This route is amazing, considering you’re actually in Sheffield the entire time and often get to enjoy some beautiful tracks and trails, in places you’d never have expected.
If like me, you’re tempted, but haven’t made your mind up yet – the good news is that entries are welcome on the day. Just make sure you arrive in time to register, which means 8am in time for a 9am start.
Full details are explained on the event website, so sign up now to avoid it selling out before you get there.
For what it’s worth, my quick guide to Trail Rush goes as follows:
Start/finish is in Graves Park and the route follows a counter-clockwise loop as far as Ringinglow before curving back again. In that time you’ll roughly take in three big climbs and three downhill stretches. It’s worth bearing in mind that the first section of the race is largely downhill, allowing you to get a rhythm and ‘warm up’.
As you reach Hunter’s Bar and enter Endcliffe Park (having briefly worked your way up climb No1 – Brincliffe Edge) you begin climb No2 – the most significant climb. The strength sapping Porter Clough, favoured among Sheffield runners and a gateway into the Peak District. You work your way up a seemingly endless uphill until finally swooping left and across a concrete footbridge. This will reward you in two ways. Obviously there’s the relief that comes from levelling out. More importantly, you’ve completed half the course and the hardest section is now behind you.
The trick: Slow down. Run well within yourself until this point, measuring your speed on all flat/downhills so as to preserve the quads, then not tiring to the point of lactic attack before reaching the top of Porter Clough. Soon as it levels, you’re in Ringinglow – with a drink stop and the amazing downhill stretch through Limb Valley to look forward to, closely followed by Ecclesall Woods.
This section is the trickiest part of the course – for all the trods and rough tracks through the woods, you’ve got to trust the most logical, obvious line down the hill. Over think this bit, or stop to work it out and you’ll probably take some needless detour. The majority of this section follows a massive pathway that’s as clear as day. If it’s marked, you’ll be on the lookout for these Trail Rush arrows (below, to the right) –
which are pretty hard to miss, but keep it steady as you move through the fallen branches and you’ll be rewarded by frequent hidden openings that reveal that you’re heading in the right direction.
Once you emerge at Abbeydale Rd and head for Twentywell Lane, you’ll do well to remember that this is the final big climb, but if you’ve already hammered it, this section is a real pig.
The route through Lady Spring Wood features an ‘undulating’ path that at one point includes 73 steps up the steep hillside. Not good. The path keeps rising and falling as you gradually gain altitude and reach Park Bank Wood for more of the same. Tired legs will turn on you right here if you’re not careful. It’ll feel as if the course was designed to break you, even though it’s really quite nice to look at. When you finally come out on the A61 just beneath the entrance to Graves Park, it’s a stint more uphill, then into the park, more uphill and the finish.
Obviously, with all that ‘UP’, it’ll be ‘fun’ to try and judge exactly how much is too much early on. And that’s it really. Oh – and you’ll be fine in road shoes, despite the trails. All are well established and by now baked solid. There’s a lot of tarmac, even when running through parks and wooded areas, along with rocky sections. Hardly any need for aggressive shoes. Keep it comfy.
A note about timing and checkpoints: At the race’s numerous road crossings, there are ‘dibbing stations’ where runners are welcome to scan their electronic ‘dibber’ (a small plastic tag, worn at the wrist, supplied at registration) in order to pause the clock for as long as it takes to cross safely (up to 90 seconds), after which they restart the clock at the opposite side before moving on. No need to run into traffic for fear of delay.
Personally, I never once had to use the dibber, but it was definitely nice to know it was an option and shows the thought that has gone in to making this a fun race for all concerned.
Don’t forget that along with Accelerate, Mizuno are supporting this event and are offering promotional vouchers to those who take part(redeemable against their Shoe range here in store), so do get involved. It’ll be a fun day out for all to enjoy. Amazing!