Firstly, for those unfamiliar with the Trunce fell races, here’s a little info on the 50 year old classic fell race. Trunce is a series of 9 races that are held across the summer months every year, roughly 3 weeks apart. They are always on a Monday evening, and every race is the exact same route, which is a 3.7 mile course set in Oxspring, Peak District. With it only being a short race, and only having a couple of climbs, its quite a fast course, however the with 558ft of climbing throughout the 3.7 miles, those couple of climbs take some powering up. Its a great race though, a real adventure, crossing the River Don and some narrow fast woodland descents its good fun. With it being a series there obviously comes a league and points system. You get points for finishing in the top 20, but also get points for getting PBs, the number of points is reflected on home many seconds you take off of your previous time, so it can become quite technical as you try and get PBs every race.
Now, with the race explained I can talk about last nights meeting, and the final one of the series. Its tradition every year that for the final race of the series runners race in fancy dress, not everyone participates in the light hearted fun and just run in their standard attire, me being one of them. Thankfully not everyone is as boring or serious as me, and yesterdays meeting produced some great outfits, from a lollipop man to four nurses carrying a dummy on a stretcher. Fair play to all those that took part in costumes though, its hard enough running through the River Don in shorts and a vest, I can’t imagine how tough it is with a long fluorescent jacket on and a 6ft lollipop stick in your hand! It all made for a great atmosphere though and a great send off to this years series.
As the few hundred runners lined up for the start of the race, I got my self in position at the front of the pack, as 1/2 mile down into the race and the path narrows to single file so you need to try and get into a good position before you hit that. As always its a fast start, as the leaders sprint off down the trail jostling for position. The pace of the start always catches me out as after about 400 meters I can’t imagine being able to keep that sort of pace up for another 3 miles, but somehow I do. I managed to hit the single file paths in 8th position which is about the position I usually am at this point in the race. There was a bit of exchanging of positions but I stayed in 8th all the way through the woodland section and until we got up onto the roads.
Once we hit the road I managed to open my legs up a bit and up the pace, I was feeling stronger than I thought I was going to be and managed to pass a couple of runners and up into 4th. We then hit our first ascent, and for the first time ever on this course, I managed to run it hard and actually pull away from the runners behind me a little and give myself a bit of breathing space. As the route levelled out and again and started heading back into the woods, I could see 3rd place (a man in a floral dress) but he was quite away ahead of me and even at the half way point where we were now, Id assigned myself to the fact I wasn’t going finish higher than 4th. The job for me now was push as hard as possible, try and stay in 4th and aim for that PB.
As we come out of the woods we were back on the road, and with it been a flat path its here where you need to push on and make some time up. I ran it well but could hear the tiny sounds of pitter pattering feet behind me getting closer, so although I was running my hardest I wasn’t quite hard enough. As the road went on I managed to just stay in front of the couple of runners behind me, and as we headed back into the woods for the final time, and once last climb, I felt confident my climbing was strong enough to hold onto 4th place. There is still one last flat trail to the finish line once I get out of those woods though and I was aware that the runners behind me were probably going to gain on me again, so I had to attack that last climb. I didn’t attack with the quite venom I would of liked to but it is always a hard one at that stage in the race, tired legs and heavy breathing aren’t the best physical attributes to run up hill. I did manage to steadily run it though, even if it was just a little faster than walking pace at times, and I came out of the top of it still in 4th place. Now with just 1/2 mile of flat trail until the finish line, and 5th place just behind me, I had to give it one last push.
I hadn’t looked at my watch for an indication of what sort of time I was on at all at this point, I purposely told myself to ignore as it might of put me off. At the end of the day, just like everyone that takes part in running races, you run it as hard as you can and to the best of your ability, and you can’t do anymore than that really. As I ran down the final lane I could still hear 5th place behind me, I wasn’t going to look to see where he was as Iv always told myself to focus on what’s in front, not what’s behind. With about 200 metres to the finish the track bares right slightly onto the home straight, and as I turned around the corner I just caught a glimpse of an orange vest, so I know I still had work to do. Now, blowing like a steam train and legs like jelly the last thing I wanted was a sprint finish, but knowing there’s a man in an orange vest right behind me and the chance of a possible PB on I had to open them legs up. I took a quick glance at my watch at this point and that was all the motivation I needed……a PB was possible!
I felt like I was going to trip up with every stride as I sprinted for the line, my legs were shot but I was dying for that PB…..a sub 25mins was possible. As I closed in on the finish line I couldn’t hear any feet behind me, so I assumed Id done enough to claim 4th place, but it was all about the time now. Focusing just on the finish I raised my finger to my watch, ready to press stop as soon as I passed the line…….’click’……..straight away I looked at the watch face……25:09! Although I was aiming for sub 25mins just 30 seconds previous, it was still 5 seconds faster than my previous best at Trunce and I would of taken that prior to the race. Absolutely exhausted and legs gone, I stood with the first three finishes (all looking like they’d just been for a stroll around the park) not saying a word, with my hands on my knees bent over. A few moments passed and I too got my breath back and felt more human, and managed to congratulate the three in front of me. I still couldn’t believe though that Id ran that hard and what I felt was strong, and got beat by a man in a dress!! Buzzing with my result though I headed back up towards the last 100 metres mark of the home straight to greet home my father in law (pictured). Prior to the run Paul said he wasn’t feeling up for the race at all, after a weeks holiday in the alps drinking premium lager and still suffering from a slight cold. However, just when I wasn’t expecting it Paul came around the corner and onto the finish straight, looking strong and comfortable. He ended up finishing just a few seconds off of his PB time which was shock to us both after his earlier comments before the race, so he too was on a high.
Its a shame it was the last Trunce of the year, I really do enjoy this little course. I’m already looking forward to getting back out there next year, and hopefully after a good winter of training and bigger races, I’ll come back even stronger and faster. Thanks to all those involved for another great year of Trunce, and I’ll see you next year.