Elsecar Trail Marathon

December 16th 2017


Due to illness I was unable to complete the Christmas Canal Cracker in December so I transferred my place thanks to Grim Up North Running, to the Elsecar Running Festival.

Adam and I arrived at the lovely heritage centre about an hour before race start and immediately noticed the ice, everywhere. The car park was free of charge and it was a few minutes’ walk to find the start marquee which would later double as a fuelling point. We grabbed our numbers and headed back to the car to keep warm until the start. Around 8.50 we headed to the start and were told that there would de a delay in the start due to frozen paths.

The course would be a route of one out and back to the marquee and then a loop in the other direction encompassing running around the heritage centre, park, lake and back along the roads. The total distance for each lap was 6.7 miles so this would need to be done 4 times to finish marathon distance (or just twice for Adam who was running the half marathon).

We set out shortly after 9am, around 100 runners running from half marathon distance up to marathon distance. It was designated a trail course so I decided to wear my roclites. The first lap was on the paths on the transpennine way. Had it not been completely frozen I think road shoes would have sufficed. The first lap was slow, avoiding the ice and slowing down when unavoidable. The other runners were incredibly friendly and would say hello and wave when passing in opposite directions. As the morning drew on, the ice started to melt and this made it even more slippery. The canal we were running next to was completely frozen, that’s how cold it was. I was glad to be dressed as Mrs Claus for extra warmth.

I found running on the ice really energy sapping. I had to stop several times at the two aid stations to top up my water. After 13 miles I slowed down even more and put in some walking breaks. I think being ill for a few weeks before the race was starting to take effect.

There is one section where you run on the road for a short distance. I have no trouble road running and am confident even with passing traffic, however some of the road users were quite rude. Winding down windows and shouting (not encouraging words) and tooting horns. There were marshalls either side of the road warning motorists of runners. This was the only real negative of the race for me.

I managed to keep going walking/running and spent the last 13 miles not seeing that many people but the marshals were so encouraging. They stayed in their posts right until the end and must have been even colder than me. Luckily, I had tunes to keep me going. Eventually I saw the finish – and I was pleased to get another marathon, Marathon 11 of the year under my belt in a Garmin time of 4.53.55 for a 26.86 mile distance.

It was another well organised event by Grim Up North although unfortunately only 20 mile medals were available instead of a marathon medal due to a problem with the medals at customs.