New to Trail & Ultra

Firstly forget everything you know about road racing, forget the stress and the crowds, forget the pressure to run a PB, forget trying to beat the person in front of you! We want to set you free from all that to enjoy the journey, the trails and the company of the people who join you on this challenge.

This race has been designed with those who are new to trail & ultra in mind but experienced ultra runners are very welcome and encouraged to share their knowledge of the sport. Please don’t worry that you will feel out of place or that everyone else is going to be a super fit mountain goat. We are are there to support you and will be on hand to help out if needed.

Regardless of your ability this race needs to be taken seriously, it has some challenging terrain and tough climbs. We suggest following a training plan such as this one from RunUltra, spending time running trails to get used to the terrain, training using the equipment and kit you will use in the race and recce the race route in shorter sections.

How fast do I need to run?

So ultra requires a completely different mindset to road running, everyone is going to walk some of it and some people most of it. Think of it as more of a challenge than a race, it’s a long way and much tougher but more enjoyable than pounding the streets. Slowing down and conserving energy will be a revelation, the pressure is off and you can concentrate on enjoying the journey. Chatting to fellow runners is one of the joys of trail and ultra, you will make friends along the way and you will find everyone very supportive. Breaking down the route into the sections between support stations will help keep the challenge manageable.

Pace will be anything between around 4 hours, a little over 7 minute miles and 10 hours around 19 minute miles or 3.5mph if you include a few minutes at each support stop. So you can see the pace is much slower than a marathon which it needs to be to allow for the terrain, the climbs and time at support stops. There are cut off times but they are generous, the cut offs are managed at the support stations, you have roughly 2 hours to complete each 6 mile section and a total of 10 hours to complete the route. The achievement is finishing not how fast you finish!

What is the terrain like?

The route is on national trails, public footpaths and bridleways. It’s a mixture of tracks (vehicle width byways), trails (single track paths, usually through woodland) and quiet lanes (tarmac or reasonable surface roads). There will be rooty sections, uneven surfaces and the odd gate, but it’s all good running. If it’s wet then it’s likely to be muddy in places, trail or at least running shoes with good grip should be used. You will pass through villages and use short sections of village roads. As with most trail races there is a lot more climbing than road races, even the more experienced runners will walk the climbs. The climbing on this route is around 900m or 3000ft, but what goes up must go back down!

IMPORTANT – Roads are not closed. We use short sections of quiet lanes so please be aware there may be motor vehicles or farm traffic on these roads. Road crossings are not marshalled, we will sign crossings but you must stop and check it’s safe to cross, even if you cannot hear or see a vehicle there could be a bike, a horse rider or a pedestrian coming the other way. You are expected to act as any other pedestrian would when crossing a road. At the end of the day it’s common sense to look after yourself, and other people. Likewise, the trails are not closed so you are likely to encounter dog walkers, mountain bikers, ramblers and other people doing their thing, we have no more right to be there than they do so please show respect to other trail users.

How do I know which way to go?

1. We mark the route with arrows, signs and yellow paint . In a road race it’s possible to “turn off” and just follow the flow, trail running is not like that, quite quickly you will be on your own or in a small group and so it’s important to maintain concentration, miss one arrow in the woods and it’s easy to go off course.

2. We provide hard copy maps of each section (a section starts at a support stop and finishes at the next one). If you can navigate and are good at reading maps it should be possible to make your way round without markers. With a combination of markers and maps it should not be too difficult to follow the route.

3. Another option is to stay with one of the support runners, they are not accurate pace runners but they will start at roughly 5 hour pace and we have a few at different paces including a tail walker.

4. Additionally we provide a GPX download which you can upload to a handheld GPS device.

5. You will be able to see your location on a mobile phone on the tracker app.

What happens if I go off track or run into a problem?

Well let’s say this straight away, it is not unusual for people to get lost or go off track so firstly don’t worry about it.

1. Track back and see if you can pick up the trail, don’t panic about losing time, calmly accept that it’s happened, the less time you spend worrying about it the quicker you will get back on track. Oh, and no you won’t be disqualified!

2. Use your whistle and see if you get an answer, you are probably not far from the trail and other runners will be happy to help you find the route. We also have support runners who will help if they are close by. You can stay with a support runner for the whole race if you prefer.

3. Call us on the published mobile number (Race Guide), we know where you are, we can see your exact location on our laptops and the support teams can see you on their phones. We will explain how to get back on track or come and pick you up if you have a medical issue or cannot continue. If you just wish to drop out please make it to the next support station where you can get food and attention while you wait for us to arrive.

4. Hit the SOS button on your tracker, if you press it we will be alerted. Only do this in an emergency as we won’t hang around to see what the issue is we will just get to you as soon as we can. Do call if possible after alerting us and keep us up to date with the issue and your movements.

What kit do I need?

So it’s summer, it’s a run, what could i possibly need to take other than my running kit? Well it’s important to understand that this is a serious challenge and you should prepare for all eventualities. If you need to stop then it’s wise to have something to pull on to keep warm, if it’s raining you need a waterproof, you are out there for a long time and you need a way to contact us or call for attention if you run into a problem.

You are responsible for carrrying your own water. Although we have frequent support stations where you can refill, you can never be entirely sure during an ultra how long it will take you to reach the next station. Some sections might take longer than others due to heat, terrain, tiredness, injury, navigational issues etc. There are three ways to carry fluids on the run: handheld, multi-bottle waist belt, and hydration pack. Find out what works best for you during your training runs.

We have compusory kit list, items you must take with you if you wish to take part in this race, this will be sent to you in our race guide. Items you might like to consider taking with you are –

  • A base layer (COMPULSORY) – a separate layer to that which you start the race in which should be kept dry and used only in an emergency. 
  • A waterproof jacket with sealed seems (COMPULSORY)  – runners who become wet through suffer reduced core temperature leading to a slowing of pace which can ultimately result in hypothermia. Jackets without sealed seems are not waterproof – the fabric should be verified waterproof (not wind or showerproof). The minimum water resistance of a jacket should be 10,000mm. As well as keeping you dry the waterproof can also be used to keep you warm should the temperature suddenly drop
  • Sunglasses
  • Buff/Cap
  • Lightweight gloves
  • Gaiters
  • A plastic bag for wet clothes, and rubbish
  • A Bottle or hydration pack (to carry up to 1L of water)
  • Electrolyte drink eg. SOS Rehydrate and extra sachets for re-fill
  • A mix of fuel – Energy bars/chews and sweets etc..
  • OS Map –take a map or the section of the map (even if the route is marked) & a compass
  • Waterproof map case if it’s wet
  • GPS Device
  • Mobile Phone (COMPULSORY) – with spare battery or on-the-go charger
  • Whistle (COMPULSORY) If you suffer an injury and are unable to proceed the whistle may help your being located far more quickly than without one.
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Vaseline
  • Insect spray
  • Compeed Blister Plaster
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Foil blanket
  • Tissues/Wet Wipes
  • Rocktape – Cut into strips already
  • Bodyglide or Compeed Blister Stick
What else?

You may have questions or wish to clarify something, that’s fine you can e-mail us (see the footer for the link) we will be happy to help.