UTR Roundhay – Mud, Sweat & Ice Cream!

Ashley Grindrod

I’m sure by now most of you will have heard of the Urban Trail Runner (UTR) series – which is a relatively new revolution to hit Leeds. In short (for those that haven’t), it is a number of 6-7 mile race events (roughly 10-11 km for you metric loving youngsters) held in easy to get to urban locations around the Leeds area.


Having only started running regularly around a year ago and being a prime ‘pavement pounder’ at that, the thought of hills, uneven ground, and narrow trails was never something that enticed me!


I think my perception of current fitness levels was always the main reason behind this. Now ‘slightly’ fitter and of course living in Yorkshire where hills are in abundance, I thought it was time to bite the bullet and attempt some off road events.  Fellow running friends who had entered the first 2016 UTR event at Temple Newsam seemed to have enjoyed the experience, therefore, when offered free race entry to the Roundhay leg  (thanks to one of my local running clubs, the Bramley Breezers) I was keen to get involved.


The first thing I liked about the race is that it took place on a Wednesday evening, this makes a nice change from the normal weekend events (I usually go for a run on Wednesdays anyway, so it just fit into my normal running routine). I arrived at Roundhay around 25-30 minutes before the start of the race, which with the efficiency of registration turned out to be plenty of time. This meant I could meet up with fellow Farsley Flyers, have a quick stretch & fit in some pre-race photos for the Facebook group.


Just before 7pm we followed others who had started to head down to the start line and claimed our place in the huddle of runners. The standard pre-event briefing took place and there wasn’t much waiting around before they set us off. I always prefer it that way as it means less time for nerves to surface. I set off at a good pace with the terrain being relatively flat to start with but it didn’t take long before the first hill was upon us. It wasn’t particularly long, but definitely got the heart rate elevated!  


Not long after we were hit with another hill, this was one of those long steady hills, you know, the type that makes non asthmatics start to question whether they might actually have respiratory issues.


I can’t compare to the Temple Newsam race but there was definitely a fair few hills in the mix at Roundhay!  I can’t complain though as the route also had a beautiful woodland section which took us down to the river, as well as a short stair climb to the beautiful Roundhay castle and included a nice flat section around the lake. Take a look here to find out more about Roundhay Park.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this event! I’m not going to lie, it was a challenge (as hilly routes always are) but I guess you’ve got to tackle the terrain to make it easier for next time! I think this type of race was undeniably much more rewarding than you’re standard road race and I will definitely be looking to run the next in the series at Middleton woods on August 21st. The organisation was great as well as the marshalling and by far the best part of the whole event was the FREE ice cream, yes your heard me right, free ice cream for every runner at the end!



For anyone looking to try a trail race, get down to the next UTR in August in Middleton!


It’s all about variation in training and running in the woods certainly beats chugging around the asphalt jungle! 



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