by Susan Johnson
After several off-road training runs with Tuesday’s B&I group I decided to look for a race that would have at least some off-road element. On Sunday I ran the Stopsley Trail Race, a 5 mile trail with a 10 mile option too. I was joined by James and Sara Lowe, both also B&I runners. The race is organised by Stopsley Striders, starting and finishing at the Inspire Sports Centre (and what a stunning facility that is!).
The race starts in the leisure centre grounds with a loop that then takes you out onto a country lane. Just after a mile the route turns onto a farm track running along the edge of wheat fields.
At this point, for me, the race became less about time and more about taking in the run. As you run along the track the views you see across the surrounding countryside are breathtaking. Mile upon mile of rolling English countryside as far as the eye could see. Wheat fields, some harvested, others not, glistened in the August sun. A real feast in every sense. Luton is behind you so escapes the eye. Past the Mile 2 marker and round the fields, still stunning views. The route then has a looped uphill section to the Mile 3 marker. Of course what goes up, as you turn, sweeps down a tree-lined lane with the views to the left teasing between the trees. At the bottom of the hill as we turned left to come back around the loop another long sweeping hill met the eye, with a steep incline at the top that did, however, reward us with the Mile 4 marker. I have to admit that I found running uphill into the strong wind, the remnant of Saturday’s storm, hard but the beautiful countryside was ample compensation. The last mile rejoins the country lane back to Inspire where we were rewarded with a super bespoke medal. This was designed by a pupil who had won a competition run at the local primary school to design the race medal,. I completed the run in 56.06 but for me the time was irrelevant. Sara finished in front of me in 48.40 and James completed the 10 miles in 1.29.54.
This race must have something for everyone. If you want to run distance run 10 miles, the 10 mile route is two loops of the course. If you want to run fast you can and if, like me, you want a race that’s about enjoying a run in stunning countryside then this is it too.
This race is very well organised, has chip timing, plenty of water on the course, lots of enthusiastic marshals and a wonderful medal at the finish. All that and after you finish you can enjoy a swim in Inspire’s Olympic-sized 50 metre pool.
Try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Ed – The Stopsley 5 and 10 mile races were also part of the Off-Road Series where there are still plenty of races and point on offer!