Trail Pursuit – Lake District May ’22 recap

So where to begin? Trail Pursuit was set up only 18 months ago and I supported the event last year as a tail runner. I therefore had a free ticket for use this year – selecting the Mountain Marathon with a friend who was taking on this type of race for the first time.

In Trail Pursuits own words “Trail Pursuit is inclusive for beginner & experienced trail runners alike.” However this was much further from the truth that MANY MANY people (including myself and my running buddy) found out

The (Half) Marathon Route

All the routes were changed just a couple of days before the race – in truth, I didn’t really take much notice, however I did find the original route which was 42km and a total elevation gain of 1400m. The new marathon route was now two loops of the half marathon 24km with a total elevation gain of 1700m – with two loops – 48km and 3400m elevation gain!

It took us 8 hours to complete the first loop (there was a 5 hour cut off to complete the first loop) and marshals were on course only for 9 hours. Maybe we weren’t experienced enough? Of the 100+ participants, only 27 made the cut off for the first lap and only 10 finished within the 9 hours time limit

For the half marathon, the final participant finished in 12:40:48 and for the 10km route – the final participant came in over 9 hours

Don’t believe me? You can check all the timings here via AV TIMINGS

Too challenging to be for “beginners”

Basically all the routes were FAR TOO challenging and even for a 5 / 10km route, this should have been more set up for inexperienced runners – no way should a 10km route take any more than say 3 hours and that is being totally generous – any normal 10km at walking pace can be completed in 2 hours.

The half marathon route which we took was also too challenging with very little “real” running – I would suggest around a total of 5km running across the route from the total of 24km. Too many steep uphill sections and even the descents were too technical to run safely, especially the final descent which was just loose shale. There was only one aid station at around 14km. Not a huge amount of food for selection (this is fine, we were told to bring our own). But the totally unhygienic way of filling water bottles (in a post pandemic world) was totally inexcusable – the volunteers were just taking the water bottles and dipping it (wrist first) into a large water bowser. Trail Pursuit could have at least purchased a few water jugs to help ensure fingers, hands or wrists into the large water bowsers

Positives of the route? Just a few I guess – The views! Absolutely stunning views across Buttermere and the Lake District. Secondly, I managed to bag my first three Waintwrights.

A bit about the festival

The festival area was pretty cool (note, I stayed in a hotel so didn’t camp or stay around in the festival too long) A number of food vendors, live DJ, Cinema, presentations and Yoga was all on offer as part of the festival.

The festival was part of the running ticket. Talking about costs, parking was extra – £15 for the weekend per car, camping and SHOWERS were £15 extra – even though these weren’t policed and basically anyone could shower. There were a number of complaints about the low number of toilets compared to participants – fortunately I didn’t need to use the facilities

Final Thoughts – aka A Warning

Hopefully all of the above is very much a warning – its really worth checking out the Facebook and Instagram comments (although they have been deleting the negative comments!).

If someone had told me that the half marathon route was a great hiking route with stunning views, I would have really enjoyed this race. But it wasn’t set up that way – too technical and not enough running. The 10km equally so!

Don’t do this race if it’s your first trail run, no matter what the advertising puff says on their website. If you are experienced and love a good challenging route, then Trail Pursuit could be the race for you. However, for anyone else, I would suggest looking at other races such as Lakeland Trails and Love Trails.

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Wil Chung