My Route from Road to Trail

John Hussey

On 23rd April 2011 “parkrun” started in Roundhay Park—a timed 5Km run every Saturday morning with no entry fee! There were 139 of us there for that 1st event and I was hooked. Without sounding silly this was a life changing event for me. I still love walking through our beautiful park to the meeting point and watching the colourful band of our fellow runners chatting their way to us.


A year later I joined a local Running Club, Valley Striders. Helped by the encouragement and training available I entered my first Road Marathon in 2015. I managed to get around in a reasonable time and enjoyed myself for most of the route. The section between 20 and 25 miles remains a complete blur, my only memory is that it hurt a lot.


However, by this point I had been doing some shorter Fell/Trail Races and enjoying the variety of terrain with ever changing scenery. Whilst there is a place for Road Running it seemed to be always just against the clock with no appreciation of what’s around. Then, in 2016, I spotted a 20Km Trail Race in Swaledale through some of Yorkshire’s best scenery but with over 3000ft of serious up. The route was described as having “technical” sections which even I realised, that they would be difficult.


Anyway, entry sent in, some training done and I was on the starting line with a lot of other equally nervous people around me—what had we all let ourselves in for! At the top of the first ascent we started running but after a few minutes people stopped, got their phones out and took photographs of the fell sides—forget the time, we are here to enjoy ourselves was the response to my questions. We all relaxed and started enjoying ourselves.


Fast forward to 2017 and I have just completed a series of Trail Races in Swaledale, all tough with lengths of 20km, 30km and 42km, all with around 3500ft of ascent. I have had a wonderful time running with an amazingly friendly bunch of runners, passing marshals always encouraging you onwards, and seriously challenged myself on every event whilst savoring my surroundings.


Whilst I don’t say never to more Road Races my heart is firmly in Fell/Trail Running. If you have never tried it please, please do—there are plenty of shorter events around and as a bonus the entry fees are usually much less than Road Events.


I always warm to a challenge, next years’ is a couple of Off Road Ultra Marathons of probably around 60Km. Slightly scared but determined to give it a try!


Oh, by the way, running is not just for youngsters—I’m 68 and having a whale of a time!!!! Get out and give it a try. Running Clubs are fabulous, not just for Elite Athletes but for all abilities.



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