On Sunday I took on the challenge of the James Herriot Trail Race, starting at Castle Bolton in Wensleydale.
The race starts in a beautiful spot, with great views to Penhill across the valley and over to Bishopdale. The first few hundred metres are straightforward, a flat lane past the castle, and then the route turns left and heads up a mile of unremitting hillside, the toughest race start I think I have encountered. At the top the route follows the moorland ridge, on a stony track, up the dale in a generally westerly direction with more great views but less time and breath to enjoy them. There is then a descent across Beldon Beck and another sharp incline up to isolated Greenhaw Hut.
From this point, the run becomes a little more friendly, with a longish descent on better paths and then a stretch on good tracks with fewer hills heading back towards Castle Bolton, a loop of around 9 miles in total.
There was a good turn out from Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers, as hoped as this was a club championship race. The encouragement in the last few yards was very welcome, and I was pleased to find at the finish that others had found it tough also. I was partially restored by fish and chips in Leyburn on the way home.
Lessons learned for this route include the necessity for a slow start up the initial steep climb – with another eight miles to go at the top you cannot afford to be too tired there.
Plans for the week ahead: Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers Tuesday night run – hopefully the rain will have stopped!