“This is a race I will never forget – a tough course in challenging conditions – but the beauty of the surroundings, the enthusiasm of everyone involved and the sense of achievement at the end just about made it worth it!”
The Ashridge Boundary Run was my first “proper” trail and my longest overall run to date. And what a day to do it! With snow falling, a mini-beast from the East growling and conditions underfoot making me question if I had accidentally attended the bog-snorkelling championships, everything was set for my biggest trial to date.
Around 350 runners turned up for a race that, under normal circumstances, is seen as challenging. Beginning at The Monument, the trail takes on the 16.5 miles Boundary route of the Ashridge Estate, set in the Chiltern Hills. This stunning route is a single lap starting with the imposing Ivanhoe Beacon, running through ancient woodlands, lush meadows and one point up a set of steep steps that test your legs to the limit! Whilst the views were stunning much of the course was exposed to the elements and I witnessed a few hilarious efforts at creating some sort of face cover as we ran down hills.
Running on mud/clay paths that had been savaged by recent weather, the going was extremely tough. Even with a good pair of trails, grip was somewhere near impossible, but at least it gave plenty of time to appreciate the views. On a better day, I could almost see what the appeal of this trail running malarky is!
Facilities wise there was an unsecured bag tent, some busy toilets at the start and the National Trust Cafe was open serving a few bits and pieces. There was a good amount of free (muddy) parking available, with your walk to the start line distance determined by what time you arrived! At the end of the race there was water, fruit juice, tea and many cakes – perfect! Water and Jelly Babies were also on hand at three intervals during the race itself, each time being an incredibly welcome sight!
One huge standout was the zeal of the volunteers; on such a cold day, in such dire conditions, they smiled, encouraged and directed the field with aplomb.
The bling was simple but practical: a green St-Patrick’s-Day-esque beanie. More importantly, the flapjack I got at the end was immense. Would have loved a medal though!
Overall? This is a race I will never forget – a tough course in challenging conditions – but the beauty of the surroundings, the enthusiasm of everyone involved and the sense of achievement at the end just about made it worth it!
Personal running stats
Time – 3:20:56 (slow!)
PBs – Furthest distance ran to date
Report – Found the final two miles especially hard but discovered the phrase, “if you want to run fast go alone, if you want to run far go together!” holds true. A massive thanks to Kate and Clare for getting me round!