Being the summer-time (ish) many villages in the area have fetes and carnivals. This is something of a tradition going on for many years, and something which brings the community together. In addition, a good number of these fetes locally have fell races attached to them.
As you may have gleaned from my previous postings, I hold a strong preference to the smaller low-key events. I find it much easier to manage with a smaller number of people around; large events tend to panic me a bit. As such, there is an even greater attraction to these low key events.They neither have nor want the budget to do anything bigger or to have goody bags filled with sweets and the remains of several forests advertising other events. For these events the important thing is participation.
Fell races, traditionally the antithesis of ‘flat and level’, tend to attract a different crowd compared to the big road events.
Anyway, I’ve digressed before even starting here. So let’s start.
Wincle Trout Run
The Wincle Trout Run is an annual fell race held to coincide with the Wincle village fete. It’s slightly unusual in that the location of the fete is rotated between 3 different locations around Wincle. The result is that the fell race itself changes each year with the start/finish corresponding to the location of that year’s fete.
All three courses are challenging; I’m led to believe that the 2017 route was the hardest of the three, but having not done it I’m unable to comment – at least until 2020 when it returns to that location! That said, due to a fallen tree on the ‘normal’ route for the year, the river crossing was moved.
It’s a very popular event. The 350 places were filled within a couple of days of pre-registration opening. This is one of a few races which isn’t enter-on-the-day. Entry was £9.50 plus £1 to get into the fete itself on the day. A bit more expensive than many other fell races, however it’s a fund-raiser for the community (as part of the fete) and there is a finishers memento unlike most fell races. More on that later.
Let’s start with a Strava map of the route which includes the elevation. That’s a 9km long course with 300m of climb.
The route itself starts on the road with a significant descent to begin with. This is quite unusual compared to other fell races I’ve done this year where the general approach seems to start at the bottom and run up first before doing any descent. Yes, in another rare turn of events I wore my glasses today. It’s something I tend not to do in road races because the surface is predictable. In fell races the ground is very unlevel and judging exactly where the ground is becomes difficult when you can’t see it properly!
As the adage goes, what goes down must come up again, yet in the Wincle Trout Run, the uphill takes you a distance directly above the fete location. As usual it’s the sort of uphill that hurts a bit!
After this it’s an undulating course which eventually drops quickly down to the river crossing point at mile 2. There seem to be lots of photos of me in the river, none of which are particularly flattering. So I’ve chosen one where at the very least, I’m smiling! Thanks to Bryan Dale for the photos here.
Once back on dry land (with decidedly wet feet!) the route followed a trail through the woods. It was gently uphill to begin with and made for very pleasant running. There were a few hairy moments when you realise how big the drop is to your left but on the whole it was a nice undulating trip through woods and a bit of open farmland.
Time for a proper hill climb
It was when we came to the turn-point that the gradient began to edge towards double figures % and the pace really dropped. The climb itself wasn’t particularly technical, but I still found I made better progress walking the first section. One person ran past me and then started walking a few metres in front, but other than that it appeared all around me were doing the same.
I knew which climb this was as it was very prominent on the horizon from the fete itself. Thanks to JP Kearns for this photo:
As we came out above the woods, the gradient reduced and was very runnable again. There were a few of us running close by for multiple overtakes / re-overtakes to occur although by the top of the climb there were just two of us left.
It was a spectacular view down towards the fete. It was also a long way down. Which was where we went next.
It appears my downhill running today wasn’t as good as I’d have hoped and the other chap left me for dust. That said I did close up on a few others ahead. Some of the descent was a stone track, and the rest was a lot of broken trail, tree-roots and other available trip hazards. Somehow I didn’t trip, although I was probably taking it a little more leisurely than I ought to have done!
Finally we popped out onto a road and headed in the direction of the pub….. ALMOST!
In fact we turned a sharp right and a sense of deja vu dawned. That first hill we tackled just next to the fete was also repeated by sadistic demand as the last hill. Let’s just say the uphill bit wasn’t very quick…….!
And whilst the downhill was straightforward, I didn’t have a huge amount left to give. Another JP Kearns photo:
Plenty of spectators lined the final 100 metres of the course which swung back into the fete and to the finish, which I pushed hard on (I hate being pipped on the line!) to finish in a slightly-underwhelming 52m7s according to my watch for the 9k course. Still, I got around in one piece.
Something fishy about the memento
And the reward for finishing the event……. Yup, the clue is in the title of the race. It’s supported by the local trout farm with all finishers allowed to take home a trout (if they wanted to – nobody was forced to depart with a fish!). So finishing the day with oven-baked trout really was a great way to end a nice event.