Tag Archives: trail running

Maverick Dark Series – Surrey and Hampshire

To finish off November and Kick off December the hubby and I had two more of the Maverick Dark series races to run. In between these races and my previous race I have “come out” as being pregnant, which explains why Phil has agreed to drop his pace to run with me, and why I’ve slowed down quite as much as I have, making a concerted effort to not over exert myself.

The first of the two races was set in Surrey at the Denbies Wine Estate. We signed up for the three dark series races before we knew I was pregnant so we had already opted to do the long distance for each of them. This race was advertised as 15km for the long distance, but eventually came up just a little short, around 14.5km by my watch, a little less than that if you believe Phil’s.

It was freezing cold on the evening, and we were lucky that we could use the main building of the Denbies Wine Estate, including the warm indoor toilets prior to the race, eventually though we had to head out into the biting cold to take our places by the start line. we set off into the dark at 5pm, in the glow of our head-torches, and pretty much straight up a hill.

Cresting the hill
Photo Credit: Sue Hill Photography

The hill felt never ending, I found it really tough going, and had to give up and walk despite it being so near the beginning of the race. The views out over the estate were amazing though, the lights of Surrey twinkling below us. As the path levelled off it was easier to run again, but it’s fair to say I found this race tough. It was really hilly and I was suffering somewhat with fatigue. I wasn’t sorry It came up a little short.

Despite being a trail run, underfoot the ground was good, sometimes on paths and sometimes on wooded trails, and much less muddy than the previous race in Sussex! This was a good thing as we had to swing by a family charity event on our way home, and it also made changing in a freezing cold car park much easier too!

The next weekend we packed up the car and headed to the New Forest for the Hampshire race. This time we booked ourselves into a hotel nearby, so we were able to get changed and take the 5 min drive to the race start without rushing.

The race was based at Foxlease in Lyndhurst, which is a Girl Guiding UK activity centre (one that brought back happy memories, as I actually stayed here in my younger days). Again the HQ was in doors, which meant no portaloos, but the evening didn’t feel as cold as the week before.

This race was advertised as 16km, and with less elevation than the week before, I was confident the extra distance shouldn’t be too much of a problem, a good thing, as this time I clocked the race as a little over the advertised distance. Again we set off in the dark at 5pm, out of the main entrance of Foxlease and straight into the forest.

Again, the route was easy going underfoot, keeping to the fire roads that weave through the forest. It was really pleasant running through the trees in the dark, at one point running past a bemused looking pony in the dark (although I only noticed the one). The hills were much more manageable than the week before and I felt like I was running much better this time.

Nearly at the finish!
Photo Credit: Sue Hill Photography

After a bit of a nasty fall earlier in the week proceeding this event, the race really helped to restore my running confidence (although I’ve not run since, still a little nervous I think) and it was a wonderful run.

When we finished the only slight dampener on the evening was not receiving the original medal for the event, after it had been over sold, we were handed a wooden engraved medal which we have seen at other races being given to the dogs! We were both slightly miffed, it made the ending feel a bit flat. Although I don’t usually care about what (if any) medal I get, I have a wall full of the things, but I had wanted to collect the set and the wooden medal was just not the same as the glow in the dark medal we should have received.  I have been at other races where, when they have taken on extra runners, those runners have been marked on their number or similar, and those are the ones that get the alternative. Perhaps something to think about, as we were not last minuet sign ups.

This stupid little moan aside, which really probably wasn’t worth the paragraph I wasted on it (but hey, i’m pregnant, irrational and want what I want!), these races were fantastic! I really hope I’m able to get in a couple of Maverick’s next year, be it the original series or more in the dark, even if I have to cut down to the short distance and waddle!

Maverick Dark Series, Done!



Bedgebury Half Marathon

Some races are not about time, or pace, but about getting out in the fresh air, with good company and just enjoying the ride, and that is exactly the way I was approaching this race.

I had convinced my friend Viki to sign up and run with me, and I know she was a bit nervous about the distance, having struggled to find time to train lately and suffering a few injury niggles, however she still wanted to run, and we agreed on a slow gentle run.

