Thursday evening saw the last race of the Spring Treble - a series of 3 trail races of approximately 5 miles that take in some of the beautiful Staffordshire countryside. With focusing more on ultra running on the roads this year, I hadn’t planned to do the whole series, so with the choice of either the Kibblestone Clamber or Clayton 10k the day before, I was expecting Norman to suggest Clayton for my tempo run this week. Whichever he decided on, I knew I was in for a hard time as neither of them are particularly easy races, but on past experience, Kibblestone is the most difficult, not just because it’s off-road, but also with it being 3 laps of the scout camp which means 3 times up those very steep and troublesome steps!
I drew the short straw – it was Kibblestone – and whilst I was looking forward to a short faster paced run, I was quite nervous and dreading those steps.
The weather has been very dry of late, but on arrival at Kibblestone Scout Camp, it had turned quite muggy and light rain was falling. However, although there were places that would be a little slippery due to the rain, there was absolutely no mud and conditions underfoot were pretty good.
Following a short warm up, we all gathered at the start line and shortly afterwards we were off. It was quite refreshing running across the grassy fields, particularly with the damp grass, and I actually found myself enjoying the run. It was a fast start for me, but I wanted to beat my time from last year and so tried to keep it going, knowing full well that the steps were coming and I would more than likely end up walking up them.
The short section through the woodland alongside the brook was really nice with all the bluebells out and the birds singing – amazing the things you notice when you are supposed to be racing! – but it really was lovely. Then things started to get tough as we started the short steep climb across the lane and then up the steps.
These steps are steep, and are too high to run 2 at a time, but too short to run up at normal stride length – well for me anyway – and no sooner had I started the ascent , the legs went like lead, the lungs couldn’t expand enough to take in enough oxygen, and the brain was stupidly telling me to walk. My brain won, I started to walk, and sweat was literally running off me due to how warm things were.
I was at this point 3rd lady with fellow team mate Deb Thomas not far behind me, and although I wasn’t really bothered where I finished tonight, I still wanted a half decent run, so with Deb almost literally on my shoulder, I started to run again albeit with difficulty. I knew that Deb would probably catch me on the hills as I really had nothing to give tonight, but also knew that I was probably faster on the flat and downhill, so managed to pull away as soon as I hit the downhill section towards the end of the first lap. I almost took a tumble in the woods as I slipped on some wet leaves , but thankfully managed to avoid any embarrassment and got away unscathed.
The second and third lap were pretty much the same, although with about half a mile to go, I had pulled away from Debs, and was now gaining on the second placed lady but I knew that the chances of me catching her were very slim as we hit the second set of steps again through the woodland. Having slipped yet again on the same stretch of wet leaves, I began the final push to finish line where I crossed the line in 36.50 – just 7 seconds slower than I had ran here last year. Although at the start I was hoping to run slightly quicker than previously, I was content considering all my longer races of late. I had also enjoyed the race despite being tough, and despite feeling that perhaps it was a few hills too many for me this week!
It was great to see that Trentham ladies yet again came away with prizes, with Jayne and Debs finishing 1st and 2nd in the series overall so a massive well done to them two.