Saturday 22nd April 2017
By Owen Delaney
I ran my first trail race back in 2005, with an outfit called AAT Events. They hold a series of 10k races every year from January to March called the G3 series. It was one of these events that first gave me the bug for trail running. You can’t beat running around the Surrey hills on a crisp winter morning. I seem to recall pitching up at the start line in just a vest & shorts, in freezing temperatures. I learned one lesson there…
Fast forward a dozen years, and AAT have introduced their latest trail race, and their first ultra - Fox Ultra. A 60km loop around Guildford, along the Fox Way. There are also 20 & 40km options, as well as the chance to run the full 60km as a relay team.
I came across the race through ULTRA magazine, who AAT were teaming up with for this event, and got myself signed up earlier in the year.
The race started from Godalming at 6am, meaning a horrible alarm call at 3:45am was required to allow for breakfast, kit prep, and a 45 mins drive with Toby down there, leaving us with another 45 mins for registration and the usual pre-race faffery.
There were around 140 people running in the ultra, including the relay teams, and we all set off on time at 6am. The other 20 & 40km events started at 8 & 9am I believe, with start locations further along the course, and everyone finishing back at Godalming. 5 minutes into the race, I checked my watch to realise I hadn’t started tracking the run. Well done me.
The route has some sections of road and pavement, but it’s mainly trail, with a mix of Bushy Park -esque dirt tracks, towpath along the River Wey, running through grassy fields, leaping over styles, and some rocky and tree root laden woodland trails. The first 25 miles or so were mainly flat, with a few easy climbs, and I settled into a steady pace with a group of 2 or 3 other runners. I was feeling pretty good for most of that time, but knew there was a steady climb and steep descent coming up, and by the time we came through the marathon point in a little under 3h30, my legs and heart rate had really started to feel the miles and the pace slowed for the remaining 10.
Time slowed down as well it seemed…
But eventually I arrived back in Godalming, and shuffled straight through the winners award ceremony! Oops. But I was well happy to finish 8th out of 130 solo runners, in 5h19 - around 15 mins quicker than last year’s Downs Link Ultra, which is a similar distance, but without the hills.
Congrats to Toby who came in in around 6h20, much quicker than he was expecting.
This was a great event from the friendly and welcoming AAT, along a varied and interesting route (always helps to pass the time if you have nice views to look at), with aid stations every 10km or so, all well stocked up with a variety of sweet & savoury snacks <- my favourite part of running ultras ☺ . Thoroughly recommended if you fancy getting out and exploring the best of what Surrey has to offer.