Beacon Solstice Run 2015

I’ve never done a trail run before, so when I came across the Beacon Solstice Run it interested me. At the point I entered this though I had no other races planned for June – it was much later I decided to do the Two Castles Run and the Rothley 10K in the same week.

For the Two Castles Run it had been a warm morning and I’d twisted my ankle just over half way into the race. I’d been fortunate and this had healed enough by the time of the Rothley 10K race, but again it was hot and humid. This time though my legs were tired, and for both races I walked some of the way, in the case of the latter though I walked quite a bit.

This being a trail run I had no preconception of how this race would go – I had no idea what pace I’d be able to manage it at so had no target other than to complete the race without walking. As I’d walked some of the way in the past 4 races it felt like it was a worthwhile target to set regardless. I hoped that having done a short and slow recovery run the day after the Rothley 10K will have helped some as well.

By the time of the race though I was hungry as once again I’d not actually eaten before heading out. I parked up in the upper car park and spent the next 15 minutes walking along the trail to the start which was in the lower car park. Apparently this was only supposed to be a 10 minute, but considering I was walking at a 14min/mile pace I’m not sure why the organisers thought that. Unless the 10 minutes was just a way of saying it’s a reasonably short walk. It did mean though that I got to see a bit of the course ahead of running it and it gave me an idea of what the surface would be like, and the gradients for some of the hills.

At the registration tent I was surprised to get #1 – I’ve never been the first to register for a race before, and when I registered for this one I assumed entries had been open for quite a while. Comments I got from people was of an expectation that I’d be fast – something which you shouldn’t assume from a race number! Besides, time is relative – Einstein proved that. I knew they were joking, but it did feel like some pressure came with it.

It was getting a little cold standing around with nothing to keep me busy, but after a while someone saw me wearing my blue #UKRunChat tee and came over to say “hi” – it turned out it was @VirtualRunnerUK. It was nice to meet someone else, and it just happened to be the person that runs the virtual run I’d entered a while back.

This event was a bit mixed – at 19:15 the Canicross trail running event started (people running with dogs) and 10 minutes later we set off behind them. To start with the route seemed relative flat, though I think there was a slight incline – eventually though it changed to be a long slow climb up to the top of Beacon Hill before we started to descend again. The descent was long and I found myself going far faster than I’d intended, but I was struggling to slow my legs down once I’d got going. Eventually the trail flattened out as it got deeper into the woodland and I was able to slow down to a pace I was happier with.

This eventually passed near the start again and then went along the trail I’d walked along earlier – this eventually became a long slow hill and I found myself having to walk twice – the one thing I didn’t want to do in this race. I was okay with it though – it was a hilly course and I was still doing better than I thought I would. For another mile I was then able to keep running, but I did walk one last time before running for the remainder. To keep myself going I convinced my mind that I was in a race with the person I could see in front so I made sure I kept the pace up for the entire last mile.

Eventually I overtook this runner and kept going, knowing I’d only got half a mile left to go – I should probably have slowed down at one point though as I reached a tight corner and almost ran straight into the hedgerow as I couldn’t slow down quick enough and was sliding across the ground trying to stop. I quickly got back up to pace though and on the next, final corner I managed to take this at a reasonable pace and then sprinted to the finish line.

I finished this race 20th out of a field of 249 finishers (top 8%, and 11th in my category), with a time of 35:29; so considering the course record at the time was 30:06 I don’t think I did too badly for my first trail run. Although I walked briefly it didn’t bother me as much as this was a difficult course, and I tried to keep the walking to the absolute minimum. The goodie bag was quite packed:

  • Finisher’s medal,
  • 2x large bags of crisps,
  • 2x 500ml bottles of water,
  • a rocky chocolate bar,
  • a bag of Haribo sweets

I think although it’s a very basic event it’s one I’m likely to try again in the future – I had enjoyed racing again.

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