I love/hate this trail half marathon, it’s right on my doorstep for one and takes in a lot of the great scenery we have in Leighton Buzzard, but it catches me out every time. You head out along the canal for a good few miles, and it is fast and furious.
I always feel great, running well, legs flying nicely, breathing is good, I can about see the leaders, and am working my way through the crowd, feeling cocky and then I get to the Three Locks pub and remember what is to come and realise I have gone out WAY to fast! Ran it twice and done that twice, what was it that Einstein said about stupidity, doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result!
Lets tick off the important stuff. Registration is really easy, as is booking a ticket. They have been doing this for a while now, and it is pretty nailed down. I will point out the volunteers and marshalls are excellent, thank you!
The start line is in the playing fields, and you head off with a loop of the field, which is great as the spectators get a chance to cheer you off and then off along the canal. The path is a little tight at first, what with everyone jostling for position etc. but it makes you work and think about what you are doing. Everyone is polite, and sportsperson like, and when a heel is caught, or an elbow connects, a sorry followed by an “it’s all good, pal” is the norm.
Over a bridge and back along the canal, through Leighton Buzzard and off towards the Globe Inn pub. Its a great course for spectators as the route has lots of great vantage points so you can cheer Mum and/or Dad along, having said that, there were a lot of younger participants this year. I know this as I am pretty sure, they all came past me!
So I make it to the Three Locks pub, and the usual hits me, oops! A little further along you turn off the canal and up a long, long, long, long, long slow drag of a hill. I believe it is approx 450 miles long! 😉 There is a water stop at the top and more magnificent spectators waiting to cheer us along. I try and look like I am smiling but I think I may well have had a “Gordon Brown” experience here.
Down the hill and into the woods of Rushmere. This has to be my favourite part. It is gorgeous along these trails. By this point, I was starting to lose the person I was trying to keep within my sights. Sean is not only a great runner; an ultra runner, but he has such a relaxed, effortless style, I have spent most of the race up to now, in awe of him, now, as he pulls away that awe has turned into something much darker, and I am looking for weapons!
Eventually, you re-join the canal next to the Globe Inn pub, more spectators waiting and cheering you on, holding beer and wrapped up in warm jackets, another love/hate experience! I was doing alright if I am honest, my time was pretty good, and I was looking good for a reasonable finish, but it had been a hard race regarding my running form, and as I set off down the canal, I was very aware of my tiredness.
I held on as much as I could, and as we crossed back over the bridge and around Tiddenfoot Lake, I wished for the finish line. There was not a lot left, my poor form had enhanced an injury in my back and when I crossed the line, I was left with no doubt, I had been tested! I had finished quicker than last year and quicker than I had hoped for and I had worked for it!
This is why it is a love/hate race for me! And this is why I will be signing up again next year.
It’s a fantastic event. Thank you!
Get The Details On
The Dirt Half ChallengeRunning Review
- Event Website
- When Was The Event?
- 17th November 2018
- Was This A Qualification Race?
- Reviewed By
- Nick TK
- About The Reviewer
- The simple facts are... I am a half-educated grey man, raised in the 70’s with no fashion sense. I understand some of what is happening around me, loosely, and that which I don’t..
- What Age Group Was I In?
- Type Of Competitor
- Was This My First Time At This Event?
The race starts with a lap of the field before entering Tiddenfoot Waterside Park and joining the canal towpath via the green bridge. You then head north on the towpath to Stoke Hammond with stunning views. The race turns right and climbs through beautiful countryside to Great Brickhill then passes through the scenic Rushmere Country Park before following the Greensand Ridge back to the start via the canal towpath. There is a lap of Tiddenfoot Waterside Park before finishing in the paddock next to the school grounds. The race is predominantly off road and crosses three minor roads. The route is sign posted and marshaled.
- Value For Money
- The Pros
- Great atmosphere
- Great course
- Great marshalling
- Great professional photos
- A really simple but effective set up
- The Cons
- If I was being really picky ....
- Preferred last years medal but it is still a nice medal!
- Other than that ....
- Nothing more! :)
- The Cedars Upper School, Leighton Buzzard, UK
Booking The Event
- How far In Advance Did I Book?
- 1 month before
- What Discount Did I get?
- No Discount
- How Easy Was It To Book?
The Event Arena / Village
- Rate The Event Arena
No Event Arena%
- Rate The Buzz Around The Event Arena
- Rate The Food And Drink Stalls
The Event Facilities
- Rate The Parking
- Rate The Toilets
- Rate The Showers
- Was There A Bag Drop?
- Was There A Changing Tent?
- Rate The Medal
- Rate The Swag Bag
No Swag Bag%
- Rate The Marshalls
- Rate The Course Marking
- Rate The Course Buzz
- Was The Event Timed?
- Was There Water On The Course?
- Types Of Terrain On The Course?
- Natural Obstacles