Today marks the end of the FoxTrail Winter Series for another year. If you haven't heard of the series, it's a 6 race series spread over the winter months. There is also a 5k series which is 5 races.
The Winter Series has a mix of distances ranging from 10k to half marathon, all off road and on trail. It's brilliant.
This year I went in to the series not as fit as I would have liked but I just wanted to take part, race as hard as I could and see how it went.
I've been running the Winter Series for the past 4 years and I've had a good run of results, winning the full series outright in the first 2 years, last year I finished 3rd overall and this year, I finished 3rd again, for a full 2 hours! More details to follow.
The first and last race of the series is always hosted at Foxlake in Dunbar and they are always 13k. The course has a great mix of trails to race on, some mud, some sand, a small section of pavement and some small bridges to crossed. There are some long wide stretches and then some more narrow, single track, technical trails. As I say, it has it all.
The second race is one of my favourites, a night time 10k. A 2 lap course where the forest is all lit up with coloured lights and there was a Red Bull disco van and a disco tent! A brilliant event.
The third race this year was the 16k, again based at Foxlake and you head out along Dunbar beach for one section of the course. This year wasn't too bad, the wind was on our backs and the beach was nice and hard packed. I really enjoyed this race.
The fourth race was hosted at Balgone and was 10k. I would say this course makes the 16k feel like a breeze! This year we had storm conditions, 40 mph head winds, lots of mud and it was tough going. To add to the conditions, the course is actually brutal even on a good day.
The fifth race is the half marathon which is hosted at Harvest Moon, a holiday location where you can stay in wooden cabins. It looks amazing and could be tempted to stay there during the summer months. Located near the beach it would be great as a family get away location. The conditions for this race weren't too bad other than the fierce headwind in the final couple of miles along the beach. I was feeling pretty good in this race, I seemed to pace it well but the super soft sand just finished my legs off completely.
The final race, as I have already said, is 13k again which was today. I felt really good for most of the race, pacing it not too badly but all the miles I've been putting in for Manchester Marathon caught up with me in the final couple of miles. I was feeling strong but the fatigue in my legs was there. I just couldn't run any faster if I tried. I was super happy to finish 4th overall for this race, my best finish this year.
At the end of the race we had the prize giving and to my surprise I was awarded 3rd place over all for the entire series. A little shocked as I know I have been consistently in the top 10 for each race but I thought some others had placed better than me.
I headed home and then I received a text from the organisers, due to a technical glitch the results were missing a race and after the recalculation took place I had dropped to 4th overall, missing 3rd place by 1 point! Oh well, I was 3rd overall for a short spell.
The thing I love about this event is, I can honestly say, hand on heart, I don't race the event for the podium or the final results. I race this event because everyone is so friendly and nice. On the start line everyone is chatting, joking and just having fun. Of course once the cow bell rings (yes, the races start by a cow bell being rung), everyone is racing and out to beat the person next to them but then once it's all finished, everyone shakes hands, gives high fives and we are back to laughing and chatting about the race.
The marshals are super, as are the event organisers. They really do make the whole event unique and a joy to take part in.
I'm already looking forward to next year's series!