Willow Miner Trail Race

Houghall and Low Burnhall Woods, Durham, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

5.3 miles

Kev Morson

I joined the striders in May, having being on the lookout for a running club for a little while but not having plucked up the courage to do so, so if I haven’t met you yet, hello! The Willow Miner hasn’t been far away from conversation since I joined the club. On the last bank holiday in May I did a recce of it on a ‘Captains Special’ run and made my usual excuses afterwards that trail wasn’t for me, uneven ground is tricky etc.

Having said that, training on trail routes had been progressing reasonably well so I took the plunge and signed up, knowing this would be my first event in striders colours. I am certainly not at the top end of the club in terms of pace but I was determined I was going to maintain a reasonable level of pride in the performance I put in.

Last week another recce of the route was to follow (thanks to Malcolm for giving up his time for this) and I found I had gained some confidence from the first time I had attempted it. Onto race day, I had persuaded a friend (who isn’t currently a strider, maybe one day) to attempt the race as well. He has had a pretty severe knee injury and hasn’t run a lot of late but he is always game for a challenge. Following the opening messages involving a lot of thank yous to get the race on (more on that later) we were good to go.

As is often the case at the beginning of the race, the first part was quite frantic, settling down around about a mile in. This is where my next thank you is owed, I ran the rest of the race from this point with Louise, a fellow strider, who was an absolute superstar.

She was a superb pacemaker through the middle of the race and then I took up the role for the last 2km or so. She kept me on point excellently and I wouldn’t have managed the time that I did without her. Finishing time officially for me was 50.02, work to do on that but I had set myself a target of 50 minutes so the aim for next year will have to be 45 minutes! My injury prone friend managed 57 minutes without any reoccurrence of his injuries so that’s a positive to build on also!

To Jonathan and all of the volunteers who marked out the course and marshalled to make the event possible I must say thank you, you were excellent and kept me going! It was very professionally done and at no point did I think I was going to get lost.

To the striders who showed up to offer support who weren’t involved, thank you to you too, its that sort of support that makes this club what it is (even including the photographers who always catch me looking fresh!) The mood at the finish was excellent with the buzz of all of the different clubs involved, many of whom I spoke to were very complimentary about the event and our club as a whole, which is excellent to hear. Finally well done to our speedsters and to each and every strider who finished the course, in humid conditions all efforts were impressive!

Final thought from me is with regards to the club and how welcoming it has been in the short time I have been a member. If you are considering joining a running club I couldn’t recommend this one highly enough. There are runs available for all abilities on a weekly basis and I have improved both speed and endurance a lot in my short time with the club, with lots of further room for improvement.

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