Lanterne Rouge

The day dawned excessively early as Shakti and I were off to the Trailblazers event in the South Downs, Shakti was booked in for the 4 mile walk and I had opted for the 6 mile trail run. We both like to arrive places early so with each of us allowing for emergencies we arrived 2 hours too soon. We had a minor row on the way down as I made Shakti circumnavigate a roundabout a few times while I eenymeenyminymoed about which exit I was going to choose – the wrong one as it happened. She unreasonably questioned why someone would have no less than 3 GPS enabled gadgets and not actually use any of them.

No need to stress though, we were hardly threatening to miss the start. I had plenty of time to reassess my initial understanding of the phrase “Trail run”. When I signed up I was thinking trail = muddy, which I thought would be fun, when I arrived I was reminded of the alternative translation, trail = f’kin hills! Not quite so much fun.


It was a little tricky to find the start at this early hour, I spotted a group of women walking along a ridge and strode after them assuming them to be the running sisters of the Brighton and Hove Running Sisters fame. Shakti held me back and insisted on asking a passing Gurkha for directions. Turns out the women were doing Trailwalker. Sounds similar enough to Trailblazer but in practice it would have meant a difference of 90 km and more than 24 hrs. Lucky escape methinks.

Trailblazers at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks


The route was wonderful, it started with a cobbley incline but soon enough turned into a delightful downhill run on lush grass. This coincided with a great tune on my guest playlist – Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson and I am now convinced that Country music hits the spot for trail running. I was bounding along and felt like leaping in the air clicking my heels together. The spirit of Judy Garland obviously inhabited me for a moment.

Trailblazers running

Trouble with downhills is that they are too often replaced by uphills and the music changed to a very freaky song with lyrics along the line of “BannanaTerracotta” and knocked me out of my heel tapping mood. The next descent was steep. I’ve read fell running books and know to relax into the gradient but I very rapidly became a very rapid, out of control orange blur. I think I scared a number of exhausted Trailwalkers who must have thought they were going to be engulfed by a tango rhino. My thighs are going to make me suffer tomorrow.


I lost sight of all running bodies in death valley, not really the place to be abandoned and I had to climb the punishing Snake weaving in and out of the poor Trailwalking souls. They had covered about 90km by this stage and had been walking for more than 28 hrs which put my pain into perspective a bit and encouraged me to keep trogging up the hill.

I finally came in to the heroes welcome reserved only for the last runner plus a bit of jibing from Shakti who was basking in her second place in the walkers “race”. Unlike the race organisers, I knew there was one more runner out there – we had been battling for the back of the starting group before the gun. She has run every single Trailblazer event so I knew that regardless of how slow she seemed, she’d be steady and well aware of the challenges of the course. She would definately be finishing!

She crossed the line maybe 10 mins later, stealing the legitamcy of my blog title. Still, I believe in artistic licence and we are still in the TdF season so Lanterne Rouge is staying.
Great run, well organised, super friendly marshalls and its not often you get cheered on by Gurkhas.

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  1. sounds like another great run from warrior women. I’m jealous of your weather – it looks beautiful! It’s cold, cold, cold over here!

  2. Sounds like an excellent day! I fear that I might be responsible for the Terracotta Pie song. It’s usually my spring song on the bike, but it took me about 5 times listening to it in my friend’s car for it to grow on me…

    It’s so great that you’re racing so much, keep it up!

  3. Woooo – go you :-)

    G’wan – have a crack at Trailwalker – one of the people I crewed for at the weekend did her first successful TW in just over 29:36 in 2004, and until the last chunk when a lack of training over the longer distances caused them to slump, was on target to cut that time in half. There’s talk of going faster next year too

    Email me if you want any info on TW, especially TW support – I’ve crewed four times and have a 100% success rate so far. Apart from this year no team has done under 25 hours so they’re not all tip top athlete types either

  4. What a lovely post and what a fantastic run. Our trail runs here in Oz are often over harsh, dry and scratchy terrain. You seem to have an abundance of riches in comparison with that beautiful lush and green topography.

  5. Well Bear I’m not too sure about Trailwalker just yet but I wouldn’t mind your assistance on another matter. I seem to have got myself into a little pickle and have about 10 weeks to build myself into 1/2 marathon shape – any chance of sharing Jogblogs schedule?

  6. Not only can you have my training schedule, you can also have my place in the half-marathon if you want it. Think I’m going to have to resign myself to the fact that I won’t be up to it in time with this injury :-(

  7. Which half are you doing?

    I think I’ll have to get down the hospital next week to see what they say about my leg. It’s not getting any better :-(

  8. thanks for looking me up. thought i had better say something or feel a little creepy cyber stalker. good luck with your HM training, do you know if you are following a set training plan yet or just winging it? mine is not a ‘real’ race just a bunch of people around the world running at the same time in a DIY race, so i may yet drop down to a 5k race. no pressure is good at this stage as 5k is the longest i have ‘run’ so far , although what i do can be measured in millenia not hours or minutes :)

  9. This sounds really fun, and looks as though you had one of the very few nice days for the event too. I haven’t been running in ages…I stress fractured my foot and have been forbidden by the GP to run til she gives me th go ahead. I’m doing yoga, and spinning classes – the latter I hate – to try to keep fit and flexible but it’s not the same! Have moved back up to the grim North too now and everything’s made of concrete. Doesn’t make for as pleasant an experience as the running trails and fields on my doorstep down south!

  10. hi! Thanks for posting on my blog! I love the U.K. and lived there in 1997, but haven’t been back since 2000. I just read your About – wow you’ve come a long way! I think of my weight and goal weights in stone (influence from the UK) and no one here knows why 14 lbs is my goal increment. happy running!

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