Sunday, 4 May 2014

Bluebell 10m Trail run oh... And Trooper lane

Last week I completed the Huddersfield half marathon and thought you couldn't get a tougher run....oh how wrong I was, along came the Bluebell 10m trail run and Trooper lane.

I joined this run at a very late stage thanks to the lovely Pauline who unfortunately couldn't take part anymore and she kindly let me take her place. So I turned up early on Sunday morning to a very busy Heath Rugby Club and was greeted by friendly marshals directing cars to parking spaces close by. When I had parked and walked back to the Club I joined my fellow runners gathering in front of the club house after collecting numbers etc. I met up with Simon, Jo, Neil, Martin, Mark, Pauline, Ian, and many more familiar faces from parkrun and there was lots of sarcastic talk of why are we here can we go home please. It was all centred around the part of the route called Trooper lane which apparently was worse than the killer hill last week at the Huddersfield Marathon. I had heard Trooper lane being talked about for weeks now and was very curious now to find out what everyone was talking about. I was hoping that it was a bad as everyone had been talking about in a slightly sadistic way, plus at the finish there was a river crossing which sounded interesting too.

It was time to head to the start which was across the road in the grounds of Clay House and whilst we were waiting for the start I finally managed to meet Mr Ian Rutson (regularly talked about on the parkrun show, despite them not wanting to). Simon, Mark, HerWerMerNerBen (Ian R) and I were discussing our warm up routines which basically consisted of standing around which we all thought was fair enough. 

After a run brief we were set off and 450+ crazy people were charging round the field in excitement of the upcoming picturesque but devilish run. Running through the Clay house grounds was soon brought to a near standstill as 450 runners had to get through a gateway. Luckily there was a few friendly marshals to help and we were soon on our way again through the woods on a fairly solid woodland trail. I was running quite close to Simon and as I know he is a little faster than me I planned to try and keep with him as long as I could and as we left the woods and joined the canal I even passed him. He wasn't far behind me and that was good because I knew I was keeping a good pace. After what seemed forever we finally left the canal and were directed by yet more friendly marshals around a few bends and along a couple of roads. Until we hit an incline now as I had not done this run before and not knowing the area to well I thought this was the start of Trooper Lane so was almost contemplating walking even at this early stage. Happily I didn't give in to my doubts and kept going and at the corner where I thought we would turn and keep going up I was greeted by a flat road and a couple of helpful marshals helping us cross the road. At this point I knew that this was the last flat before the Trooper beast, and as I rounded the corner the hill started. It was fairly steep to start and then there was a fork in the road with the right fork being Trooper lane and just the sight of it had me walking almost instantly, I need to stop giving into hills so easily but oh well. Simon managed to carry on further and flew past me with ease around the first corner, I started to run again but was still only about a tenth of the way up the hill it wasn't long before the hill became steeper and almost everyone I could see was walking at this point. Some would rest then run a bit some were just happy to walk and a select few were jogging, very slowly but were at least keeping the legs going. Finally we started to reach the top and there was a fairly big crowd cheering people as they reach the top and when you reach the top there was a water station and it was a very welcomed sight. 

The next mile or 2 was a run across the tops of the hills with stunning views not that I could enjoy them as I was trying to keep my feet on the uneven ground. After a steep muddy track down there was another steep hill to climb not as far but it was too soon after the long downhill and the legs just couldn't adjust enough and it wasn't long before me and Simon both started walking again. The next two miles were more of the same downhills and uphill each time getting smaller than the last but as you tackle one you get even more tired and the next one feels just as big last. Finally after countless fields, gates, stiles and steps we were on our final descent into Elland park wood and a 1km long run through the bluebells. It was very beautiful but even surrounded by the lovely bluebells there was a few ups and downs to drag that little extra bit energy out of your already stamina stripped legs. There was one last steep downhill which made your quads scream or your calfs in Simons case before you were finally back on flat roads. With about half a mile to go you pass a very appealing pub which almost makes you stop for pint and a rest but you can also see the marshal up ahead where you drop down onto the canal path, so you know you're nearly there. But even though you're on the canal and you know the river crossing isn't far away it feels like another 5 miles before you start to see and hear the point you cross the river. When I arrived the nice marshals advise you to hold on to the railings as you go down the steps but the way I felt there would have been no way I could have done it without them. As you cross the river there is a banking full of people cheering and taking photos, lots of people were running across but I was too busy enjoying the cold water on my feet. 

After all the uphills and downhill my feet might as well have been on fire so the icy water was fantastic at the end. So when I climbed the bank at the other side and all you can see is this enormous finish funnel lined with people cheering it helps you run for the line and finish in style. 

Fantastic, what a run, and I can say that at least 95% of the runners would say the same. Even if like me you ran round going "oh no more hills" when you cross that line and look back fantastic is pretty much the only way you can sum it up. I crossed the line in a time of 1hr38m which considering the hills and the regular bouts of walking I think is a fantastic time and at my first attempt too.

After you finished you can't help but go back to the river crossing to watch and cheer everyone else across. There was plenty of happy faces and friendly chatter on the banks of the river, with everyone sharing times and their versions of Trooper lane. After all of the parkrun crew had finished we then went for a celebratory drink at the pub we passed near the end of the run, it was a great ending to a excellent morning of fun, friends and running.

Let's see what happens next year, yes?

Keep running everyone

Thank you to Tim Walker, Tony Pinnington and Jo Talbot-Paterson for the pictures they are awesome.

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