Trionium Leith Hill Half Marathon – 29 February 2020

First things first, I took my new 360 degree camera out for the race (cue much arm and shoulder pain) – the video is above. Please do click through and hit “subscribe”. It helps!

The photos in this post are relatively low-quality, because I’ve had to take them as screen-grabs from the video…

The Start

The race was an “out and back”, up Leith Hill and back down again the same route in reverse. The race was to start later than most, at 11am, which meant a relative lie in before getting the train to Victoria and then back out to Dorking.

A 25 minute walk from the station to the school which was acting as base camp helped to stretch the legs and I collected my number from the school hall.

The weather was changing minute by minute and I was umming and ahing over whether to wear my waterproof. I opted it against it, headed for the door and just as I was stepping out the hardest downpour of the day started. Taking this as a sign, I popped back in, put on my waterproof and walked the 100 metres or so to the start line in the pouring rain.

Looking confused by life

By the time I’d walked those 100 metres, the rain had stopped, the sun had come out and I was boiling. Yay. The coat came off and I tucked it into my waist belt where it didn’t get too annoying.

A quick countdown and everyone was off, making their way up the opening field towards the first of the wooded areas.

The Way Up

The first hill up (and the most gentle) was a reminder of why I shouldn’t neglect hill training as much as I have done recently. 5 minutes in and I was considering my life choices. The terrain was rough and undulating but after a few minutes running through wooded areas, we crossed a small road and were out into relatively open country.

My legs were starting to warm to the idea, as was my brain, and I started to remember why I love trails so much. Trail running is a whole different game to road running and I love it. I wouldn’t want every race to be trail (sometimes flat and fast is fun) but I love getting out into knee deep mud – this race would give plenty of that.

Around three quarters of the way up, on a country track, we passed a Land Rover trying to pull a 4×4 out a stretch of water covering the path and which was up to the 4×4’s windows.

That set the scene for the next few kms, with standing water waist deep across some of the path. Some went through the bushes around the water. I went straight through it. It’s just more fun.

It did mean that I ran the next km or so with numb feet as they’d immediately frozen but a small price to pay. I decided not to film too much of it on the way up for wanting to protect the camera. On the way back down I’d given up trying.

Out of the woods and up one final long hill to the tower on the top with panoramic views out across the surrounding countryside.

Spectators were around at the top, cheering everyone on (the support for this race was great), around a final corner and to the turn stone.

One loop around the turn stone and then back down the same route in the opposite direction – but this time, faster! Gravity is my friend.

The turning stone

The Way Down

Or rather gravity can be your friend, provided you don’t try and hurtle down particularly steep paths at breakneck speed. It’s far too easy to twist an ankle or trip over a tree root. It is however a lot of fun.

The 4×4 had been extricated by the time I made it back to the waterlogged part but the standing water was still there. All the more fun to be had.

Having just about recovered feeling in my feet, I decided to lose it all again and headed straight through the middle. At one point the water reached my waist and I tripped, giving myself and the camera a complete dunking.

That gave me the necessary impetus to actually get a move on and warm up, so I made up a bit of the time I’d lost while messing about by speeding my way on down the hill.

Back through a small rural village, including a house with a waterfall in the back garden that looked like it was liable to flood at any moment and on through the fields, heading back towards the initial hill and the start/finish line.

There was one final hill, nice and steep just make sure everyone was finished off. Most took to hiking up it and then picking up the pace for the final descent to the finishing field. Never having used the camera before, I wasn’t really on top of the battery situation and it died 500 metres from the finish. But finish I did. Honest!

Just the kind of hill you like at the end of a race

The end and following day

It was my first race with Trionium and I loved it. The course was challenging but great, the volunteers and organisers were brilliant and the value for money was excellent. A free cooked breakfast for everyone in the school canteen afterwards, a Trionium mug and a long sleeve technical t-shirt with the names of all the runners.

I would highly recommend their events – I’m running their Yellowhammer 100km later this year.

And then back home, to put my feet up and recharge the camera for the Big Half the following day.

My review (and video) of the Big Half will be up soon. I was running it to pace my fiancee. It was her first ever half two years ago (I paced her then too) and so we ran it again this weekend, on the first day of the month in which we’re getting married.

Don’t forget to hit subscribe on the blog, as well as on the YouTube Channel. The blog is a bit short for this race (time is limited at the moment) and the video was a first attempt.

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