Hawkshead homecoming: Euphoric return to trail running
2 years battling with Lyme Disease and I was able to return to running a Lakeland Trails #trailrunning event. That it happened to be the Hawkshead 17km – the very event I’d last been able to run in 2013 – felt like I was genuinely on the way back.
The omens were good. Ben Keegan was joining me. The sun was beaming. And we had a record number of entrants, all eagerly anticipating a cracking day. And it didn’t disappoint!
Boom Dang Samba Drumming Band got us all in the mood as we readied for the off. Have to admit to a real mix of joy, nervousness and running pure excitement at being back on the start line after 2 years. Ben was a little nervous too, this being his first ever trail run. Countdown from 10 and we were off! A short route out of Hawkshead village and we were already on the climb up into the woods where conifers loom all around you. Stunning scenery!
Then you’re simply into your rhythm, keeping going uphill, remembering posture to increase oxygen intake as your thighs and calfs begin to complain.
As For always the effort of climbing over 200m in roughly 4km was worth it. The views as you emerge from the forest trail are a pure joy to behold. I couldn’t help but spread my arms with the sheer exhilaration of doing this again!
Contrasting from the heat of the forest track came a lovely refreshing breeze of as we topped Bible out. Legs recovering, pushing on, soft underfoot – we really felt we were running free at this point.
As we continued over plush pastures, we undulated for about 1km and the ‘smile’ sign reminded us to switch from a grimace as the course photographer captured us both with the Tarns and Langdales cheap jerseys in the background.
It was almost all downhill into Far Sawrey where we gratefully threw some water down our necks and over our heads. Then we were slogging up the farm track that switches back north towards Lake Windermere. At 8km the uneven, rutted trail here has always been one of my favourite parts of the course because you can really go for it, totally focused on your step over tree roots, rock, mud, as you pelt down towards the shoreline of Lake Windermere.
We were then enjoying the speed and tranquility of trail running through Heald Wood, the shoreline of the Lake to our right. You can really pick some speed up here if you want – or simply let your legs recover a little, in preparation for the infamous coffin trail!
Onwards to the 14km drink station, we took a very short pause to throw some more water down us – a welcome cool down. Not so welcome was the first lady disappearing up the coffin trail leaving us in her wake! The coffin trail is 1 solid mile cheap jerseys of over 250m elevation – brutal! Very rough ground too. That’s the pleasure again of trail running varied terrain. You know it’s going to be worth it.
I have to admit to slowing to a [ahem] brisk walk at this point. The fact I found the breath to chat to another runner suggested I was easing off a little to recover 🙂
Topping out for the third time on the day we gave it everything, letting gravity do Cabu its job of taking us down at top speed. Ben got 100m away Jill from me at this point and I never quite got that back!
After we crossed the showground and tarmac, we gave the final push into the Hawkshead Recreation Ground for a strong finish – well cheap nfl jerseys there was a crowd! The noise and atmosphere created by everyone at the event really made the finish enjoyable. I was beat but beaming! I demolished a moroccan tagine and coffee, before going for the full monty with a hog roast and trimmings. Ben went straight for the cider!
So it was a case of kicking back in the sun, my sunburned head catching more rays, lapping up the atmosphere of the Apres Trail Party and singer/songwriter Pete Lashley. Just as awesome was race director Graham Patten, coming over to say welcome back – did I mention I’d been away for 2 years? 😉 This excellent footage by Graham sums up the spirit of the day, the views, the #trailrunning community.
Just one word: Awesome!