by Katie Royals

A theme of my recent articles seems to be running up as many hills as possible. Whether it’s a bizarre form of self-torture masked as an attempt to keep fit or a type of twisted pleasure, it seems to be how I’m spending most of my weekends.

Luckily, for myself and the other running obsessed, the Chiltern Hills lives up to its name and there’s many a hilly race to keep us entertained. A recent one was the Marlow Half Marathon and 7 mile race.

With a half marathon requiring a bit too much training for a last minute entry, I decided to take on the 7 miler. Not being particularly familiar with Marlow, I was looking forward to catching a glimpse of its scenery and discovering more about the local area. Unfortunately, this proved somewhat optimistic as I spent most of the race gasping for breath, with my sole focus being on putting one foot in front of the other. However, looking back at the race pictures it seems that I missed out on some striking autumnal views.

The race HQ at Marlow Sports Club not only had the expected running gear stalls, but was also filled with a range of local eateries selling delicious snacks and meals to spectators. The smell of which was enough to entice the runners to push that little bit harder to get around the course quicker to sample all the food.

Another run I undertook recently was the Herbert’s Hole Challenge, hosted by Chiltern Harriers. Thankfully the weather was kind this year and the course was less muddy than usual, but it was still a challenge nonetheless. With around 500 feet of climbs, the just over 10 km course gives runners the chance to experience some of Buckinghamshire’s beautiful countryside.

Starting and finishing in Lowndes Park, Chesham, the route is certainly undulating and takes runners through the outskirts of the town into the countryside. Once again, I found myself rather short of breath with burning calves and I struggled to take in any of the scenery but, particularly on such a sunny day, the views from the top of the hills made the pain slightly more bearable.

If my self-inflicted suffering has somehow encouraged you to try a similar event, then you’re in luck as there are plenty of local hilly races coming up.

The Hardwick X-Stream event (for those that enjoy a bit of mud) is in February. Hosted by Bearbrook Harriers, the off-road 6 mile race takes place just outside Aylesbury and follows a route made up of varied terrain, including grassland, ploughed fields, farm track and even the occasional stream.

The Berkhamsted Half Marathon and 5 mile fun run in neighbouring Hertfordshire is in March. Unfortunately, last year’s event had to be cancelled due to a late snowfall, so the 2019 race is eagerly anticipated.

During the winter months finding the motivation to brave the elements and get outside to train is much harder. These events could provide an incentive to keep going – of course making more room for mince pies during the festive period!

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