HellRunner first-timer Laura Bell reviews Hell in the Chilts.
Having never entered a ‘Hellrunner’ before, I mistakenly watched many videos online. I was petrified! There were (approx) 16 runners from our club, On the Run, all dressed up as cops and robbers – we were a sight but spirits were high (or was that the amaretto?) and I felt eager to get started.
As a new venue for HellRunner, the field of runners was intimate and so accessing the race and parking was quick and easy. We were right in the action and as the fog cleared, the sun came out and the nerves eased. The race village was well equipped with Clif Bar tasters, hot food and drinks and the bag drop all together. Before long the voice came over the speakers to tell us the junior race had finished and it was time to make our way to the start line.
GO! Bang on 10am the race started and we were off! Mile one consisted of two shallow water crossings and then off we all went over the fields and into the woods. Hilly doesn’t come close. I’m sure we went UP more than we went DOWN! A little concerned that the advertised one water station wouldn’t be enough, I was pleasantly surprised to receive water at miles one, three, five and nine a – welcome race amendment in the heat. The route was breathtakingly scenic and, when you lifted your head to look around, you were treated to some amazing views of the Dashwood Estate and the Buckinghamshire countryside.
The marshalls were awesome (a lot of them being our own club members) and went above and beyond their duties by collecting bits of stray fancy dress outfits, and even fending off some very angry hornets the earlier runners had unfortunately disturbed.
At mile nine, the Brooks Angels were fab! Their loud music and smiles were well received, along with their free Clif Bloks! Finally, The Bog of Doom loomed and I realised the course had been mud free (phew) and I’d almost made it to the end of my first HellRunner. I stepped into the water and waded through the reeds – I was actually enjoying myself! At last, I hauled myself out of the end, grabbed the hand of a fellow robber and sprinted to the finish line with a massive smile on my face. I’d done it!
The goodie bag was very good, containing many things such as a pot noodle, crisps, antibacterial hand gel (needed!), Clif Bar, mini shower gel, teapig and other freebies! The medal was weighty and the technical t-shirt lovely. The professional race photos that emerged a few days later were also very good – an all-round success!
All in all I had an amazing day and, despite being beaten by almost all of the hills, I went home with a smile on my face (and some very smelly clothing!)
Wading chest high through the Bog of Boom is not how most people would choose to celebrate their 40th birthday but for Karen Dunning, from Halewood in Liverpool, that’s just what she did, and with her friends too.
On 17th October, Hell Up North took place at Delamere Forest in Cheshire, the hellish pursuit saw thousands of brave souls tackle mother-nature in an all natural half marathon. As well as giving Karen the chance to celebrate her birthday in a truly unique fashion, the event was an opportunity for the mother of two to fundraise for a charity and campaign close to her heart, The Anaphylaxis Campaign.
Karen’s seven-year-old son, Isaac, was born with the life threatening condition Anaphylaxis, an extreme and severe allergic reaction that affects the whole body, as well as causing Isaac to suffer eczema, asthma and a kidney condition.
Amazingly, Karen convinced 30 of her friends to join her and run the UK’s toughest half marathon side by side. Before the event, Karen said;
“My birthday is one day after Hell up North so it felt fitting to sign up with a group of friends and do something completely crazy. I have raised thousands of pounds for various charities over the years but this time I wanted to support Anaphylaxis Campaign for my boy, Isaac.”
“We are all training as much as possible throughout our busy day-to-day lives with our own fitness programme. On top of our own training I am encouraging as many as possible to get involved in group training on a Sunday evening and practice running up and down hills.”
Having completed a variety of swim-a-thons and running events in the past, Karen is no stranger to a challenge but she has decided to up her game by entering Brooks HellRunner Hell up North.
Carey Ledford, Membership and Community Fundraising Manager for the Anaphylaxis Campaign said;
“We’re so grateful to Karen for fundraising for us by running ‘Hell up North’. Severe allergies can cause great anxiety and stress for individuals and their loved ones and spreading awareness and raising funds is vital for us to continue helping them. We wish Karen the best of luck and would also like to wish her a happy birthday for the following day. It should be a great challenge for her and we hope she enjoys it.”
For more information about Anaphylaxis Campaign please visit anaphylaxis.org.uk.
TrailPlus – creators of HellRunner – is supporting the British Red Cross Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal. At this Saturday’s Hell Up North, TrailPlus is giving away Brooks tech tee shirts, alongside vintage HellRunner finishers’ tee shirts, and is asking runners to make a minimum donation of just £5.00 per tee shirt. 100% of the donations will be handed over to the British Red Cross Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.
Surplus stocks will be brought to Delamere Forest on Saturday to encourage runners to make a donation in exchange for one or more of these tees. If you’re running in the event, don’t forget to bring some pennies along to support this much-needed cause.
After a tragic fall from a balcony left her with a broken back, 42-year-old Zoe Dixon from Weaverham in Cheshire was told she would never run again. To mark her third year since the accident she prepares to take on the UK’s toughest Half Marathon, otherwise known as Brooks HellRunner Hell up North.
It was during the early hours that the mum-of-two fell from the first floor balcony of her holiday accommodation. Zoe has no recollection of the incident happening but vividly remembers waking up the following morning in hospital with a broken back and shoulder, three broken ribs, a punctured lung and head injuries to boot.
Now, three years on Zoe looks back to the accident and talks to us about her amazing journey back into running;
“I have always been one for walking long distances and would exercise regularly so the accident really did knock me back. One of the hardest parts was to be told I would never run again. I had a five vertebrae metal fusion and was told I needed time to recover but with my son’s birthday only a few days away I was determined to get out of hospital.”
