This should be called a Trial which is exactly what it is. Absolute hell from start to finish and that’s why I’ve done them all bar one since they started some 30 years ago. Must be mad I guess but to be in such beautiful forests makes it all worth-while. From the high points you can see 7 counties in England and Wales so what more can a man want? Maybe a few more in Wales?
It starts from the lovely Moor Park School just outside Ludlow then you just go upwards for ½ a mile into the forest trails and tracks. They were all just slippery mud trails and getting a grip was impossible. This continued for the whole course. Then at 1 mile comes the Poison Bank-a neo vertical ascent for about ¼ mile that took me 25 mins. Again just muddy slopes so hell on earth came to mind.
At least at the top of the bank it had to be flat or downhill as you were at the highest point. Two diversions then took place because trees had fallen all over one trail and Goshawks were nesting on another so thankfully they were not disturbed. Trouble was-yes you’ve guessed it-the diversions were uphill!
So we plodded on following the gravity waterway which gets water from the Elan Valley in Powys all downhill to Birmingham. Don’t we Welsh love the Brummies. They’ve never paid us for it since 1892!
Then at half way are the Big Dippers (3 up and 3 down almost vertically) covering less than a mile but taking about 30 mins to do it. In fact on the neo vertical 3 uphill climbs I was on all fours as it was easier than keeping upright. And yes again all mud so downhill was almost impossible unless you “bummed” it down.
After a couple of hours out there we were at 7 miles so the end was in sight –well in theory anyway. A few more ups and downs then the final descent through Mary Knoll Valley to the finish in the Forest and a 5 minute walk back to the school.
This used to be a 10 miler but to attract more sensible runners it was reduced to a 9 miler a couple of years ago. They took out one huge final climb towards the end so it’s meant to be easier. Hmm.
In all there are 1200 feet of ascent but superbly well marshalled. At 4 miles one poor chap had collapsed and several runners were looking after him and soon an ambulance came screaming down the forest track to assist. Hope he made it OK. Felt like joining him when I saw him mind you.
The good thing is that it’s good to have “time on your feet” before the marathons start and this was proof of that. In my case it was “on feet and hands”.
Two Sphinx runners were there so again I ask let’s have some Massey bods there next time. It’s always held in mid-December but as the weather was so bad it was postponed ‘till today so well done Ludlow Running Club. See you all there in Dec this year then-no brainer or what?
David Phillips 2hrs 32 mins.