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Team A Wooler Review – Continued

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After a wicked weekend in Wooler, the team have rested, recovered and put together their own experience on paper after such a successful weekend!!

Harvey

The trail outlaws Wooler half has become a bit of an annual event for me over the last few years. It’s a great event, in a stunning place with some lovely people who run it. Well, this year I fancied something a bit different and opted for the marathon. This is significantly longer than I have ever raced before, bar once but I do well to block out that memory…

Like any trail race it started with a very unassuming feel but with a nervous excitement and energy of what’s to come.

10k in and everything was going very smoothly, over the cheviot and all still going well. This is where the first hints of danger came, only halfway in and a twinge of cramp. Part of me saying stay calm it’s okay, the other half s******g myself I wouldn’t make it round.

Fast forward another 20k that past in a blur of too many gels, some stunning views, knee deeps bogs and the odd cramp and I’m done.

A week on and I have already blocked out the mud, sore legs and walking down the stairs backwards and only remember the views, great memories and cheering the rest of the team around on Sunday. Did I have fun, definitely, will I go back, probably.

Eddie

The Wooler Trail Half Marathon is a 14 mile trail run through the heart of the Northumberland National Park, starting and finishing in Wooler, with 741 metres of climbing! The race is organised by Trail Outlaws who put on various trail events in the North of England and Southern Scotland and was sponsored by Scott Sports UK.

6 Members of Team A- the performance running group overseen and personally coached by Head Coach Stuart Hale of Accelerate entered into the race with 5 of us doing the half and the other doing the marathon

As someone who much prefers to stick to good old reliable road running (and preferably flat) this was certainly out of my usual comfort zone and a bit of shock to the system; the route covered features a mix of undulating terrain through forests, fields with livestock, streams, through/over several gates and stiles and across heathered moorland with a single checkpoint and water station at the halfway mark. Weather permitting the route offers splendid and often breath taking and uninterrupted views of the horizon. Thankfully apart from some rain in the hour leading up the start, it remained dry with good visibility allowing the views to be taken in, although this was often when struggling up the inclines or looking ahead to see how bad the next climb looked!  Some of the climbs were pretty brutal- none more so than having to reascend the at times very steep mile incline you have just descended to get to the checkpoint. The majority of the inclines are tackled within the first 14KM but there is still some undulation to be tackled before you get to the finish line however overall the inclines and declines themselves aren’t very technical and would be considered reasonably beginner friendly, a group I would certainly put myself in for this type of terrain. With a great pair of trail shoes (Scott Supertrac RC 2) I found grip to be in abundance and would often find myself overtaking people on the descents, I really did feel confident with my footing that I wasn’t suddenly going to slip or end up with a nasty injury and when I was able to turn up the pace the shoes felt lightweight and responsive.

Overall it was an extremely well organised event, with facilities to leave bags at the start/ finish area, the entire route was obviously marked throughout (and dare I say even I would have struggled to have gotten lost) and  plenty of supportive marshals along the way with  finishers awarded a medal and a quality t-shirt at the end.

Whilst im still not a fully fledged convert to trails I do look forward to hopefully doing it again next year with the team and looking to improve on my time. I can certainly see how doing more trails and off road running can benefit a self confessed “road runner specialist” and will try to incorporate this a bit more into my training. For anyone looking to get into this themselves Accelerate offer ATR groups (Accelerate trail run), a twice weekly friendly and sociable off road run at a steady  sustained pace with plenty of stops and regrouping, more information can be found instore if interested.

Will

The Wooler trail half marathon was my first time racing this distance and my first trail race in over two years. I had no idea what to expect from the race but was excited to put on my trail shoes and head up north with the team. The sky was grey as we arrived in race HQ but started to clear as we toed the line with everyone excited to set off. I felt strong as the race began, conserving my energy but taking the race out at a strong pace with Jonah beside me. I pushed on solo as we got into the hills and the mud, aiming to keep Chris in sight as we raced further away from civilisation.

The long climb at the turning point halfway round the course was the hardest part of the race for me. My legs started to tire as did my morale, but a strawberry yoghurt gel (much nicer than it sounds!) and a few sips of water perked me up as I reached the top of the climb. I was able to pick up the pace as I descended back into Wooler and hold onto second place. Overall, I was very pleased with how the race went. I felt strong over the half marathon distance and feel like the longer efforts in training, and strength and conditioning work in recent months, has made me able to compete over longer distance events. I’m looking forward to the Percy Pud 10K in December and potentially some cross country races in the new year.

Jonah

After a long training block and a tiresome first few weeks of sixth form, I felt happy in the knowledge that I would be back racing at the weekend of the Wooler Trail Half Marathon. So on Friday, two days before the race, Chris, Harvey and I embarked on the long drive up to Northumberland, a pleasant journey where we talked about race plans and Harvey’s preparation for the marathon, which was on Saturday.
When we arrived, Harvey knocked up a delicious mushroom dahl, which must’ve been good seeing as I don’t normally like mushrooms. It was then time to relax, settling down for the evening to watch a film, after discovering the local Co-op.
On Saturday, after Harvey had set off on his marathon, Chris, Michelle and I – one of the Scott reps- went to support Harvey at the first checkpoint in the marathon at 10k, where he came through in a brilliant 2nd. After this, we drove back to the finish to see Harvey come in, taking the win and smashing the course record by over ten minutes! Well done to Harvey!
Back at the house, with Harvey sprawled on the sofa, the rest of the team arrived, with Eddie, Hugh and Will completing the group. It was now time to get down to business and talk team tactics and start to gather our kit ready for the race the next day. While Eddie, Hugh and Will went for a shakeout run (me and Chris had already been earlier), I helped Chris make lasagne for tea ready for when the others got back.
After eating the delicious lasagne while watching a film about the spine race, it was time to kip down for the night, to get some well needed rest, ready for the day ahead.

It was race day- I woke up around 6:30 in the morning and made porridge for the team, then it was time to pack our gear, and off we went to the start.
After collecting numbers, it was time for a short warm up to get the legs going and to mobilise. As a new member to the team, mobilisation was a newer thing to me, but it really does make a world of difference.

By now, it was absolutely tipping it down, and on the start line, I went over the race plan that I’d made with coach Stuart to go fairly easy, wind up the pace in the second half, and most of all, enjoy the experience.
It’s safe to say that after one kilometre of running, that plan was positively out of the window; I’d set off at a relatively conservative pace and just thought, “this is boring, let’s go faster.”
Throughout the race, I constantly enjoyed the magnificent scenery of the Cheviots, an area I was not previously familiar with. I had settled into a good rhythm and was holding third place, with Chris in first, and Will a couple of hundred metres ahead in second.
A sense of pride filled me as I rounded the top of the last major hill at 12k, and my inner 10k runner was unleashed for the final part of the race. For in my opinion the most enjoyable part of the race, I cruised along the last few kilometres, back down towards Wooler, and back down to the road. I rounded the corner to the sight of Chris and Michelle cheering me on with a little less than one kilometre to go.
As I crossed the line in 3rd place, I was greeted by Chris, Will and Harvey and the Team Accelerate podium clean sweep was complete.

A huge thank you to Chris and Michelle from Scott, and Scott for supporting the team and making the whole experience possible by gaining me special permission to enter.

What an experience overall, I definitely will be coming back and would certainly recommend this to anyone who is considering a longer trail race!

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