‘Probably one of the toughest uphill miles in the country’
Billed as one of the toughest uphill miles in the country, the pain-inducing Murder Mile climbs around 700ft along a country lane before finishing in a local farm. The race has been run since at least 1994 and in 2009 it as decided that the course just wasn’t tough enough anymore so was switched to a steeper route.
I was arriving from Newport so the route would involve driving up the Murder Mile. The narrow lane gradually gets steeper as it ascends and eventually reaches a point where you have to switch to first gear. If the car was struggling, my legs would too! I had a feeling that I’d found the point where I would switch from running to walking.
Registration was near the finish line so we would have to descend down to the start which proved to be quite tough on the legs. Forever trying to slow yourself down was really working the legs.
Retracing the route I’d driven up I was surprised that the start wasn’t at the bottom of the road, rather the route continued off down another steep lane. And it got worse. The start would be on the base of a hill which led to a short flat section then it was uphill all the way.
Just How Murderous is it?
The aim was to get as far as I could before converting to power hiking. I took the first hill easy, had a brief recovery on the flat then onto the main event. My legs held up well to start with and was breathing well but I could feel myself heating up and breathing was getting heavier. Passing the halfway point I was still running but the steepest section was still to come. Periodically checking my watch for distance I managed to make it to 0.65 miles before I had slowed down so much that it was more efficient to power hike for a section and recover.
By 0.75 miles the first runners were probably crossing the line and I was just hitting the steepest section. The course record is an unbelievable 8:04 which is faster than many people can run on the flat. I’m sure if you were to go flat out on the 150 yard flat section at the bottom and again at the top you’d get a much better time.
After a stint of power hiking I had recovered enough for a bit of running but it was tough and I was soon walking again. With the turning point into the farm and the finish line in sight, and with spectators cheering runners on I attempted to run again (you can’t walk near the finish!). The last 150 yards is a track to the finish line and I tried for a sprint finish but had nothing left.
Hill Conquered in 11:49
I made it! 11:49 for my first attempt and I was happy with that. I had no idea how long it would take me to get up there and I’m sure that if it was a race that mattered I could have forced myself to run a little more at the top but I was here to have fun and enjoy the experience.
Your reward for reaching the top was a bottle of beer which I would have loved to have had but due to being on antibiotics I had to make do with a cup of water and some Haribo.
There are far steeper off road races such as the The Alpine Climb which took place not too far away the following day but this road climb was steep enough to be featured by Runners World as one of the top 10 hardest races and Running Fitness as one of the top 5 hilliest races.