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A Weekend in Wooler

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The start of November means one thing for Team Accelerate, what’s become an annual team trip to a small race in the heart of the Northumberland National Park. Team Accelerate Scott runner Hugh Mackie summarises the trip below.

Following the success and enjoyment of last year’s trip to Wooler, I had been looking forward to this weekend for a while. This time the team consisted of the three newbies Eddie, Will and Jonah, Chef Chris, myself and of course, the self-proclaimed ‘King of Wooler’; Harvey ‘Prema donna’ Martin.

As if I didn’t need any more incentive and excitement, I arrived at work to find the holy grail of parcels; consisting of a new podium jacket, technical fleece and a pair of shiny new Scott Supertrac RC 2 (massive thanks to Scott UK and Accelerate Running Store). With my shiny new goods packed, I was picked up by my Chauffer for the weekend (Eddie), and the weekend began…

Eddie, Will and I all travelled up on Saturday morning and arrived to find Harvey waddling around the house like a toddler with a full nappy. Turns out the madman had decided to upgrade from the half to the full marathon, my personal idea of hell, so he’d already completed his race the day before. Chapeau Harvey and congrats on retaining your Wooler crown. The Saturday arrivals promptly went for a shakeout, following a long drive, and proceeded to try out our bright new shoes. Following an altercation with a postman and a puddle our bright new shoes and clothes were not so dry or clean anymore. A few choice words were uttered and we carried on our recce of the start of the course. Arriving at the final descent, a debate began; to jump the fence or not to jump the fence? A question which can only be answered on race day…

After the route check was complete the boys and I settled down with the fire on, watching football focus; a perfect pre-race afternoon. With Harvey wallowing on the sofa following his jog earlier in the day, it was down to chef Chris to cook up the evening meal; which consisted of Lasagne and some homemade bread. Stomachs full, an early night was in order to prepare for the big race.

Race day!

A nice early arrival gave us plenty of time to collect numbers, kit check and warm up. Looking up to the cloud filled sky we completed a quick prayer to the rain gods, which came to no avail. The team came back from their warmup looking like drowned rats, but the spirits were still high. Last preparations in place, a final team talk about tactics and soon we were off.

Straight from the gun, it was black and yellow at the front; with Chris leading the way and Jonah and Will following closely at his heels. Just in front of me I could see the familiar heels of Eddie, settling in nicely. With coach Stuart’s words circling round in my head, I stayed sensible and kept in zone 2- using this as a training run rather than a race. As we approached the first section of mud, I could see the 3 Team A runners leading the way out in the distance, with myself and Eddie sticking to our respective game plans. By the time I got to the midway turnaround point, Chris had opened up a sizeable gap, we gave each other some words of encouragement and carried on our own races. Next up the hill came Will, looking really strong, closely followed by young prodigy Jonah- who had to get special permission to be allowed to race due to his young age. At the aid station I grabbed a handful of sweets and got on my way, overtaking a couple of competitors in the process. Next up came the big climb, where I saw Eddie flying down the hill, fuelled by a sugar rush of sweets the hill passed by relatively easy; not as bad as I’d remembered! Once at the top of the climb I came into my own, with the flat speed coming into play. I passed one runner, then another, and could see another two way off in the distance. I thought to myself, “I can’t catch them. Or can I”… Before I knew it, I was at the top of the final descent, with the gap between me and the two in front cut down to only 30 seconds. Upon reaching the road, I knew that they were within my grasp. As soon as I got onto the road, I could hear the voices of Michelle and Chris cheering encouragement, and I knew that the people in front were catchable. I quickly caught up with the first person, but his friend proved more difficult. This is when I knew my track training would come into its own, and I flew down the last KM in just under 3 minutes; putting around 30 seconds into the two guys behind me. Not too shabby eh? By the time I reached the finish, Harvey, Chris, Jonah and Will were already changed and describing their own races. I soon learned that the podium was a Team A clean Sweep, with 4 runners in the top 6. Eddie was next across the line with a huge smile across his face (or grimace, I couldn’t tell!); top running from the self-confessed “lover of road running”.

Wow, can I just say, our team is absolutely amazing, and there’s so much potential ahead of us to achieve together!

Now, let’s talk about The Wooler Trail Half Marathon – Trail Outlaws seriously nailed it with this race. The course is a bit of a challenge, but totally doable for runners of all levels. Plus, there are some seriously fast sections to mix it up.

Big shoutout to Scott Sports for being our awesome sponsors at Team Accelerate. I mean, I can’t help but feel super proud, and lucky to be rocking their gear during the race.  And of course, massive thanks to Stu and Debs for being our rock-solid support on and off the course.  And let’s not forget all the wonderful folks at the APC who helped us deal with those pesky little aches and pains, both in our bodies and our minds.

All in all, what an incredible experience, and here’s to many more awesome races and achievements together!

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