Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Washington Trail 10k – 2017

on 28 April 2017

The Trail Outlaws organise a series of ‘Urban Trail’ races from 10k to half marathon around the North-East (and if you fancy it, right up to the 100+ miles marker not for some of us mere mortals!), and this race around Washington is rapidly becoming a regular feature in my running calendar – so when I heard J was doing again this year (straight after night shift she was that keen!), I couldn’t leave her to go by herself! It also meant I might have half a chance of keeping up with her if I caught her when she would be already too tired for any sane person to consider going for a 10k run in the hills…

I don’t know if one of the Trail Outlaws guys has a deal with the weather for this one, but I don’t think I’ve done it when it hasn’t been blue skies and sunshine, or not far off it! This is appreciated in one respect because the riverside and the woods look fantastic in the sunshine when the flowers are coming out, and it makes you really appreciate the shade, but it also means that you cook when you’re going up the hills in the first half which are a bit more exposed…

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There are several loops to this race, passing through a common marshalling and refreshments area where there’s always a ready supply of drinks – water and cola this time – and if you’re lucky there might still be some jelly babies left even by your third time through! There are always several marshalls here handing out drinks, and it’s great to see the kids getting involved handing out beakers and giving power-up high-fives to all who pass through – no matter how many times they’ve seen you already! You come downhill from the start to join the river and start your first lap after passing through this area (Time 1), heading up through the woods and towards the main road before coming back down again to the clearing (Time 2). From here, you head out across a footbridge, up a hill (there’s quite a few of them) and across the stile at the top.

The marshall here will assure you that it flattens out from here. This is a lie. The next half a mile is a much gentler incline to be sure, but it is still very much up.You’re still on wide-ish woodland trails here, then across a horses’ field (occupied!) via 2 kissing gates and a stile to join an old railway path, which you will then go up (seeing a theme here?) some sleeper steps and cross via a bridge before running along a road(ish) to join the woods again. If you’re lucky there’ll be a waving Ninja marshall dressed as St. George here. The next section is much more woodland trails – narrow with lots of weavey bits and tree roots – your’s truly nearly went on her face twice and poor J did take a tumble when I suspect tired feet didn’t quite clear the ground enough. Her watch was ok though and apparently this is the important thing…priorities?!

Finally – there will be one downhill towards the river again and a gorgeous long stretch along its route in the shade passing under the Victoria Viaduct and further along to the first footbridge you crossed. Back through the clearing (Time 3) and you’re going back the way you came to the finish. Sadly, this also includes the massive hill you came down at the start…It’s very important on this hill, which many of us – let’s face it – will walk at least part of even if we’ve managed to soldier round the rest, to at least pretend that you’re running with your arms when you see the tactically positioned photographer halfway up so that noone will ever know!!!

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It’s impossible to get lost on this course – there are signs, bits of tape and marshalls, marshalls, marshalls everywhere! Everyone cheers you on and the support really gets you round this tough race. I’m a big fan of trail running over road running as I find it a lot more interesting and like to nature watch while I’m out – and there’s plenty of opportunity for that here if you’re not too busy watching your feet (or falling on your face! But hey, there might be a stag beetle down there I guess?!).

You’ll get treated to some really good swag at the end of a Trail Outlaws race and this one was no exception – a seriously hefty dog tag medal, T-O buff thing and bracelet, and there was a car sticker but you can’t see that because my car windows are absolutely FILTHY at the moment and I don’t love you enough to clean them πŸ˜‰

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Just to give an idea of scale for the dog tag, I’ve also pictured it was last year’s, which were more of a conventional size but still satisfyingly weighty.

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There are several other races available in the Urban Trail series (10k’s for us mere humans who can’t do 120 miles in one go), though I confess I’ve yet to try them! I’ve got my eye on the Branches and Bays one but haven’t quite worked up the bottle for Penshaw Monument yet! I know Consett is well known for its hills but that doesn’t mean I relish them all πŸ˜‰

map

You can download a GPX file including map and elevation data from Dropbox by following the link below:

Washington Trail 10k route file

If you’d like to read my previous year’s reviews you can find them here: 2015, 2016

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