Friday 30 May 2014

Race Report: Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon

This is a race I signed up to after reading an awesome race report from my running bud Laura on last year's event. It sounded perfect for my first trail experience and in many ways it was, with just a few hiccups along the way...

I'll admit that I was a little nervous heading in to this race - since the marathon I've done very little running bar that 'little' 13.1 miles with the boy in Geneva 3 weeks ago. I had, however, done a 10K training session (with Louise Hazel, no less!), and a few sprint, weight and HIIT circuit sessions, mostly because I could feel that jiggly spare tyre round my middle starting to rear it's ugly head. Toto, we're not in marathon training mode any more: we cannot eat ALL the food. Sad face.

On yer bike!

After a grey and all-round miserable Saturday (brightened up only by parkrun volunteering and a lido swim) I was plenty chuffed to wake up to some sunshine bright and early on Sunday morning.

My mate Steph had offered to give me a lift over to Windsor, so I hopped on the bike and pedaled the 5 miles or so over to her pad (wearing my lovely new Lululemon run capris - see left). The ride there was lovely. The way back not so much! Note to self: it is hard to cycle 5 miles over undulating terrain after a half marathon. Lesson learned.

Loo queues
Anyway, arriving at the small event village there was the tell-tale sign of not enough portaloobees - a massive snaking queue.

Fortunately, the event organisers seemed pretty laid back about when you started, with waves going form the start line a short walk on the other side of the river every 5 mins from 8.30-9.00.

Most chilled-out start line EVER!

 Myself, Steph and Steph's mate Liz started in the 8.50 wave and, despite some initial bottle-necking as we all piled on the the narrow trail path, we were cruising along nicely within 10-15 mins.

Most of the race took place along trail paths by the river and it was seriously beautiful. I will definitely be packing my kicks and heading out that way again, race or no race. Be prepared for major house (and boat!) envy though - not sure if I was green with effort or jealousy for most of it.

Sunshine and trails

We had settled in to a steady 9.45-10.00min mile pace and I was feeling good. So good that I decided to kick it a bit and see if I could drop down closer to 9.30, which I'd averaged Geneva... Yup, felt good too. So at half way I decided to go all out and aim for sub-2 hours. Why the hell not?! It was perfect running conditions for me - sun on my back but with a cool enough breeze, and lots of beautiful scenery to make you just fall in love with running all over again.

Just before I went past ALL of these guys :)

I threw on some tunes and actually started singing aloud at one point in a sheer moment of running love. My fellow runners did not share this love - I am not known for holding a great tune - and so quickly piped down, but continued rocking out in my own head, of course.

Unfortunately, it seems that the laid-back attitude of the organisers came at a cost. They apparently didn't set up the start-line timing mats properly and so all the timings were out and only a gun time could be salvaged if you emailed to give your start time. Cue much enragement on Twitter, but not me: I bloody loved this race, I had my TomTom watch of pace-telling genius on which told me I'd just cut it under 2 hours, and ain't nobody was gonna rain on my trail-running parade.

Big smiles and jazz hands: what trail running is all about

Ok, ok, there were a few other not so great things, like the most piss-poor goody bag ever (two leaflets in a plastic bag - say what now?!) and water supplies in low abundance at the finish line. But on the plus side the medal was a beaut!

Despite a few setbacks it had beautiful countryside running, friendly runners, and a flat, beginner trail runner's dream course. If the organisers can iron out the issues for next year then this will definitely be a 10/10 race, and in the immortal words of Arnie: I'll be back!

Katy | City Girl Fit

1 comment:

  1. Yay! love the photies, I am up for joining you for another jaunt along there. I'm pretty excited about up tow -down flow which I think uses the same first half :D You are a little superstar runner, just bashing out sub 2 halves all the time!