The sixth annual Whitebrook Windup – my first ever trail race and my first ever race! With a preference for running on trails it was a fitting race to begin with.
Located in the stunning Wye Valley, the course winds along the banks of the River Wye before heading up a steep 600ft climb and culminating with a fast decent through woodland. There are two distances – a 10K single lap and a HM slightly extended two laps.
The course is a circular route with an initial steep climb through woodland followed by a fast descent to the banks of the River Wye. The decent was muddy from rain prior to the race and difficult terrain quickly separated the seasoned trail runners from the beginners, including myself (I didn’t want to fall at the first hurdle).
As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the run along the banks of the Wye was stunning even though it was overcast. Initially a wide open bank, the path narrows to single file making overtaking a little difficult.
The first water station was at a junction with a long wide track which doubled back along the river and offered a chance to pick up some speed and, if you had run the course before, mentally prepare yourself for the long, long climb to the highest point of the course.
The climb is certainly steep but I didn’t find that it was so steep that you couldn’t run up it at a slow pace. I managed to gain around a dozen places over the 2 mile or so ascent. Another water station greeted you at the summit before the equally long descent back down to the start. Winding through woodland, the course became very fast with plenty of obstacles to tackle. Compared with the first descent early in the race I had gained some confidence and keeping up with the other runners in front and maintained a good pace all the way to the finish. One runner a minute or so behind me took her eye off the terrain in front and lost her footing resulting in a nasty knee gash. Unfortunately for her she was doing the HM so had another lap to compete.
With it being my first race and not quite knowing what to expect in terms of the course difficulty it was hard to gauge how well I would do. I crossed the line under an hour at 59’46” and in 21st place out of 65 – a result I was delighted with.