After such a miserable, gloomy and wet winter, it was a relief to be pulling on my running shoes in anger to actually race. To be honest, the forecast was pretty much as it has been since November: rain, and more rain. This time it was the impending arrival of Storm Imogen that was the cause of the inclemency. However, after months of sloshing around tracks and moors, the prospect of further precipitation wasn’t going to put me off my second participation in the Grizedale Trail Half Marathon.

The contrast to last year couldn’t have been more marked. Instead of crunchy snow and slippery ice underfoot, it would be gravel, rock and mud. The temperature gauge in the car was displaying a positively balmy 6?C on the drive up. Last year the mercury stayed resolutely below freezing for the entire day.

A decent turnout of COLTs enlivened proceedings, and one of our number, Andy Ley, was first Vet home in an astonishing 1:36:19 (there is well over 450 metres of ascent to contend with on the course). He was fifth overall, too. My time was a much more modest 2:12:18. I felt pretty good most of the way round but my pace was a fair bit slower than the previous year (6:05/km compared with 5:54/km) which is a bit confusing, as I’ve done a lot more mileage in the run up to this one compared to last year. I suspect I’m lacking in speedwork as I haven’t been doing much in the way of reps this winter. Still, it was enough to finish comfortably in the top half of the results and 10th in my age group. I’m happy enough with that.

I can’t think of a better race to get rid of the winter blues than this one. The course is, for the most part, on good quality forest track with just a few technical sections of stony single track and muddy moor. It’s well marked out and reasonably challenging without being too hard. Sign on is simple and stress free and there is an excellent caf? plus the Grizedale visitor centre itself if family want to come along and support. The race fee includes your parking charge, too. It seems that many people are starting to recognise this and the race sold out in December this year. In fact, I had to take on the entry of a fellow COLT who couldn’t do it, just to get on the start line.

Oh, and it didn’t rain a drop!

photo credit: P1020253 via photopin (license)