Perseverance in Lancaster……

Hanging on in there with the mini Beast from the East at the Trimpell 20 mile race.

I’d done this race last year so I saw it as a good test to see where my fitness was at in comparison to last year. I had been feeling fitter in the run up to the race so I was hoping for an improvement on last years’ time.

Unlike last year we did not stay in Bri the Campervan the night previously. I was planning on driving there and back on the day but instead Kate and I decided to stay over the in a hotel in Lancaster the night before. This was at Kate’s suggestion as I have been known to be a bit grumpy and stressy on race day.

So we headed up to Lancaster late on Saturday afternoon and got to our hotel for tea time. I picked the hotel on proximity to race HQ, race start/finish area and car park. If you ever stay in Lancaster I can very highly recommend the Toll House Inn. We had a good night’s stay, a very good evening meal and a decent breakfast. I got all my kit ready nice and early, had a good feed then headed back the room for a foam roll and an early night.


We was first up to Breakfast in the hotel (I like to eat around 2-3 hours before a bit run) then due to the 11am race start I had plenty of time to head down to the race HQ for number collection. Walking down to get my number in the icy gold and strong easterly wind I was questioning my sanity. Staying over in the hotel was a god send though. After collecting my number I headed back there to get race ready, stretched and warmed up in to comfort of my hotel room away from the cold wind and light snow outside. I think this was one of the only races in England to be still on, most others across the country had been called off due to snow and ice. I didn’t know if I should be happy or gutted about this!

After check out and leaving our stuff in the car Kate and I headed towards the race HQ. I was pretty well layered up as you can see.


After de-snooding and leaving some stuff with Kate I followed the throng down to the race start area. As last year the start of this race was a bit confusing. There was a start banner marked on the a path next to some playing fields (and apparently the only section of ice on the whole route) so runners just congregated around there before following a marshal down another path before being held for a short while. There was plenty of confused runners wondering when to hit the go button on the old Garmin. I just waited till people started moving then I hit start. I guess it doesn’t matter too much on a 20 mile run that people are generally using for a spring Marathon practice.

The first mile heading out was pretty crowded and I was pretty desperate for a wee so I found a suitable spot just before one mile was up. Because of the slow 1st mile (9.09) I made up for it in the second (8.07) before settling down in to a rhythm of around 8.30-8.45 so, which I kept up till around mile 14 (more on this later). I wanted to run this race “at pace” for sub 4 hour marathon to see how I felt, and this pace felt fairly comfortable for much of the route.

I was also using this race to test my fuelling strategy for London. My plan was to alternate every 30 mins between High5 gels and Tribe trail mix every 30 minutes. I am ok with the gels but after too many of them they tend to get sickly and I like “eating” something on these long runs so I figure I’d try some trail mix.

The first three miles of the race headed out towards Morecambe so the mini beast’s wind was on our backs if anything here. The route then turned back towards Lancaster then picking up the path next to the River Lune.

We would stick with this path for a while now, and I was getting in to a steady rhythm and enjoying Huey Morgan’s 6 Music radio show from Saturday. This is now my go-to listen for my long runs. Huey’s mix of hip-hop, soul and funk is a great listen and it allowed my mind to wander as parts of this route can be pretty monotonous.

We were probably shielded from the mini beast’s wind till around mile 8 after the route passes under the M6 then opened up a bit more in to face of the easterly wind. You could really start to feel this much more from mile 9 or so but here the route has its most scenic section near the “Crook o’Lune” so it was something nice to look at least. This bit up to the turning point in the course (mile 9-11) was a bit of a slog going against the wind and I was looking forward to running back towards Lancaster with the wind at my back.

Once turned around I was feeling pretty good running back down the way we just came, wind helping along the way. I even stopped to take a couple of quick photos at the “Crook o’Lune” as it was one of the few parts of the route truly worthy for a scenic photo.



