Race Report: Wildman | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Wildman

Monday, 1 December 2014

Race Report: Wildman

WHAT:  Trail 10k run
WHERE:  Ash Vale, Surrey
WHEN:  22nd November 2014

A course so good, I ran it twice…in the same morning.

The marshals were a little surprised to see a handful of keen runners arrive hours before the first race in the Human Race Off-Road Series had begun, even more so when we trotted over the start line with no numbers, no timing chips and no other competitors. 

What goes down, has to go back up again...!

We’d gathered for a recce of the course and to soak up the trail-running knowledge of the Army Triathlon (as well as soaking up some boggy Surrey mud on our way round). The first thing we needed to know? If you’re running like Phoebe from Friends, you’re doing it right – lifting legs higher than you would on the road and keeping your upper body loose. This will become particularly useful whilst running down hills and there were plenty on the Wildman course. Apparently, gravity is a trail-runner’s friend – keep your arms wide for balance, your stride wide and let nature carry you down. And in my case, I also braced myself for the inevitable bump and slip down the steep mud slide…but it never came. These guys knew their stuff and led us down without mishap.

As our guides headed up the longest, energy-sucking hill on the course, they instructed us to follow at a slower speed – after all, there’d be no point in powering up the hills, only to collapse at the top! Instead, we took smaller steps and pulled our arms in to drive ourselves upwards. The second time around, the hills seemed to have more than doubled in height – faced with them again, I couldn't quite believe I'd run up them all! But being able to tackle even just half of each hill again, meant the tips obviously worked!

Second 10k of the morning and still (kind of) smiling!

This event is known as "the boggy one" of the series – it's pretty soggy underfoot. Don't expect to come away with anything less than mud-soaked trainers, brown socks and splattered legs. And it's for this reason that we were instructed to take note of our foot placement. "Tread only where you can see the ground." It sounds obvious but if you're ever tempted to splash through a big old, deep puddle when you could've gone around it, remember what could be lying at the bottom – slippery rocks, potholes, in short, a potential twisted ankle. Army Triathlon were no killjoys, though and the odd splash was permitted, just so long as we took it easy on our way through.

I took home some Surrey mud!

Taking it easy was the advice I carried through the official race, my second lap of the course. This time running with the keen and the timid, with two-legged and four-legged companions (there were enough canicross competitors to keep crufts entertained), my tired legs encouraged me to take in the views to distract myself through most of the 10k loop. We were somehow running in the middle of nowhere, despite being so close to easy race day transport. Knowing there'd be friendly crowds cheering and a bucket of Haribo at the finish (and that I didn't have to ride my bike up and down the hills as part of the duathlon that ran the same day) carried me to the end for the second time that day. I'd certainly earned my race day t-shirt!

If you fancy taking part in the rest of the Human Race Off-Road Series, you can sign up here.

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