If you’re looking to enter a fun, off-road race over the Easter weekend, you could do worse than think about the Beaconsfield 5 Mile Trail Run.
The race, being held on Easter Monday, gives a rare chance to run around the picturesque 17th-century Hall Barn Estate near Beaconsfield, just off the M40 motorway. It’s £12 in advance for affiliated runners (£14 for non-affiliated) and will also count towards your RunBritain handicap score.
I’ve done their cross country race twice, although neither times fully fit, and it really is a great way to start the year. It’s a six-mile race set in the spectacular grounds of the National Trust’s Cliveden House. Most of its current building date from the mid-18th century but it really gained notoriety in the 1960s when it was the setting for the Profumo affair, a heady tale of sex, politics and Cold War spying that contributed to the downfall of the Conservative government in 1964.
It’s a great race, always held at the start of the year when the ground is liable to be frosty with fog hanging in the air – an ideal way to blow away any lingering New Year cobwebs. The marshals are among the friendliest I’ve experienced, the scenery is stunning, and there are also some steps to tackle.
Ah yes, the steps: 172 of them up through Yew Tree Walk, talking you from the banks of the River Thames back to the level of the house. And you do them twice, the second time just before the end of the second lap as you approach the finish when you’ve already got nearly six miles of hilly running in your legs.
The steps are just deep-but-shallow enough to make running up them normally impossible. I found that a ‘rocking horse’-type motion was the best way to tackle them although, let’s be honest, most people are reduced to a walk for at least part of the climb – I certainly was!
I’m looking forward to giving the Cliveden Cross Country a go when I’m fully fit, so roll on 2017!