Trunce #5, June 2019 – Ben Hales

Not walking the Trunce.

In the countryside north-west of Sheffield, nine trail races take place in the warmer months each year. With climbs, descents, obstacles and three river crossings of the upper Don, they’re always experiences both challenging and scenic.

The Trunce 3.8 mile series has been going since 1968, when six steel industry office workers started having regular races to train for football. It’s named after one of the farms on the route. While only a few dozen took part for the first occasions, around four hundred run nowadays.

It is still a no-fuss affair. Facilities are basic, there are no marshalls and the route is not marked – you’re expected to know where to run. Some other rules bandied about include avoid the stepping stones, don’t push in when queueing, avoid trampling on the farmer’s crop at the start, don’t use resident’s back fences as toilets, follow tonight’s particular designated route through Trunce farm ‘to keep Lynn happy’, etc.

The race has a bit of everything: track, trail, water, road. I went to my first couple in spring, and this was my third outing.

The Trunce #5 report

It’s a balmy evening in late June. I fancy running quicker today.

How to play it? Hard up the hills without walking, efficient down the drops. It’s a long uphill first furlong. Breathing becomes heavy. My heartrate feels too fast. Run steady. Inevitable bottleneck at the first obstacle (a kissing gate). No chance of a PB now. A male runner overtakes me as we’re queuing. He slips. Justice – he broke etiquette. First time I came here a chap from Lancashire got scolded jumping in line here. He reacted abusively. It weren’t nice.

Over the river and onto the road. A few spectators cheers us on. “Coom on Baaahnsley!” People have thick Yorkshire accents here. The first big climb. Don’t walk this bit. A stile and congestion. We’re walking. Vault the stile and we’re running through Trunce Farm and onto a muddy downhill section. Keeping steady, choosing my route carefully, I take one or two runners as they slip and slide. Just run well. Run on the grass and bracken.

Second time over the river and up onto the road for a bit. I challenge myself to do the last, longest climb without walking. Keep running. Others eventually walk. Running’s got to be faster than walking. Guy in front is walking. I’m not catching. But still going.

Then it flattens out. Keep a mediocre pace until the home stretch. It turns downhill and there’s someone catchable. Down to the bend, high-five some kids, then the last straight – finally the chance to let rip. Switch to running only on my toes. “Goo-on, you’ll catch ‘im!” someone shouts. Find a good sprint. So did the the other runner.

Hope to see more Harriers here for the last three?

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