Eastridge Trail Half Marathon

Tracey Dean

How do you recover from a 24 hour mountain running race in the outer Hebrides, well race a 2300ft Half Trail Marathon in Snailbeach (Shropshire) a week later of course!

 

I’d entered the race with a couple of other members of the TORQ Performance Trail Team, namley Matty Brennan and Johnathan Hedger. Until I’d looked at the route map in registration (on the day of the run) I’d not realised quite how hilly this little gem of a race was. My initial though was “Darn, how the heck am I going to race this!”

I was still feeling the Rigby race in my legs and knew that any hint of a climb would sap what little strength they had managed to regain after the Rigby. TORQ were part of the sponsorship for the race and I had wanted to do well as an ambassador for them. I was a tad worried to say the least!

 

The first half of the course was a gradual climb on a long and drawn out section of forest and private farmland. I simply hadn’t had the recovery time and ended up hiking, striding and generally wangling a trot to the turn around point. I was sitting in second placed female at this point and I knew that the first lady was a good few minutes ahead. The beauty about an out and back section is that you obviously get the opportunity to see where your competition is in relation to yourself. It was safe to say that nothing short of a miracle was going to get me anywhere near Emma Gould,  a remarkable fell runner. Nonetheless the second half of the course was a little more forgiving, in that it was mainly descending. 

 

The life came back into my legs and I was able to enjoy the run along the trail. Interestingly TORQ’s owner Matt Hart had entered the race as a “bit of fun.” He’s a remarkably fit mountain biker & road cyclist, but hadn’t ran further than a 10k distance for a long time – so surely he couldn’t beat me! I mean – I’m on his performance running team and he was up ahead! I pulled out the stops to catch him in his moment of weakness, (self confessed not very good at descending) and breezed past, remarking on how tired he looked. “Cunning plan” I’d thought sniggering to myself, only then to spend the rest of the race looking behind me to see just how close he was to breezing past again on the small climbs!

It’s safe to say, that I managed to hold on to a good solid finish and in a time of 1hr 45.48 finished second lady (and in front of Matt, phew). A beautiful little race in it’s first year and a great one for anyone who wants to make the transition from road to trail.

Thanks TORQ for fuelling me and making this run a fun day in the hills.

Matty Brennan:

A couple of months ago, I received an email about 2 races that TORQ were assisting with – TORQ Non-Stop and the Eastridge Trail Half Marathon.  As was going to be in Italy for the Non-Stop, so though I might do the Half.  

 

I checked the diary and saw that there was nothing on that weekend and it was 2 weeks after the UTPD – (Ultra Tour of the Peak District), so I should at least be able to walk!

I drove over on the morning of the race, and it was quite warm (for Shropshire).  Parked up, registered, and met up with Matt Hart (founder of TORQ), Jon Hedger and Tracy Dean (TORQ Performance Trail Team members).  It also gave me a chance to have a look at the course map, where I was pleased to see it was almost all off-road.  Hard to see where they got the figure of 2300 feet of climb, but I found that out later!

I got myself ready and packed 3 TORQ gels in my back pocket, as,  although I knew I would be fine on the flat, my “hill legs” hadn’t quite recovered.  A slow jog to the start where there was an entertaining race briefing, a bit of info about a steep hill, and a chance to eye up the disturbingly narrow path up ahead.  Best I elbow a few people out of the road then.

At a shout of “GO”, we were off and in fairly short order I found myself stuck behind a couple of slower gentlemen who had somehow found their way in front of me.  Eventually I managed to go around them to see 1st, 2nd and 3rd steaming off.  It was then that I made the call to get my head down.  The first 2.5 miles were undulating, but I managed to hold on to 5th position until we came to the steep bit.  Lucky there was a rope to help get me up, but the legs were not as happy as my arms! It was at this point that the 2 people behind caught me up and passed.  Ahead was a drink station, so I made the most of that, took a TORQ Rhubarb & Custard gel (my favourite) and cracked on.

 

A nice little descent, then on to the climb up to the highest point which was effectively a 3 mile, 800 ft climb so it’s all runnable, but when you are pushing it and you’ve left your climbing legs at home, it’s hard work! At a water station, I poked in another TORQ for a pick me up and made it to the high point, which is also the turn around point and just over the half way mark of the run. I was in 8th place & just behind Jon Hedger.

A cracking 900 ft descent was next, running back past the rest of the runners (some a bit close!) followed by a cheeky 1 mile/400ft climb on dead quads.  Jon was still in sight so that kept me in focus.  I took my last gel just before the water station and then set my mind on catching him.

A 300ft descent, then an undulating/flattish path the rest of the way in. I was gaining on Jon quite nicely and he almost looked like he had switched off. I made it to within 30 metres of him before he noticed I was there, he then picked up to around the same pace as me, but I was slightly stronger on the ups. By the end, I made it to within a few seconds of him – if only the run had been a few hundred metres longer!
 
All in all a cracking day out and a fantastic little race – well organised, tough and will definitely be back next time on fresher legs!
 
Matt Hart
 
It smarted a bit..!
 
 
As always, a big thank you to all the team sponsors. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do:
 
Altura – Team Clothing                                                             
Max Media – Team PR
Tifosi – Optics 
Camelbak – Race Bottles
Joolze Dymond – Photography
 
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