At this point I thought I’d cracked it. After doing this run last year I figured I has home and hosed and I just needed to follow the path back in to Lancaster. You can see how happy I am in the main image above. I don’t know how I didn’t notice a big chunk missed of the start of the course! Well, this was put back in at the 14 mile point.

The marshal (who was in shorts – I only know of one other man who would wear shorts in that weather – crazy!) signalled a turn and the route headed up a rather sharp uphill point heading over a bridge (where the cross wind was pushing you back towards the barrier!) and up on to the Lancaster – Morecambe bypass. A sharp incline gaining about 120ft in half a mile. Just what you want coming to mile 15. At least the wind was at our backs going up this hill but this section of the course was VERY exposed and did not feel very nice at all. After hitting the peak on this bit the course dropped another 70ft or so before another turning point. A BIG shout to out the marshal here, she must have been stood there for hours in the most exposed bit of the course. Truly horrific conditions to be stood around in.

Now this is where it got really tough. Heading back up hill against the mini-beast’s strong, freezing cold wind was super hard. It was just a matter of grin and bear it. Then once we got to the peak again and headed downhill it seemed even harder and even more exposed as the wind felt like it was forcing me back up hill. What in the blue hell was this? This wasn’t here last year! I really had to dig in here finally getting back over the bridge, past the marshal in his shorts and back on to the river path back towards Lancaster. That section really was one of the toughest three miles I can ever remember running.


Trimpell Hell 2

Trimpell Hell 1
The hellish bypass section

I had hoped to have something left in my legs for these last few miles but the bypass blue hell had zapped out any energy I had left from my legs. It was just a matter of perseverance and hanging on in there but try as I might I couldn’t get my pace back under 9 min miles.

Now it was time to switch from Huey’s show back to my own playlist to get some focus back. I knew from the previous year that the last climb back up to Lancaster Castle was coming so I just stuck it in there, kept moving along and finally the end was in sight and I was back on the road round the back of the castle.

The nasty final hill

Then here it was that final steep climb up to the finish. A nasty sting in the tail at the end of 20 tough miles, I just had to keep pushing on up the hill before finally turning up towards the castle gates then I give as much as I could to a “sprint” finish, crossing the line in 2.58.23.

The “Sprint” finish


I stumbled back towards where Kate was waiting for me, got my customary post-race photos then tried to keep warm and headed back to the car. (On the way back to the car I got the most horrific cramping in my left calf which is till painful a few days later. I hope I’ve not pulled a muscle!).

As usual a massive thanks to Kate for persevering at these things and supporting me! She had everything ready for me (drinks, coats, food etc) at the end. Three hours is a long time to hang around waiting for someone in this weather.

A few things that I’ll take away from the run. I was the lone Widnes Running Club member at this race, but I got a lot of love from runners of other clubs with shouts of “Come on Widnes” from people wearing club colours of Warrington, Penny Lane, Liverpool and Blackburn! This is always appreciated, especially when you’re struggling.

My fuelling strategy – the Tribe Trail mix tasted good, but when I was tired I couldn’t be bothered opening the pack and trying to stuff nuts and seeds in to my mouth. I just relied on the extra High5 gels I took out. I’ll try something different next time.

I felt fitter coming in to the race that I did last year and I think my time showed this. I was a full 10 minutes quicker than the previous year. I think this was a much tougher course too (mile 14-17 almost broke me!), so I’m happy with getting sub 3 hours. I hope this is a good indicator of getting a sub 4 hour marathon at London.

Next up is the final “London Warm Up”, the Gloucester 20 mile on 25th March. This will be as far as I get distance wise, then at last the taper can being and I can start reducing the mileage for these long runs. I’ll be thankful for that!

Peace and Love.

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One thought on “Perseverance in Lancaster……

  1. Great running mate. Another incredibly detailed race report with plenty of humour too 👍🏃 take care of that calf!! Terrorvision takes me back, I had an imprint of a Doctor Martins sole only face for a week after a particularly raucous gig at Northampton Roadmenders back in 199something


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