Back in early June, the idea of a Tri and Run event was proposed, so as to give our athletes a goal in what had been a racing year whereby every ‘face to face’ event so far had been postponed or cancelled. The route had been changed a few times, but it was finally decided to consist largely of part of the Gritstone Trail, with a ‘lead-in’ and ‘lead-back’ for a start/finish location. This route choice gave a different experience to many of the athletes with three challenging climbs. Moreover, it gave options for athletes to join us part way for those who did not want to take on the full 20+ miles.
Everything we could control had been researched; the recce’s had been conducted, athletes signed up with enthusiasm, kit list prepared and logistics thought through. Timings of various parts of the route were planned so we could meet runners as they joined throughout the run. There were extensively stocked checkpoints, and emergency stand-by – the only thing out of control was the weather!
7.15am arrived and that one variable outside our control, the weather, was on our side, with a fresh but clear and sunny start.
After 10 mins we were on the canal towpath, where we could run safely and chat easily with all runners in the group. There was a broad range of age and experience, so this relaxed group running environment provided an ideal opportunity to share knowledge, experience and to get to know each other. During the first eight miles of the run, the group split into two groups, with one group taking the slightly longer detour so we could meet at the first checkpoint at a similar time.
Checkpoint 1 was positioned where we left the Middlewood Way and joined the Gritstone Trail at the base of the first climb, which provided an opportunity to switch from road to trail shoes. It is amazing how the idea of a check point provides a ‘spur’ to your running and a short achievable goal. Nobody was left wanting at the checkpoint with a wide range of sweet and savoury snacks, plus plenty of water and electrolytes.
Leaving CP1 we headed off through Lyme Park towards the Bow Stones to the peak of our first climb. The pain of this first ascent was soon rewarded with fantastic views across the Cheshire Plains and the special solitude of the early morning added to this experience.
The athletes split into two main supported groups and after Bow Stones, we passed through the sheep covered Sponds Hill where we met another athlete for the remaining part of the run. Then, it was descending into Bollington, with a short road section and we were at the second checkpoint. The time between landmarks and indeed checkpoints had flown by as the banter and chatter between the runners continued. The shared experience between athletes and coaches provided a unique rich platform to develop relationships and understanding.
After checkpoint 2, some undulations and then a sharp ascent to White Nancy, where both groups, ‘bumped’ into a group of other runners – an opportunity to share the run and route, take photos and then head off. At this point, we picked up an unexpected fellow runner who joined us and added a different dimension which made chatting and running seem to be so easy. Although we were now a significant distance into our run, the welcome distraction took away any aches and pains which had/were starting.
Our last ascent was a mixture of a quiet roads and then back to off road, before returning to the start/finish via a road descent. Like all long runs, never mind how many you seem to do, those last few miles always feel like the last 6 miles of a marathon – you can feel every bone/muscle in your legs and you are desperate to stop….but together you make it, still smiling and overwhelmed by what you have achieved.
We were rewarded back at basecamp with a delicious post run meal, drinks and of course cake! It truly was a ‘grand day out’…well 4 hours 25 mins…and one in which I can’t wait to repeat. It is not just us that think our Tri & Run adventure was a success…
“Thanks Vicky and Lynda for a great run, to Lynda and Steve for all the yummy food, and to everyone else for the great company.”
“Amazing day today. Thank you for organising.”
“Thanks Vicky and Lynda. Really good run and great to be out somewhere different.”
“Cheers all, really enjoyed that.”
“What a great morning!!”