Having got a wee glimpse of the Cheviots doing the Yetholm Race on a gorgeously warm day in the summer, the Wooler Trail Marathon appealed as a way to see more of the trails and hills in the area. This new race by Trail Outlaws is a bit over marathon distance at 28.5 miles (45.2km) and has a little over 6000ft ascent making is either a tough marathon or a long hill race. The route goes out over Cheviot, joins the Pennine Way, then follows St Cuthberts Way back to Wooler making the route 98% on trails, and Pennine bog.
An 0800 start from Wooler YOHO meant an early wake-up call and a foggy drive along roads at -5.5C according to the car. With my son Finlay having the final league winning game or the pre Xmas rugby season kicking-off at 1400 I hoped for a good run and maybe catch the last 20 minutes of the game. This idea was dashed when we started late and the race time estimate from the organiser was double your marathon time and take off an hour. Carnethy’s were few and I only saw Myvany Fenton May with Derek Paton registered. A few Harmony folk were there with Seona Burnett running.
I set off too fast as usual and held 2nd position till the first hill! It was very cool and frosty still and the trails mostly frozen and quite icy. Cheviot was in the clag and there was no view, just great frosting and the sun peaking through the mist for a while. A rutted peat climb led to a great paved path across the top, but too quickly led to the bog sections along the Pennine Way which were really tough with intermittent rutted frozen footprints and unavoidable creaking ice with regular breaking-through into the c-c-c-c-cold water below. Later runners would have a horrid time of these sections once the frozen bits broke up. I took it easy and lost places to save my knees. Miles 10-13 were the worst then things improved a bit. The last leg along St C’s Way was quicker and more runnable with the odd climb to check your sense of humour. The final views down to Wooler in its frosted autumn colours were great.
A good race in a fine area with good interesting route making a fun race. The time estimate turned out to be quite accurate based on my D33 (flattest marathon) time with a finishing time of 5hr 43mins. Seona was a little after me but I legged it back to Megggetland before Myv FM came in, and arrived after the final whistle to hear of thumping 123-0 win to the Boroughmuir U15 and wining of their league.
Results will be up here: http://www.trailoutlaws.com/wooler-results-2016.php