Trail Running

As our membership grows so does the variety of terrains and distances that our members like to run. As it is becoming vastly more popular we have compiled some information on trail running, including some of our favourite routes, races, and kit.

Local running routes

For those just getting into trail running, or wanting a regular local spot to hit the trails, check out the following locations:

  • Richmond Park

  • Wimbledon Common

  • North Downs Way, including Box Hill area

  • Surrey Hills

For more detailed information on run routes, see our Run Routes page.

Races

Below are a selection of our favourite trail races, including some local races and some further afield.

January

LDWA Winter Tanners – A friendly, easy-going and relatively informal run across the North Downs and Surrey hills starting in Leatherhead. There are 20 and 30 mile options.

Country to Capital – A nice 43 mile race from Wendover to Little Venice, mostly along the Grand Union Canal. Also, volunteer deal – free entry to any Go Beyond events for marshals.

February

Pilgrim Challenge – A two-day, 66-mile ultra marathon over the North Downs Way. Start from Sandy Farm Business Park and run to Redhill on Day1. From there, you can come back to London for a nights rest and get back on time for the start of the 2nd day to do the reverse course.

Brecon to Cardiff Ultra – The Brecon to Cardiff Ultra is a linear 70 kilometer race along the picturesque Taff Trail. The race starts in Brecon and finishes at Coleg Y Cymoedd, Nantgarw.

Oxfordshire Dark – Starting and finishing in the Culden Faw Estate which is split by the River Thames and nestled in the Chiltern Hills, this Maverick events race starts at 6pm and it makes a great introduction to night running.

Chianti Ultra (Siena, Italy) – For wine and art lovers, this is a course that runs in a loop in the Chianti region, between Florence and Siena. Weekend escape meets a little race. (15, 42, 73k)

March

Lulworth Cove Trail Running Challenge – Event taking place at Lulworth Cove in Dorset, one of the most beautiful and recognisable stretches of coastline in the country, situated right on the South West Coast Path. There are events from 10k to 52k.

Paris Eco trail (Paris, France) – Fast trail courses with distances from 16 to 80kms. The longer distance, the 80kms, finishes at the first level of the Eiffel tower. A unique experience and a super fast course, great for ITRA rankings (if you’re into that).

Cami de Cavalls (Menorca, Spain) – Epic Camí de Cavalls 360º is a race in stages that goes around the island of Menorca, with participation in teams of 2 people, and overnight stay at the end of each stage, with an average of 52,2 km and a height difference of 970 m per day.

April

South West Coast Path Trail Running Challenge – The South West Coast Path Challenge (formerly known as the Head to Head Trail Running Challenge) returns for another year, with a 45k, a half marathon and 12K. Set near Salcombe in Devon, the trails and coastal paths are stunning! Canicross friendly.

South Downs Way 50 (SDW50) – A 50mile race along the South Downs Way National Trail, from Worthing to Eastbourne, organised by Centurion Running. All of their events are fantastically organised and well supported, and this is a great option for a first 50miler. Be prepared though – they sell out in hours! Another option is to volunteer at an aid station and in return you get a free entry the following year.

May

The Devil’s Challenge – A three-day, 97-mile ultra along the South Downs Way, passing the legendary Devil’s Dyke valley. Starting in Winchester in Hampshire, the route heads south east through the South Downs National Park, finishing in Eastbourne in East Sussex on the third day. It is roughly the same route as the NDW100, and a great way to recce the course.

Brecon Beacons Trail Running Challenge – Starting out at Gilestone Farm, Talybot-on-Usk (1 hour from Cardiff) they offer four distances: 52k, Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K. Canicross friendly.

North Downs Way 50 (NDW50) – Another Centurion 50miler, this time in our backyard – following the North Downs Way National Trail from Farnham in Surrey to Knockholt Pound on the outskirts of Greater London. In the past few years we have had a great participation of runners from the club, as well as providing volunteers to take over one of the aid stations! In addition we regularly organise weekend group runs along different parts of the route which is great preparation if you are taking part. Again, you have to get in early as it sells out in hours!

