The Hills Are Alive

Trail running can be a bit like Marmite. You either love splashing about in the mud, or you hate it. I’d never tried it before, bar a few rambles along Parkland Walk, but with my year of road racing officially over I needed to fill the void. What better way than challenging myself with Cancer Research UK‘s Tough 10 in the Chilterns with a few friends from Advent Running.

My alarm went off at 6am and I could hear the pouring rain. Reluctantly I dragged myself out of hibernation, and travelled to High Wycombe, where the rain was even worse. The shuttle bus barely made it up the hill to Hughenden Manor, a fitting metaphor for my performance during the race.

Fresh and clean. Melanie, Mark, Me, Heidi and Leah before the race
After a late start due to a “police incident” the race began at 9.45am. It was still raining. There were up hills, down hills, slippy leaves, muddy puddles and a course invasion by a heard of sheep. I don’t think it could have been anymore “countryside” if it tried.

What suprised me the most about the run was how much I had to adjust my running technique. Fortunately I was running with a few seasoned trail runners who gave me tips when I needed them most. Take smaller steps, let your arms flap about, walk up the hill if you can’t run up it any faster.

Crossing the finish line I felt a real sense of accomplishment. I hadn’t run my fastest time, but what I had done was conquered a tough course, experienced trail running, and raised money for Cancer Research UK. The photo below (an uncanny resemblance to The Sound of Music) perfectly sums up my emotions during the race.

An uncanny resemblance. Captured by @melanies_mckay moments before the finish
Unfortunately the series of Tough 10 races has now come to an end, but hopefully they’ll be back next year. I’d highly recommend them to anyone looking to experience trail running and, more importantly, support a great cause.


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