I am proud to say that I am one of the top 50 finishers in the first ever Dalby Forest No Ego Challenge!
As my first trail race I wasn’t sure what to expect but within the first half a mile I knew it wasn’t going to be like any other half-marathon I had experienced.
The hills were relentless and we grappled with loose rocks on steep descents and tired not to lose our trail shoes whilst wading through muddy bogs.
My friend Jim picked me up at about 8.30am and we made our way to the picturesque Dalby Forest which took us just over an hour. Registration was quick and easy and once we had our number it was time to get a few pictures before a brief warm up and a pre-race talk. We were told to let those who were “going big” to go first as after about 100m the path narrowed to single file.
Our strategy was to try and run nine minute miles which we worked out would get us in at 1 hour 57 minutes. However shortly after setting off we realised that it might be a struggle.
Within the first mile we hit the first climb which was almost impossible to run up. Small and steady steps Jim assured me, which actually turned out to be a pretty good strategy but I saw at least a couple of people walking up every hill we were faced with. Trying to make up time after the hills was almost impossible too as the flat stretch afterwards was used for recovery rather than for speed.
However the route itself was amazing. Flying down winding banks through the forest, navigating your way over fallen trees and through muddy bogs made this the best race I’ve ever been a part of.
That said though, it was one hell of a challenge and without Jim I definitely would’ve struggled a lot more. At times you’re running solo and as someone who is used to the cheering of crowds during a road race I can imagine that if you were running alone and were not a seasoned trail runner it could be quite lonely.
Another difference is that you have to give the terrain your full concentration for the duration of the race. You can’t switch off the same way you might do on the roads. If you’re not paying attention to your footing one wrong move could see you coming down on your ankle.
Dalby Forest was the perfect setting for it though and like any other race, all of the runners were supporting each other which was fantastic. It was also interesting to know that even some of the seasoned trail runners taking part were not doing it for a time, something which took me a while to adjust to I must admit.
The muddier we got though the more fun I began to have and whizzing through the forests and breathing in that wonderful earthy smell was just fantastic.
The final hurdle was a killer hill before a sprint finish across the line to come in at just under two hours at 2hrs28mins and the 11th lady to finish. Not bad for my first trail half-marathon I’d say, especially considering that we stopped twice to try and get rid of my persistent pins and needles in my left foot/leg and stopped to drink at every water station.
The feeling in my legs afterwards was nothing like that after a half-marathon road race either and I definitely felt as though I had worked a lot harder. It was such a great feeling though and I am definitely going to sign up to another trail challenge in the future. But until then it’s time to soak the blisters in TCP and Savlon in the hope that they recover in time for this weekends Adidas Thunder Run!
Keep your eyes peeled for the official pictures as well which I will post on here when they’re out.