I think I’ve discovered a new favourite thing – running through a muddy forest at night!
Rogue Runs: Mallards Pike
Sounding much like a Hollywood movie, Rogue Runs: Mallards Pike is the first in the 2016/2017 series of night races from Rogue Runs, the organisers of the Severn Bridge Half Marathon. Having loved the Ghost Run in Cardiff in October I was keen to try another head torch run even if it was an hour’s drive away.
The race took place at Go Ape Outdoor Activities in the heart of the Forest of Dean, an ancient woodland that is incredibly scenic during the daytime and even at the dark of night it feels a very special place as you drive through it.
The 5-country-miles route leaves Go Ape and heads around Mallard Pike pond. At the other end of the pond the sight of a line of head torches snaking their way around the dark pond was something and I wish I could have stopped to take a photo. The same was for the head torches heading up the first long climb and the beams peeking through the gaps between the trees.
Various muddy climbs take you up around 400ft over around 1.5 miles. Nearing the top you can pick up some speed winding through the forest and then there are some long and fast downhill sections along forest paths.
Apart from the odd trail and the path around the pond, the course is off road with some lengthy muddy sections, trees to dodge, roots to skip over and the odd ditch to leap over. Then, in the last kilometre there is a knee deep water hazard which completely by surprise (Pro shots featuring the water hazard). ‘Run to the wall’, I thought I heard the marshal shout as we neared the water. Leaving the water obstacle it’s a squelchy run around the pond again to the finish line.
This was my first Rogue Runs event and it was a superbly organised race. Being located in a pitch black forest, the entrance to the car park was well sign posted with reflective signs and marshals helping you find a place to park.
Registration takes place in a heated marquee which is perfect for keeping warm whilst waiting for the race to start. The race director gave a very comedic but detailed briefing describing course conditions, distance and a warning to avoid the wild boar that apparently can smell the fear of nighttime trail runners.
The route is ‘marked to death’ with hundred of reflective markers, arrows, tape and a skeleton hanging from a tree. In addition to the marshals and everyone’s torches plus sweeper runners, you’d be hard pushed to get lost out there. In the Ghost Run I managed to get lost twice!
Race Route and Profile