Being the generous brother that I am, I bought two of my three brothers entry to the Hellrunner ‘Hell in the Middle’ trail race, which took place at Belvoir Castle yesterday, for Christmas.
I’ve done a few of the Hellrunner events before, Tom had done one and Joe would have been new to it. As it turned out, an injury meant that Joe had to defer to the 2015 event.
Hellrunner is a trail run of between 10 and 12 miles in length (they never tell you the exact distance) and involves steep, often vertical, hills, waist deep bogs and woodland growth that literally rips your legs open as you bash your way through them. Sounds fun! I decided that this was going to be the substitute for my weekly long run and become part of my training for the Roads to Wembley run.
Tom and I set off from Nottingham at around 8am and arrived at a cold and overcast Belvoir Castle at just after 9am. The other HR events that I have some in the past were much better attended and, at first, we wondered if we had the right date – it was that quiet. As it turned out, there were less than 400 competitors at Belvoir, yet there were over 2000 at the one we ran on Cannock Chase in 2011. That still didn’t ease the 35 minute queue for one of the eight portaloos that were available to the runners, organisers and spectators. The only poor piece of planning over the whole event.
The race started at 10:15am (it was delayed to allow the huge toilet queue to work its way through the facilities) and we hit off at an easy pace, which was what we planned. It was fairly standard cross country running for the first 3 or so miles until we were diverted off dry land, through a hefty bramble patch and were detoured through the edge of a lake, eliminating any chance of staying dry.
A few miles of running hill slaloms, running through a marquee (with a ridiculously bass heavy Firestarter by Prodigy blaring out) and vaulting logs followed until we were forced off the trails and into a small quarry. Probably the only truly dangerous part of the route where we had to run across uneven, jagged rocks. I could here Tom behind me muttering, “this is fucking ridiculous”… Shortly after this followed the Hellrunner’s infamous hills of hell.
Our pace slowed here, but I was still feeling relatively decent. I thought it’d be funny to wind Tom up, so I waited at the top of the bigger hill doing some press ups. I regretted it instantly, but got some great jock points under my belt.
One more mile of undulating hills took us to the last challenge of the run, known to the event as the Bog of Doom. The thickest, blackest water I’ve ever seen in my life. The lad ahead of us got stuck and only managed to free himself after Tom declared that, “Bear Grylls says you need to twist”. After that it was a mere 200m to the finish line, which we finished relative ease at a time of about 1 hour and 39 minutes. We finished about 50th of the 400 runners.
We were so disgustingly dirty from the bogs, that we decided to take a swim in the lake, which was situated next to the finish line. I think it says something about the run you’ve done when it’s actually a good idea to swim around in muddy water on an overcast day and the temperature is just 12 degrees just to clean yourself.
The run can be difficult at times, but it’s a great event in a truly beautiful part of the East Midlands. What’s more is that it served as a great bit of fun training ahead of the Roads to Wembley run. I would encourage anyone thinking of taking part to do so, whether it be Hell in the South, North or in the middle. I’ll be sure to do it again next year, especially if they keep this particular event at Belvoir Castle.
You’ll also notice that we were supporting a charity called Shelterbox, which sends aid to areas of the world hurt by natural disasters. Tom had a serious operation on his abdomen last year and has spent his time since then recovering with an aim to run a half marathon in Norway this June. The Midnight Sun Half Marathon starts at midnight, but the sun doesn’t set at that time of year so it’ll still be daylight – how cool is that?! Anyway, Shelterbox is his chosen charity for the run and you can sponsor him here.
Until next time.