#4 / 12
Banstead Woods Trail Marathon, 11 April 2020

My second COVID-19 affected race. April was due to be the London Marathon – still looking forward to that postponed event in October.

With no runs happening this was always going to have to be a bit creative. I don’t generally like the idea of loops but was keen on the idea of Banstead Woods because it is super-local, is a great Parkrun course and has wide paths easily allowing for 2m distancing where required.

I was still conflicted by the choice as it would be the Easter weekend with brilliant weather and was bound to become busy. My solution was to get out early. 3:45am early. This turned out to be great. I had the whole woods to myself for the first 3 hours or so and only encountered seven others in the final hour.

It was going require around 17.5 loops to make the distance and a head torch was essential for the first 2 hours. This actually added an interesting element to the run in that the course and environment melted away. All I had was my immediate view. I could have been anywhere besides the occasional recognisable ‘markers’ along the way.

I was unsure as to how my form would hold and decided to keep it easy and try to keep it consistent and managed to keep an average 9:20 min/mile (5:50 min/km) pace going. The course is 1.5mi (2.4km) long with a testing rise along the way which meant some pace drop-off where miles were taking in the uphill section.

Best of all was the transition into daylight. The birds started tweeting and a clear dawn broke to the East over Chipstead. I had a drop bag with water and Tailwind at my start point and was able to ditch the head torch and get some tunes on to see in the day. Superb.

Things actually went really smoothly. I’d expected a 4:30 finish and was pleased to bring it home in 4:12:59. Not at all flashy but it was great to end in relative comfort and feel like I had more to give. Next month might require similar creativity as the lockdown seems set to continue. I feel grateful that we have been able to “exercise responsibly” in the UK and that I can keep up the training mileage while keeping to my 12 in 12 commitment and honour the mandated social distancing.

One of my take-aways is a revised opinion of loops – I’m warming to them. Best of all is having access to such a great course so near by – oh, and winning :-). Only time that will ever happen is when there is a field of 1. Thanks to Carolyn for my woodland style medal


I also feel that while I’m not getting much faster there is a resilience building which I hope stands me in good stead later in the year. This is a long game.


I recorded a few moments along the way and stitched together a 3min video…


Categories: Race Report