May 30, 2016

Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon

Royal Windsor River Trail Run

Before I start with my post, can we just take a moment to appreciate how very angry I look in my ‘after race’ photo? I’m definitely turning my back on ‘perfect race shots‘ and I’m a very happy person.

Back in December 2015 I was very fortunate to win a competition from Miss Wheezy (Aka Beki) which included a race entry. Keen to schedule in a half marathon I chose the ‘Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon’, I’d never ran more than a 10km trail race before and fancied a challenge.

After months of training, with some results I was really pleased with, all of a sudden race day had crept up on me. We travelled to the area the night before, as I wanted a reasonable nights sleep before the event. Just on that note, we got a cracking deal on a very pleasant ‘Holiday Inn’ all of 10 minutes away, this might be worth keeping in mind for anyone else planning to race in the area.

We popped out for dinner, allowing me to carb load with a gloriously large bowl of pasta and had an early night ready for the 8.30am start.  I woke up early and was surprised by the sudden change in weather, naturally sunshine is always more appealing than rain!

Here’s what I liked about the event:

*It was my third half marathon – Hurrah for me!

*The course was very flat, this is ideal for someone who struggles with hills (aka me!)

*The starting point had plenty of toilets, there were also plenty of drinks and food stalls for spectators.

*The course was very well signed and the location was beautiful, I really enjoyed having a complete change from my normal road running.

This is what I disliked about the event:

*The event was meant to start in waves according to finish time, however, this changed; meaning the front runners started first and the rest of us started in no particular order. They also started the 10km runners early, this caused a massive bottle neck in two places and we ended up walking most of the first 1km.

*The path was too small to handle the number of runners for the first 6/7km they had made a huge mistake not easing people off slowly. The reason It caused so much bother was because it was single or double file for most of the first 9km over ground that was flat, but you had to be reasonably aware of your footing and this made over taking frustrating.

*The first water station was at 7km, however, due to the fact the volunteers were having to fill water cups on demand there was a queue just to get a drink. Unfortunately, this happened at every station, I should have taken my own water but the unexpected heat caught me out a little.

*As this was a trail race, there were a few points where we had to wait or slow right down to pass through gates along the course. Whilst I don’t mind this, I felt that the constant stopping and starting played havoc with my pace, again this is just a personal reflection.

*I later learnt that many people felt pushed around/unsafe at the start of the race, also that the event organisers were deleting/blocking people who made negative comments about the race. This is not something I’m at all comfortable with and I don’t feel it’s a fair behaviour, for more information you may wish to read these ‘Runners World’ comments.

If I entered this race again, what would I do differently?

*If they decided not to set people off in waves again, I would have waited until the last few people started. Why? Because It was chip timed and this would have given me more space over the first 9km to run slowly and ease in and I would aim for a negative split as the second part is much kinder.

*I would wear Capri’s – My faithful Nike shorts failed me and my thighs were bleeding! I know, I’m over sharing..

*I would have also taken my own water bottle, again this is personal to me and my preferences but there was not enough water for such a warm day.

What about my time? Oh, folks, It was a personal worst at 2.12.47 (Average pace was 10.07mm) and a lot slower than I’d ran in training but hey, a record is a record right? Once I’d gotten over my ‘bottle neck rage’ I took my time, stopped for all the water and focused on just finishing.

With thanks to G for taking these photo’s, waiting for me and driving me home even though I stunk (again – more over sharing!) and I was in a bit of a disappointed mood. Also thanks to Rob for creating my training plan, Beki & F3 for the event entry and all the lovely folk who wished me well!

Have you ever ran a trail race before? Does trail running appeal?



You might enjoy reading:

*Training for my third half marathon

*I ran a virtual Half Marathon and loved it

9 responses to “Royal Windsor Trail Half Marathon”

  1. Oh wow, I read just the first page of the Runners World reviews and it’s obvious that this could have been beautiful, but they messed it up really badly. I never did a trail race, but I would probably start with a 5k, maybe 10.
    I would normally say “Well done, time is not important, what matters is that you had fun”, but I don’t think you did :))

    • cakevsscales says:

      It was such a lovely area and I wish I’d enjoyed it, but it was the most stressful HM of my life. I do try and see the best in everything, however I did struggle in places 🙂 There’s always next time! 🙂

  2. misswheezy says:

    Aw I’m so sorry the race wasn’t enjoyable for you! I ran it as my first half marathon a couple of years ago, and to be honest it was just as disorganised then but I was with my two brothers and we just took our time and enjoyed the views. Such a shame as it could be an amazing race!

    • cakevsscales says:

      I am still very thankful I ran and thank you again for the entry 🙂 Sometimes, it’s nice just to take it slow and soak the whole event up! If I was ever to return, I would certainly do this, start as late as possible and just enjoy myself 🙂 x

  3. Steph says:

    I am sorry you didn’t enjoy this one so much. I took a look at the RW reviews, and I am really surprised that they haven’t sorted it out after so many years!

  4. Helen says:

    That sounds like a pretty good time to me on a trail, especially with those obstacles. Just been reading the reviews – what a shame as it is no doubt beautiful.

    I love the angry photo 🙂

    • cakevsscales says:

      Auw Thanks Helen – Sometimes I think I’m just too hard on myself, I do seriously hope they make the small changes to improve this race. That photo is still making me chuckle right now! 🙂

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