Yesterday saw the first ever Karrimor Great Trail Challenge. There were three distances to choose from; 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon. I chose the Half Marathon because I knew that it was a challenging but achievable distance.
We arrived at the event site at about 9am and it was already a quagmire! There was a really good atmosphere about the whole event and plenty of food vans to keep the better half and the girls happy. There was even a climbing wall!
At 9:45 we watched the start of the home nations elite race. The speed of these guys is incredible and very inspiring. The marathon kicked off at 10am and then it was a case of making several trips to the toilet before assembling at the start.
The race kicked off at 10:30 and we did a lap of the event field before leaving the site and heading off into the fells.
This was the route we followed. As is evident, there were some pretty tough hills! I felt pretty good during the first loop of the course although I definitely need more hill training as I struggled with some of the hills – especially the behemoth at mile 5!! To be fair, I didn’t see a single person run up it so I don’t feel too bad about that!
After tackling that hill it was pretty much downhill to the event site ready to start the short loop of the course. It was great passing through the starting area as I got to see my family cheering me on and it’s just the boost that was needed after a tough first 8 miles.
The shorter loop followed the same route as the long loop for 2 miles before veering off up a monster hill on the shoulder of Latrigg. My calves were really tightening at this point but I got some encouragement from the leading marathon runner as he passed me (by this point he’d already done 2 loops of the long course!!).
I just kept thinking that this was the last hill and once I reached the top it’d be downhill to the finish. Reaching the top felt great and I just let go on the downhill, trusting the grip on my Salomon’s to stop me from going head over heels. The last little uphill to the finishing area was arduous. Although only a small incline, every muscle hurt and I was really struggling to move one foot in front of the other.
Finally, I turned into the quagmire that was the finishing area and found some extra energy to finish strongly. Seeing my lovely partner and girls cheering me on towards the line never fails to give me that little extra energy needed to kick through to the finish. I crossed the line in 2hours 24 minutes and 36 seconds. I was so pleased to have dipped under the 2:30 target that I’d set myself.
The supportive guy at the finish took my timing chip off for me, thankfully, as I didn’t have the strength needed to bend down and take it off. Then I was given my goody bag and medal and reunited with the family.
This was the toughest, hilliest half that I have ever done but I loved every minute of it. The views at the top of the climb were breathtaking and that’s a huge incentive to conquer these climbs.
This was the first time that I’ve tried energy gels and they really helped. I used High5 Energy gels at Mile 4 and Mile 9. Now I know that they help and don’t cause unwanted side effects, I will probably take on 3 gels during a half.
Link to official photos (and video!!) from the run (from Marathon-photos.com)
The girls had a go on the climbing wall. They were both very good, particularly Shannon who managed to get very near the top! Impressive!