Other trail running sessions are available, I assume. This one was 7k, free, popped up on my Facebook feed, and was close enough for me to drive to whilst, at the same time, being far enough away that it took place in countryside that I am not familiar with.
Start time was 9am, and we were asked to turn up 15 minutes early. Mostly, I suspect, so that people who had asked to trial Salomon trail shoes could get fitted up, but also so those who wished to do so could warm up a bit pre-run. I had gone hoping to try running with one of their hydration back packs, but they had only been sent teeny tiny sizes that... well... I am a D/DD cup, they weren’t going to work for me.
Our leaders were a coupe of guys called Mark and Sam. I made sure to introduce myself to Mark as he was going to be tail runner and I was the oldest, and likely to be the slowest, runner there.
Myself and another runner called Mike were indeed quite a bit older than everyone else - I think there were about 20 of us altogether - and he was recovering from a broken ankle as I found out when he came over to introduce himself to Mark as well 😀
Mike and I did our bit by spending the first kilometre at the front of the pack at which point we had the first stop for ‘coaching’ from Sam. There weren’t many of us who hadn’t done some kind of trail running, but I think the talk would have been the same anyway. This session wasn’t about pace, trail running isn’t about speed, it’s about enjoying ourselves, and the scenery. Sam also outlined the next chunk of the route at this point and then we set off up a gentle incline. My own personal nemeses - long, gentle inclines, especially after an actual stop always seem to drain the energy right out of me! I settled in at the back and carried on my conversation with Mike and Mark.
Top of the hill and Sam asked for 3 victims - sorry, volunteers - to show us how they ran down hill, then proceeded to tell us how it ought to be done - weight a bit forward instead of back and toe first with a bit of a bounce if necessary to keep us on firmer ground, and scuffing the ground a little to brake if we felt in danger of our speed getting out of control. He also told us to trust ourselves to look farther ahead than we thought we could, and not to run looking at the ground the whole time. Apart from anything else looking at the ground means we’re missing the countryside - cue a deer leaping across the path close beside us 🦌
The path wasn’t too technical, a few tree roots, some slightly slippery chalk, some soft mud in the middle of the path so we had to think where we wanted to put our own feet and not blindly follow the person ahead. That said, as the route down got a bit steeper Mark did run ahead of me as I was finding it hard to remember to do 2 new things at once - canicrossers mainly tend to run heel first even down hill to counteract the forward momentum of our canine running buddies.
The run continued with stops every so often to check we were all doing okay and for more pearls of wisdom from Sam and Mark - also one memorable occasion when it took 2 other people to help me with the lace on one of my new trainers as when I attempted to untangle it I got blood rush when I tried to stand back up (oh the joys of slightly low blood pressure!) I spent most of the time toward the back and actually got to meet quite a few people back there who were happy to chat to me while they took breathers at one stage or another.
All in all it was well worth the trip over there, the run leaders were great guys and were runners first foremost (rather than being Salomon salesmen) and the rest of the group were fun and friendly.