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Big Way Round Winchester Trail Festival: 19 Miles

As most of you know an intrepid few took on 19 miles of trail around Winchester, here Tricia regales us with her journey to battle the course and finish 2nd lady! (great result).

Most runners will know that to keep motivated you need to set yourself goals and although I previously said my longest distance this year would be a Half Marathon the inner (over?) ambitious self will always say: could you go further, faster, higher?

So whilst keeping up my running regime in the Easter holidays a gentle hungover 5km somehow turned into a “being lost in the german woods for 3hours” 20km uphill / downhill mega run and although this certainly bruised my ego it also made me think could I do longer distances?

In another merry moment (I was on holidays!) a facebook scroll lead me to some Race research and in Totton Running Club style I didn’t need much encouragement to sign up for the next challenge (still to come!).

On my return to England it was back to running with a bang and the Easter Run Weekend made 2 things obvious ……I may have bitten of more than I can chew and I better get training!

To up the Distance Robbie Barlow suggested a 19 Mile event and fellow comrade in arms (legs) on a lovely bank holiday Monday would be Kevin, Vicky, Alison.

A race start of 8.10am meant getting up very early (Holly dog was not impressed!) and my moaning about a pick up at 6.45am was simply greeted with: “I have to get up early and I don’t even run the thing!” by the chair man Rob Barlow senior. At this point I want to say thank you for the lift, it helps me to ensure I don’t get lost on the way to races (not that some other runners did ….)

The weather conditions were perfect, cloudy, not too hot or too cold but also not too windy, simply just right! Off we went through Winchester and along the river into the surrounding area and of course everyone knew there was at least one hill to climb, St. Katherine’s Hill, painful but not too bad as it was still early on. After that a lot of woods, along fields etc meant mainly single file running and whilst the German steam engine Tricia tried to barge her way through with shouts of “runner coming, excuse me, squeezing past” Robbie junior politely chatted to fellow runners whilst trying to consume his gel which lead to the first near fall (me pushing into him, him not looking what he was doing, you get the picture!).

Somehow there was another hill to conquer and just when you run out of energy and will power you spot the strategically placed photographer on top if the hill and try your best to carry on, keep smiling and going for a double wave 😊

Another single file gave us another memorable moment, Mr Flamingo shorts and his “lane hogging”…under no circumstances was this creature to acknowledge that he may hold up traffic massively and when there was finally a little gap to overtake a barrage of comments followed which I chose to ignore and Robbie was too polite to respond to.

There was an aid station meant to be at 7 Miles but as we had a nice little minute rest to take selfies & scenic photos just previously we decided to carry on whilst we were on a roll, off we went through glorious fields of yellow rape seed (my uneducated guess?) passed cute little cottages, through little villages and when we almost missed the sign (they were rather small and Kev missed 2 as well!) to turn what I name “the field of doom”, some sort of crop with a narrow path through the middle and not very nice under foot! After that it got a little tedious, the definition of “undulating” being “more bloody hills”!

I did set my hopes for a stop at the second aid station, we used some cyclists as pacers up said hills and decided to go for distraction techniques: “guess how many coffees Robbie senior and Kev’s other half have had by now / what do we want to mention in our imaginary race report / who do we curse or are we doing this actually for ?! /only 3 more park runs etc.”

There was another steep hill with lots of sheep to get past at some point but eventually aid station 2 came along (although not very obvious sign posted in a random lay by!), refueling was done and we were ready for the final 5 Miles! Mentally I found this the hardest point, I was tired, the legs started to ache and I struggled to get going again but there’s only one way to get back ….carry on running!

The last leg of the route led us through some crazy park with under paths which would be trippy at the best of times but certainly was towards the end of a long run, running through the dark felt slightly weird and hallucinatory! Speaking of tripping we have learned from the best (shout out to combat roll man “I fall at least once in a race” Andy Warren and running along a narrow path with lots of roots of course I tripped massively over, a kind fellow runner asked if I was ok only to be told by Robbie in “She’s fine, she’ll carry on!”

So no tears for me, we continued on regardless only for Karma to strike shortly after, Robbie got hit in the side by some branch poking out (or something similar, he was behind me) which resulted in “ahw, I think I broke my rib, we need to stop for a moment” …so we did.

At which point we got overtaken but a petite blond little lady (they seem to be the fast running type, isn’t that right Helen 😊) and a strong senior runner who commented “if you guys hadn’t stopped to take so many photos & selfies you would be done by now!”

The end came rather unsuspectedly round the next bend and we got cheered in by Rob senior ready with the camera for wavy hand finish photos!

As I had run the whole distance “blind” with Robbie as my pacer & helper I was more than chuffed with the time 2h 46min for my longest run yet and coming in second lady (yes that blonde lady got there first !!!) and the big fat shiny medal made the effort even more memorable and worth it!

Shortly after we were followed by Kevin finishing (he did do a few wrong turns!) and when asked by the chair man to run Vicky in we duly tried to oblige but ran more like the tin man and his slow little helper, Vicky did an amazing strong finish and said the support cheered her up and helped her!

Duty called and I had to get back to work so I am sorry Alison we didn’t wait another few minutes to see you in too! Well done to some fantastic long distance running from all and I would highly recommend Big Feat Events for some non-competitive, scenic trail running with lovely bling!

I’ll be back!

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