Wednesday the 21st May 2014 saw the running of the inaugural Carlisle City Urban Trail Race organised by Sport in Action. There were two distances to choose from; a long course of 8 miles and a shorter course of 5 miles. The race promised a route which showed off the trails that are easily accessible from the city centre.
I arrived at the Sands Centre with my support crew, the long suffering other half and my girls, and quickly registered. It was a particularly warm evening and I was regretting the fact that I’d been coerced (guilt-tripped) into changing my entry from the short course to the long course. I struggle to run in the heat. To be fair, once the thermometer creeps over 10°C, I find things tough!
We met up with Ali who had also entered the long course and we wandered over to the cathedral which is where the race was due to start. As time ticked on, runners started to gather near the formidable building and it wasn’t long before we were being called to the start.
After a quick briefing, we were off along Fisher Street then Finkle Street before heading up the steps of the Millennium Bridge. I’m glad this appeared early in the route as it was tough! We then did a lap of the castle. High above the road below, I made sure to keep on the inside of the path! There was no escape from the heat but the marshals were really supportive and made it that bit easier to keep going. Just before the Sheepmount, those doing the shorter course peeled off and, with some regret, I turned left to carry on the longer course. It was good running round the football pitches as the ground was so dry and the grass had been recently cut.
It was then on to the riverside path and it wasn’t long before we met the speedy runners on their way back. It felt like an age before I reached the turning point but I enjoyed the riverside trail, familiar from all those runs I’ve done along there with the Tri Club.
We then headed past the sands and alongside the golf course. My legs were starting to feel tired but I had some targets in front of me and my legs kept turning. Heading into Rickerby park I was really starting to suffer with the heat. The route was generally good going but I had to make a large detour from the path through long, cow pat saturated grass to avoid a herd of cows who were conveniently preventing me from running on the nice, short grass!
After that, my legs really did feel as if they were filled with lead. This feeling was only exaggerated by having to ascend near vertical steps out of the park. My calves screamed! It was with great relief that I headed on to Stanwix Bank and a lovely downhill followed. At the Sands Centre, we were directed down the ramp and into Bitts Park. this was a cruel twist as we could see the finish but were directed away from it!! The lap round Victoria Park seemed to last an eternity and my legs didn’t feel like they were attached to my body any more. Still, they kept on going and finally, finally the finish was in sight. I picked up the pace as much as my energy-sapped legs would allow and crossed the finish line. It was great to hear the encouragement from Tristan and the girls as I crossed that line.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable run; well organised with enthusiastic marshals and a medal to boot. Hopefully, this run will be back next year and I’d highly recommend giving it a go.