I came across Howler Events earlier in the year, and the wife and I decided to enter a couple of their trail runs. Most of their events are based in the West Pennines, which makes a change as most of the trail races that we’ve done or looked at have been in the Lake District.
The Remembrance Day run started and finished in Huddleston, near Darwen, and was advertised as an 11 mile technical trail run which would raise money for Combat Stress, the British Legion and Bolton Mountain Rescue.
We arrived at the Ranken Arms nice and early and had time for another coffee, as well as plenty of ‘faff’ with numbers and losing safety pins. We both also went with putting our numbers on our thigh, which was a real eye opener. I usually end up ripping my number on my arms, but on the leg it was like I wasn’t wearing a number. I can see why so many people do it.
There was about 200 people doing the event, and the atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed, with the organiser reading a letter sent home from the front during WWI. The start was a gentle affair, with queues to get through a gate and then over a sty, but no one was pushing or shoving, probably because most of us knew how many hills there would be. In fact I don’t think there was a single flat part on the whole route. Up and up we went, and then up some more. On the whole the first half was fairly good running without too much technical paths.
At the half way point there was a feed station, although I had water and snacks with me so I pushed on. At that point I was running with a local who knew the route like the back of his hand, which was handy as it wasn’t always clear where to go, even with red and white tape all over the place.
After the feed station the route went up and up again, with some stunning views.
Not being worried about how long the race would take I even stopped for a selfie!
The second half of the race was more difficult, with rocky paths and uneven moorland to traverse. I found myself in a group of three other triathletes who were good company, and one of us was always on the look out for the trail markers so that we didn’t go off course. A few people did, and a couple of very fast women overtook me on more than one occasion.
On one particular technical uphill section I looked at my Garmin and saw that I had completed ten miles. “Only one more mile to go” I said, with a smile, to the guys I was running with. It was obvious that we were going to be doing more than the advertised 11 miles.
The last two miles were back the same way we came, although I saw a couple of people running the wrong way as they weren’t too sure that it was correct. A bit further on and three women missed a left turn but I waved at them and then opened the gate for them as we headed up the last but one steep hill, before the final push back to the pub.
The medal at the end was very well designed and is easily one of the best in my collection. I quickly changed my shoes and socks and headed back up the first hill to watch and cheer my wife. While waiting I saw another three runners go the wrong way, although they were too far away for me to shout to.
I then spotted my wife’s distinct bobble hat as she laughed and smiled her way up the last but one hill. Big hugs at the finish line and a quick dash for home to take our loyal pooch out for a walk. She would have been a nightmare if we’d brought her with us as she doesn’t like running on the lead.
The final distance for us was approximately 12 and a half miles, but Howler Events don’t charge for extra miles. We were fortunate with the weather once again, as it didn’t rain and it wasn’t too cold, although on another day this event could be very tough. Overall a very well organised event and both me and my wife are looking forward to the Forest of Bowland half marathon in December.