Hawkeshead trail race.
On the weekend of 27th April myself and Harry competed in the Hawkeshead trail race. Originally Harry had entered the 10k option but with some persuasion from me he changed his entry to the 17k trail race, the same as me. Dave Jardin, our own intrepid Elswick globetrotter had told us about this race some time ago; he also told us that the infamous “coffin trail” was no longer than 800m long so we felt somewhat reassured when we entered.
We duly booked into a campsite, deciding to stay from the Friday until Monday, and were delighted to find that it was literally about 200 metres from the start of the race. The site filled up quickly with other campers who had come for the race, and by the evening there was a very jolly atmosphere. People were lighting their BBQs and having a few drinks (obviously to calm the pre-race nerves!) there was banter and laughter by the bucket load.
Race day. Our race was the last of the day, at 2pm, so after a hearty breakfast we strolled along to collect our numbers and bumped into Jonny Bolton who was warming up for the 10k (sensible chap). Jonny looked cold and we had the usual discussion about the most appropriate clothing and footwear for the races. Jonny had decided to leave his trail racers at home and risk trainers, he later said this had been a big mistake. We wished Jonny luck and went back the 200m for coffee and toilets, returning in time to see the finishers come in and cheer Jonny in who was an excellent 6th overall and 1st veteran man. We did wonder about the severity of the course when the leader was over 45 minutes but we later found out that the course was actually over 7 miles long!
I was now starting to get nervous and excited; the usual feelings and asking myself what on earth I had let myself in for. As we lined up on the start line, to the beat of a large group of drummers we were told that there would be a few surprises on route, especially when climbing the coffin trail, which was ONLY a mile long!
I set off across the muddy field determined to pace myself, the first half a mile was on road but we soon turned to go up a very steep stony path which set the scene for much of the race. There were bits where we had to run through water, lots more steep stony paths and even some down hill stony paths! I found the down hill bits trickier than the up hills. I seemed to be surrounded by “proper fell runners” who were flying on the down bits with no thought for their safety, (which must be the right way to do it). We also ran through some lovely wooded areas, even some grassy bits and the best part for me was running round a lake along a lovely tree lined path, you could actually get up some speed there.
At mile seven we finally arrived at the coffin trail, which to be honest wasn’t that much steeper than most of what we had already covered, it just went on for longer. There were also cardboard coffins with messages on for us to read hanging from the trees and a full sized skeleton. At 8 miles we were told it was mostly down hill for the rest of the way. We still had to climb over a stony wall and then the sting in the tail was sending us through a muddy bog up to our knees with half a mile to go!
I am now on day three of my recovery and I am still struggling to walk down steps because my quads are so sore. Did I enjoy it? HELL YES. Would I do it all again? You bet I would, roll on the Keswick trail race.
Results, Jonny Bolton, 10k! 56.57, position 6th overall, first V40. Harry Matthews 1.30.40, 6th V60. Kim Matthews 1.42.36, 4th W50