Braids Hills XC Recce

Braid Hills Bridle Path

Today I entered the Braid Hills cross country race. It's probably going to be my most local cross country race, only 4 miles from the house, so thought I would give it a go. It happens to fit in to my busy couple of months of XC races pretty well as well. 

The race is on the 16th November and since it's a 6 mile race, 2 laps around the braid hills, I thought I would do a pre-race recce tonight. The hills are about 4 miles from my work so it meant I could get an 11 mile run in on the way home, killing two birds with one stone, a run home and a recce of the course. 

I tweeted that I was running the race and I got some interest from others also taking part. I said I would post the elevation on here and, while I was out, I thought I would take some photos on my way around the path.

On race day the ladies go round the course once while the men go round twice. I started my run at where I think the race will start (according to the information on the organisers website). I didn't take my trail shoes with me as it's been pretty dry recently but I think on race day I will wear my Talon 212s or my New Balance trail shoes. One thing for sure is, I will not be wearing spikes, more about that in a bit. 

The start

The start is a wide clay path which runs around the edge of the golf course. It looks pretty easy going but looks are deceiving!

The first mile is uphill. When I say uphill I mean a constant climb up to the masts at the top of the hill. My garmin beeped at 1 mile right at the top. It's a tough climb and the thought of that hill also being mile 4 on the second time round is going to really test the legs. The surface is pretty good underfoot though and with some studs I reckon it would make it easier. 

Once at the top the views are pretty amazing, even on an overcast day like today. I very much doubt I will have a chance to look at the views on race day though. 


Narrow path On the way back down the other side, the path gets really narrow, rocky in places and really steep! I think I'm going to need to work on my descent technique.

It has been pretty dry over the past couple of days but there are still a couple of puddles around the route. If prior to the race there is a heavy down pour then it could be a bit messy, it might even be a bit slippy on the bare rocks but we will just need to deal with that if it happens. 

I was asked on Twitter if I thought it was a good XC route. It's not the sort of cross country that I am used to i.e. running around parks but I think it has potential to be a great race. It's going to be a challenge, that's for sure. There are limited number of places where you can pass people which may be frustrating at times. 

The most likely place and probably one of the safest places to pass will be the short road section. Once you come off the hill, there is a short section of road whch goes through a housing estate and then you join the trail again. This is another reason why spikes aren't going to be suitable for the course. 

It may even require a dangerous burst of speed within the housing estate to pass people and then ease the pace again once you get on to the narrow paths again. Depending on the rules for passing people, it may be possible to pass by nipping up on to the edges of the fairways around the golf course that we run next to. 

Overall, I'm glad I did the recce and I would like to go around the course again as I think I got the route slightly wrong, not a major mistake and nothing that would change the course in a negative manner, if anything, it may give slightly more space for passing people. 

I would like to go around twice next time though, without the 4 mile run to go to the braid hills! Fresher legs may make me think more fondly about the first mile climb. 

Owain Williams

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