Waiting to start

It was an extremely cold, with the temperatures barely above freezing, but the sun was shining and the rain that had been prevalent the day before was no where to be seen, which actually made it lovely conditions to run in (once the feet had defrosted!)

The race started at the top of a hill, then headed down onto the forest paths that make up Bedgebury Pinetum. My all terrain trail shoes were perfect for this run, as we started on grass, but were soon running on a variety of paths from proper paved surfaces to ankle deep mud on woodland trails.

As we made our way around the first lap, which made up the first 10km of the race, I was reminded of how lovely a place to run Bedgebury is, having done a race here once before, and also visited a few times to do the Go Ape course they have up in the trees. It’s very scenic, with no traffic, but you do have to watch out for bikes as there are several well marked bike trails that are popular with cyclists, and also the odd horse!

One of the lakes we passed on route

The latter part of the first lap took us through Bedgebury’s Gruffalo trail, before being directed away from the final hill off to complete a second lap for the people running the half marathon.

Viki and I were having a lovely time, chatting away and jogging along nice and slowly, having to stop for a walk on some of the more mud laden paths as Viki’s footwear couldn’t cut it against the slippery paths! No one could accuse us of running too fast,and we were definitely near the back of the of the half marathon runners, but we didn’t care.

As we made our way around our second lap it became clear this race was going to come up short of the advertised distance, my GPS watch consistently beeping off the miles about half a mile after we went past each of the mile markers. I knew this would be irritating my husband, who was far ahead of us (actually he came 23rd!), but since we were not looking for a fast time, Viki and I weren’t too bothered.

As we turned up the final hill back towards the start line, Viki’s young son Chester was there to cheer us on, and began running up the hill behind us, so we took his hands, and he ran with us the rest of the race and over the finish line.

Making our way to the finish

It had taken us almost 3 hours to complete this race (I wasn’t kidding when I said we took our time!) and in the end I clocked the race at about 700m short (which is a lot, even if we consider the inaccuracy of GPS in the trees). We had a lovely run on a sunny Sunday though, finishing with a very smart medal shaped like a pine-cone, and are looking at going back to run the 10 mile race hosted there in February. All in all a great way to spend a chilly Sunday morning.

Finished with our medals


Maverick Dark Series – Sussex

Due to dropping out of the Bournemouth Marathon, it had been well over a month since I last did a race, as I had planned to give myself a break so by the beginning of November it was about time I dusted off my kit and earned a new medal!

A cold, wet, Saturday dawned with a nice lazy start, as this race was taking place at night! The first of three evening trail races put on by Maverick. Phil and I headed out late Saturday afternoon to travel to the race that was taking place at Cowdray Park in West Sussex.

Phil and I getting kitted out and ready to start

It was very cold waiting to start, as the light quickly leached away and the start time of 5pm approached. As normal for a Maverick race there was the choice of a short, medium or long route, and Phil and I were unsurprisingly doing the long route of 15km, but rather unusually we were actually going to be running together, Phil slowing down to run with me for a change.

The start line in the fading light

After a race brief to explain how the course was marked using reflective signs and glow sticks, it was on with the head torches and off into the darkness. We started down hill on a paved road but it was soon off into the trees, across increasingly muddy paths.

Despite the cold, we soon warmed up running, trying to avoid the biggest puddles, but getting splattered in mud as we weaved through trees and across fields. The rain from earlier in the day had eased off, and although it was spitting lightly at times, I barely noticed it.  We ended up running near a group who seemed to be finding navigating in the dark quite a challenge, and kept going wrong and getting confused. Luckily Phil and I were a little more adept at spotting the signs reflecting in the head torches or the glow sticks in the trees and several times we helped to put them right, managing never to get lost ourselves.

It was good fun running through the mud in the dark, but all good things much come to an end and we eventually crossed the finish line together and collected our medals and beer before going to get changed in the somewhat soggy car-park and hitting the road on the hunt for food.

Looking forward now to the next in the Maverick Dark series in Surrey at the end of November.