If you joined the Striders to get fit and make new friends, trail races are for you. Usually starting and finishing from a village pub it's all very relaxed, no mass start and a great way to get out and see the countryside. The relaxed start means you start when you're ready after the start time and are timed out and back in at the finish. You can walk the route if you want but best to get there for an earlier start. It might be later that day or the next when the results are complete that you know where you came. Unless they are marathon distance entries are on the day only, entries are typically around £3 - £5 and a lot of the time this includes a £1 drinks voucher to use in the pub afterwards. They are usually held on a Sunday and tend not to clash with cross country or road races. In the summer when the evenings are lighter you can usually find one on either on a Monday or Wednesday evening. In the winter there are also some night trail races to have a go at, a headtorch is always useful for these! The routes aren't marshalled or marked out with tape like a cross country race, instead runners & walkers are given a narrative to follow using abbreviations.
If you haven't done one before its a good idea to team up with somebody that already has for your first one. You have to be prepared to get lost a few times, but that's all part of the fun! Try and read ahead if you can. As people start when they want to there's always the chance there'll be slower runners ahead to overtake and faster runners behind that will overtake you, hopefully this will confirm that you are on the correct route. Watch out though as you can sometimes rely too much on the person ahead to be going the right way when they may have made a mistake. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to go back to where you know you were correct and see where you may have gone wrong. To add to the fun there are usually at least one Clipper Point that needs to be found around the course, these prove that you have followed the route correctly and could be the other side of a stream or somewhere hard to get to!
Clip your instructions with the clipper
Trail Race Series
"The Easter Eggstravaganza", (held over the Easter holiday weekend), and the Tour of Terling, (usually held in July/August), are both four day race series with over 250 runners turning up for at least one of the runs. The Easter Eggstravaganza is arranged between four local clubs, Friday organised by Mid Essex Casuals, Saturday organised by Little Baddow Ridge Runners, Sunday organised by Grange Farm Dunmow Runners and Monday organised by Springfield Striders. The Tour of Terling is organised by Mid Essex Casuals. This includes a long and short Trail Race, a multi terrain race (with part of the route going through Terling ford!) and a one mile up, one mile down race.
The Essex Way
The Essex Way Trail Relay Race covers the 82 miles of the Essex way from Epping Station to Harwich Old Lighthouse in 10 stages and is held each year at the beginning of September. This is a big day for the club and in the past we have entered 10 teams of 10 runners! In 2010 there were 47 teams taking part from clubs all over the county. Unlike normal trail races you can "recce" the route before you run and naratives of each of the stages can be found on the Essex Way web site. Details of the event will be posted on the Chat Board nearer the time so you can put your name down to take part.
Start of the Essex Way at Epping Station
Check out the Events page for future races or a really good site is the Mid Essex Casuals web site in their Events Diary. Further information on all aspects of trail running can be found on the Trail Runners Association web-site or the Long Distance Walkers Association's