Hills & Hippies

By Sam Dear

“That’s an awful long way to go for a 10k” was the cry I got from fellow runners when I explained I was travelling down to Somerset to run the Pilton Festival Run this weekend.

But the chance to run around the Glastonbury festival site was too much to pass up and I was looking forward to something a bit different when travelling down there on the Saturday evening (after watching the mighty Luton Town! – ed.). Having been to the festival 4 times and going again in 2015 I was looking forward to running through fields that I’m used to being covered in tents, toilets and teepees, but would now just be me, other runners and the Worthy Farm cows.

After escaping the slightly strange vibes (and people) of Glastonbury town, myself and my Dad wound our way down the valley into the village of Pilton to Worthy Farm where every summer over 175,000 people gather to drink cider, watch live music and have a good time. Today only 450 people were allowed on the site to run the inaugural 10k route or the 5k or 2k.

The Pilton Festival Run is organised by the locals of Pilton village and is only in it’s second year with this year being the first with chip timing! We collected our numbers and made our way to the start line which is situated on the slopes of one side of the valley. After a few minutes of welcomes and thank yous from the great Michael Eavis, we were off!

Almost immediately we turned left to go down the steep hill and I relaxed into my stride and zoomed past a few runners who were already taking it steady on the uneven track. At the bottom of the valley we darted around the famous Pyramid Stage, over the old railway track and on our way back up the other side to the Stone Circle. By this point I realised that I was actually in 5th place and some of those ahead were in the 5k race! Potential podium on the cards!

After struggling up to and round the Stone Circle (which seemed much harder than when wandering around with a can of cider in hand!) it was back down to the valley floor and up the other side. Half way up the hill the 5k and 10k runners split off in different directions. Back through the Pyramid Stage field before the toughest hill on the course with mud that just sticks to your shoes and a gradient that just seems to go on forever!

At this point I knew I was in third and saw I was slowly gaining on the runner in front of me, especially when he stopped to give his burning calves a breather up the hill. I struggled on and momentarily I was sitting in 2nd, but his little break obviously did him the world of good as he went past me again on the crest of the hill as we turned down a trail called “Wonderful Wood” and then back down hill towards the main festival site.

Once back in the valley floor we picked up the old railway track again and after about 8k I could hear strong footsteps behind me. Unfortunately I was spent and was hanging in there as the dreadlocked figure strode past me and I struggled to keep up with him.

Off the old railway track, past the pirate ship (Yes you read that correctly!) and only one thing was left for the last kilometre: the steep hill back up to the start/finish. Last time I was there, I was cursing my broken sack trolley that I’d had to abandon in the mud. Little bit different this time, but I was definitely still cursing.

I tried as hard as I could but seemed to be going nowhere. Finally the crest and a flat, straight, sprint finish. The distance was too great and despite gaining on 2nd and 3rd place I just missed out on that podium finish and a chance to shake hands with the big bearded one, Michael Eavis himself, with a time of 42:22.

My Dad also just missed out on that extra bit of silverware finishing 2nd in his age category of M60.

Most of the other runners were from the South West of England although I did hear one person say he had come from Rugby. Nevertheless the LBAC purple stood out among the colours of the local clubs.

If you’ve ever been to Glastonbury music festival this is definitely one you should look out for next year where I expect it will be that little bit bigger and better, but otherwise, it certainly is a long way to go to run 10k!

We rewarded ourselves with sausage rolls and a walk up Glastonbury Tor (what were we thinking?!) before allowing the 4 hour drive home to seize our leg muscles up that little bit more…