As well as plenty of rest, Zoe was informed by her physiotherapist to walk as much as possible. Zoe began walking up and down the drive, something that left her mentally and physically drained but, as she was to find out, it was a step on the road to recovery.
Two years on from the accident Zoe was going for 13-mile walks every weekend and was determined that she would run again. She added;
“After completing the ‘Couch to 5k’ programme I decided to attend a parkrun every Saturday until I was able to run 5k under 30 minutes. I am now a member of local running club Razzers Runners and after completing another mud run earlier this year I jumped at the chance to challenge myself further in Hell up North. I will run with my younger brother, Mark.”
This will be Zoe’s toughest challenge to date but she is determined to complete the UK’s toughest Half Marathon for a personal achievement as well as to raise money for Forever Angels; a charity created by her sister Amy Hathaway to support orphaned, abandoned, sick and poverty stricken children in Tanzania.
Amy Hathaway, Founder of Forever Angels and sister to Zoe, said:
“I’m touched that Zoe will be taking part in the hellish run for our charity. I set up the charity in 2006 and since have cared for over 270 babies, all made possible through generous donations from people like Zoe. As we continue to grow and help even more severely malnourished infants, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone, including Zoe, for their support and kind donations.”
Brooks HellRunner Hell up North is the second event in the infamously all natural, three-strong Brooks HellRunner series which has been running for 12 years. The event will take place on Saturday 17th October at Delamere Forest.
For more information about Forever Angels, visit www.foreverangels.org.
Zoe’s JustGiving page can be found here: justgiving.com/ZoeAndMarkHellRun.
If you’re running Hell Up North on 17 October, it’s important to approach the next two weeks strategically. Over the last few months, you will have built up your distance each week and worked hard to develop your strength, but now it’s time to control the level of training you’re doing, so that you’re on your best form for race day. Follow these tips to get your taper spot on.
After countless Sundays running distances of up to 12 miles, it can feel very restricting and frustrating spending your weekends resting. However, the importance of rest to give your body time to grow, repair and recover can’t be underestimated.
If you’re worried you’ve not put in enough miles in your training, sadly, cramming in an extra long run over the next two weekends will be futile, as it’s impossible to gain any additional fitness in this time. Hence, you’re better off sticking with some shorter runs to save yourself from injury, but keep your legs ticking over.
And if you have been sticking to your schedule, don’t worry about losing your fitness in this time. When you train over a long period of time, you gradually build up a level of fitness that won’t be lost as you decrease your training in the last few weeks.
- Maintain a minimum level of running
You’ll be pleased (or maybe not) to know that ‘rest’ doesn’t just mean spending every day with your feet up. Doing a certain degree of training is important to maintaining your current fitness level. Working out how much to do during your taper depends on the level of running you’ve been doing – the more miles you’ve done, the longer your taper. For someone that has been doing three runs per week, we’d recommend sticking to your usual training schedule in the penultimate week but, importantly, cutting your long down to no more than half the race distance. So for Hell Up North, don’t run any further than six and a half miles. In the final week, aim for two to three shorter runs of between 20-40 minutes. Throw some speed into the mix too with 5 x 200m reps at 10K or 5K pace to keep your legs feeling lively!
- Get to bed early
Try to get to bed that little bit earlier, aiming for seven to nine hours a night. It sounds simple, but sleep is particularly important for boosting your recovery and also maintaining a strong immune system. Growth hormones are secreted as you sleep, which are important to your muscle recovery and repair. The lower your levels, the slower your recovery. A lack of sleep likewise comprises our immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses, and given running can lower the body’s immune defences, sleep couldn’t be more important in the run up to race day.
- Eat well
Keep your immune system strong by adding an extra portion or two of vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables into your daily diet. In the final week, give slightly more emphasis to carbohydrates to top up your energy stores for the big race – particularly the evening before. For your pre-HellRunner meal, choose a meal high in carbohydrate to boost the body’s muscle glycogen stores and avoid foods high in fat and protein.
- Get ready!
Finalise your plan! To take the stress out of race day, get your HellRunner kit laid out the night before, get your number pinned on and the postcode (CW8 2JD) in your sat nav. Make sure you have your travel route planned the week before to ensure you get to the race on time! For travel details visit: http://hellrunner.co.uk/hellupnorth/
Think your tough enough for HellRunner? Watch one man’s experience of Hell in the Chilts 2015, and we’ll let you make your own mind up…
Thanks for the awesome video Joel Hackett.
Congratulations! You’ve nearly made it and there’s only one week left! If you’ve been partaking in this from the start then a massive well done to you, you should be as fit as a fiddle by now and well prepared for Hell In The Chilts.
Now we don’t want you to overtrain, so this week’s going to ease you into the big run on Saturday. It’s also worth noting that this week, you should be getting a minimum of seven hours sleep a night.
Without further ado, here is your final week’s plan:
It’s the penultimate week of your HellRunner training plan and you’re now into taper territory! This week, we’ve shortened the distance of your long run to 10K to save your legs for race day. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve got it easy; expect a tough strengthening session on Wednesday and a challenging hill session on Thursday. Give it your best shot HellRunners because next week it’s all about resting up before the big race. Good luck!
The end is very nigh indeed my little hellions, and now it’s about time we built some speed into your runs. We should be pretty conditioned at this point, but we need to do more than run far, we need run fast too. Hence why this week,we have some intervals built in! For those that have never trained like this before, you should be running at about 85%-95% of your max speed. So yes, you will be pretty tired come the end, if you’re not, you didn’t run hard enough.
See how you get on and let us know!