliant to power down. (I had the voice of Michael in my head, ‘attack!’). There was then just one more up and down a thin rocky path to the finish. I would recommend this race for exploring unvisited corners, friendly people and good cake. (The chocolate-strawberry cake easily scores a 10/10). As for distance, (in case you are considering this race) others had worn a Garmin and measured it to be 15 miles and 2, 224ft of ascent.
|1||6||Jonathan Boxshall||02:02:05.2||MV40||North East Marathon Club|
|15||18||Alicja Czopek||02:40:33.8||FV40||BMF Edinburgh|
|20||34||Tamsin Imber||02:50:51.4||FV40||Elvet Striders|