June

South Downs Way 100 (SDW100) – This is a great race for those thinking of moving up from the 50mile and 100km to the 100mile distance. It follows along the South Downs Way – relatively accessible for recces, and easy to organise pacers for the last 50 miles of the race. It’s another Centurion event and usually sells out fast.

Marathon du Mont Blanc (Chamonix, France) – Weekend with races from vertical kilometre to 90km ultra distance in Chamonix. Large number of FRC participants expected. Register early as the races are either ballot or they sell fast.

July

Race to the Stones  – A 100km race along the oldest path in Britain, The Ridgeway, the course sets-off from Lewknor in Oxfordshire and finishes at the iconic Avebury Stone Circle. It’s a course with little elevation and great for fast 100km times on trails.

Montreux Trail Festival +  FRC Alpine Trail-Running Training Camp 2020 (Montreux, Switzerland) – Last but definitely not least, beautifully set on the side of lake Geneva, The Montreux Trail Festival offers a number of races of all distances from 1km child race to the long 100miler. In parallel, we will run the first FRC Alpine Trail-Running Training Camp (2020).

Trail Running Kit

Here are some thoughts on equipment essentials:

Shoes:

The shoe is of course the most important piece of equipment of a runner. With technical development, shoes are now a very complex topic with multiple choices on soles, support, drops and weight. The best thing to do, in my view, is to invest in a very comfortable all rounder shoe that can take you through 80/90 percent of races and race conditions. But what to choose? This is very personal, there is nothing like trying shoes out. You’ll need to run at least some 10/15k on a shoe to really know if they are good for you. So, if you have been using a model/brand that sits good on your feet, and you have a limited budget, stick to that model/brand. If not, go to a store, and try different models to check how they feel, even if this won’t be conclusive it gives you some insight. Most of the popular brands have discounts on past seasons models on different websites. One can buy very good trail running shoes at great prices, for less than £50 in some cases, and occasionally the difference between the previous models and the latest is no more than colour variations. Examples (at the date of writing of this article – September 2019): Inov8 Roclite 290, or the Salomon Speedcross4, both great shoes, will come at less than £50 for FRC England Athletics registered members – as we have access to a 10% with free delivery discount codes on top of any promotions on the site, which is pretty neat.

Backpack

This is another essential piece of equipment if you plan to stay out for a few hours. In this case, fit is key. At the moment (2019), Salomon seems to be the FRC preferred vest backpack, and they are indeed great quality. But, other brands do a very good job as well for a much lower price, and in many cases a smarter buy for the purpose. Again there are frequently of promotions for models of previous seasons, and Decathlon’s house brand – Kalenji – makes a very good vest backpack for less than £30 which is a great buy. Examples (at the date of writing of this article): Kalenji 10L vest is coming at £30, and the OMM TrailFire Vest Pack at £55. There is also a promotion for Salomon 12L ADV Skin 12 for less than £45 after discounts.

Rain Jacket

A good and light rain jacket is also a very much needed piece of kit as we go into Autumn. Price tends to be inversely proportional to weight (like on pretty much all long distance running equipment) and great jackets can be very expensive. The most important elements of the jacket are: making sure the seams are taped, that it has a good hoodie, and that it is made of a breathable membrane (gore-tex, pertex, etc). As always, fashion sets in and new collections with marginal improvements, sometimes creating sales and great buying opportunities of very similar past seasons versions. Examples (at the date of writing of this article): Salomon WP jackets available on different sizes for less than £75, and Inov8 RaceShell jackets available for £80, and the Montane Atomic available for less that £45 which is an amazing bargain. Also, check Kalenji from Decathlon and check what they have.

Headlamp

This is a piece of kit some people don’t think of as essential. My view, a great headlamp is the difference between good training sessions along winter or only training on weekends. Also, in races, good lighting will come handy to avoid nasty tree roots or loose stones on paths. Plus of course the “be seen” element when running in the evening even if on illuminated paths. Examples (at the date of writing of this article): A light headlamp comes reasonably cheap, and the SILVA Ninox 3 is coming at less than £20, or the Petzl Actik at less than £30. Good investment.

Happy miles!!! … and leave nothing behind but love and footprints!