Round Rotherham 50 Mile Trail Race – Event Review
I have wanted to enter this race for many years and for one reason or another never made the start line, whether it was sickness or work commitments, something always seemed to stop me. This year I made it feeling fit and was excited to reach the race HQ very early on Saturday morning. The race is a circular tour of Rotherham mainly sticking to woodland and urban trails and never actually goes into Rotherham Town Centre.
Rotherham Harriers have been running this event for many years and it is regarded as a bit of a classic in ultra-running circles, not because it has big mountains or stunning scenery but because it was one of the first ultra-distance events on the calendar, established in 1993.
The event HQ was at Dearne Valley Sports College with two start times: 6am for walkers and 7am for runners. Considering myself capable of finishing inside the running cut off time of 16 hours I opted for the 7am start, which meant a 4.45am alarm, Ouch COFFEE PLS………………………… The race HQ was put together brilliantly by the Harriers with everything you would need, no queues for numbers or the toilets and happy smiling marshalls and stewards to assist in registration sign in.
With my start time approaching I began to think about my race strategy (maybe a bit late). I decided as I had no idea where I was going and had not run the course before or recced the route that I would sit back a little bit and stay with a group of local runners. At bang on 7am we started, the weather was mild but it was still dark so I opted for a head torch for the first few miles.
The first 6 miles were pretty flat and the running was good. I found myself in a small group of runners including Karen Nash (Legend) which confirmed that I had set off too quickly. Checkpoints were positioned every 6 miles and were well stocked with drinks, snacks and generally great support from the volunteers. At checkpoint 1 I was in good form and moving well, after passing through the group I was running with got lost in some woodland and we had to retrace our steps back on to the course, adding about half a mile… I kept positive!
Now back on track I met up with a couple of runners’ I had run with at previous races, they had travelled down from the North East for this event. We ran together for the next 20 miles or so on some really nice trails, not too technical but really enjoyable. My two running partners then hit some trouble at about 25 miles and had issues with stomach cramps and made the tough decision to drop out of the race. This was a decision I know they didn’t take lightly, but sometimes, common sense has to prevail!
Now running solo I pushed on for the next check point were I had a drop bag filled with some treats and a change of t-shirt as the temperature rose from a chilly morning to a mild midday. At the next checkpoint I met up with Andy a “Rotherham Harrier” and his buddy Ray. We had a chat and I decided it was a good tactic to drop into a group for the final 20 miles of the 50. This proved to be a good move as navigation was really difficult and there local knowledge was invaluable to me.
One of the great things about races of this nature are the people you meet along the journey. I had met two really nice blokes so the next 20 miles went quickly; we discussed and debated all sort of things from Football to the merits of parkrun. At this stage the route covered some stunning country trails and passed through quaint villages on our way to the final checkpoint at 44 miles. At this point Andy and I pushed on, leaving Ray content with a finish inside 12 hours. I had my mind on a 9 hour time. We powered forward picking up jelly babies and a few cheers at the final check point.
The final 6 miles went very quickly but I was glad to be running with Andy as he knew every twist and turn along the way and we pushed on to the finish back at the sports college. We crossed the line together but in all honesty running with Andy pulled me through the last mile or so… I was knackered. At the finish I collected my certificate and badge to certify the accomplishment. My final time was 9 hours and 50 minutes – I was happy!
The event was brilliant and organised with military precision by Rotherham Harriers. I’ll be back next year to shave some time off.
Information on the Round Rotherham 50 can be found here: http://runleeds.co.uk/r/round-rotherham-50/
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