Sunday, 17 October 2010

Turbo X Race Report

Ran the Salomon Turbo X trail race near Sheffield this morning. Damned hard work.

I ran it last year when it was held in September following a dry spell and pushed myself fairly hard, but not all out. I then finished in 1:48:03 for what is an 11.1 mile course.

Now, compared to a road race I know that's very, very slow but some of the uphill sections (and its all hills) were so steep that they had to be climbed on all fours, and the man made muddy sections could only really be walked if you wanted any chance of staying upright. Overall that put me in 95th place from about 400 runners.

This year it was the same course but it had a very different character - a wet and muddy one! Last year a lot of the narrow trails were very uneven but they were dry, this year they were constant mud and deep puddles and even with Innov8s on I was slipping and sliding quite a bit.

I'd pretty much made the decision not to race it just to complete it but after setting off was starting to reconsider but a mile or so in fate intervened to make the decision for me. The runners in front abruptly veered left along a muddy beck down a heavily wooded valley but after about a minute I heard a lot of shouting that we'd gone the wrong way so we had to turn round and climb back to the main path, by which time 100 or so runners must have gone past and I'd guess that I'd lost about 3 minutes. With that 95% of the desire to race was gone.

I carried on and for the first 5 miles or so the route generally followed wide forestry commission tracks up and down steep and long hills as well covering maybe 2 miles of undulating forest trails littered with tree branches, roots, mud, becks, rocks and holes. along one of these I nearly went over when I decided to plow straight through a big puddle rather than pick around it and found it to be a whole lot deeper than I'd expected.

At 5 miles came the first big challenge: 'Ayers Rock' a very long, very steep slope made of red mud. My guess is that it climbed straight up for about 200m at a 60 degree incline as it was only really possible to climb on all fours. Even at that pace it was far more draining than the running had been and at the end of it my Achilles tendons felt about an inch longer.

What followed for the next 3 miles was a series of long steep climbs, muddy descents on treacherous paths and very occasional stretches back on forestry tracks. In addition there was my favourite bit - 100m+ of steep descent down a very rocky but generally mud free path where I could switch the breaks off and hurtle down fell runner style past about 15 people. I love bits like that as most people fight the hill and try and brake whereas I'm happy to take more risks with the route or line I take and can really fly down. Very exhilarating stuff.

At somewhere just after 8 miles we entered the 'Turbo Zone' a mile of obstacles that's timed in addition to the main chip timing. This bit consisted of a lot of mud, bogs, river crossings, barriers and what I'd guess was about 400m of mud and water filled trench that smelled awful and regularly came close to waist height causing 'runners' to have to wade slowly through it. That mile took me over 22 minutes.

After that it was undulating woodland trail with the usual becks, mud, tree roots, rocks etc, one longish drag uphill then back round some fields for the final uphill half mile to the finish.

I was feeling pretty tired by then and had no desire to put on a spurt. I was slowly catching the guy in front and I'm pretty sure I could have gone past him had the desire been there but it wasn't and there was nobody within a minute of me behind so nobody to push me either.

Finishing time was 1:54:39 so over 6 minutes slower than last year, but if I take into account the detour that cost 3 minutes or so and the muddy, slippy conditions its probably comparable: about 20 seconds a mile slower if you ignore the 3 lost minutes, which would easily be accounted for by the mud and the less race orientated approach. Happy enough.

I'm fairly knackered now but probably not as much as I was after last year's. Although I may tell a different story in the morning...


Just a Girl said...

That race sounds frickin' awesome! Well done Rob, great time :D

Laura said...

Great race, it sounds really tough but sounds like you ran well!

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