Race Report: Cathedral to Castle Run

I hope that everyone is having a great week, I can’t believe that it’s Wednesday already. The weekend is rapidly approaching.

a0ba0559-b46c-4048-9105-4d9049c3550dLast Sunday I completed a new (to me) 10 mile multi-terrain race; the Cathedral to Castle Run. The race started near to Lichfield Cathedral, passed through Hopwas Woods and finished in the grounds of Tamworth Castle.


Although I was nervous about running a 10 mile race, the prospect of running and exploring somewhere totally new was exciting, so exciting I got very little sleep the night before the race.

The evening before the run was very relaxed and I may have ended up in my favourite local pub. I checked out the race route, got my kit together, located my running number, scoffed a load of pasta and made sure that I kept myself reasonably hydrated.

The morning of the race was unfortunately a tad stressful. The prospect of running 10 miles made me feel incredibly nervous and I struggled to eat. Most unlike me! I also made the fatal error of not pinning my race number to my t-shirt until just before leaving the house. It took me four attempts to successfully pin my number to my t-shirt.

My friend dropped me in Lichfield with enough time for me to use the real toilets twice, to get my trainers soaked, to untie and retie my laces twice and to generally faff around.

Pre Race

I was waiting to start, when I became aware of a male runner scrabbling around on the floor picking up worms. He was fighting a losing battle and I suspect a few worms would have been trampled by runners. Slightly surreal!

The race started with a lap around a very muddy and undulating Beacon Park. This short lap set the tone for the rest of the race. After leaving Beacon Park we ran past Minster Pool, through the centre of Lichfield, over a wobbly bridge and onto the route of the Lichfield 10k. Once we left Lichfield, I was so focused on running and not breaking something – there were a lot of potholes, mud and uneven surfaces – I can’t actually recall much of the route between the third and fifth miles.

Highlights included running past an Army shooting range and an abandoned assault course, into Hopwas Woods and then up a huge hill.

The course was described as “fast and relatively flat” and as suitable for runners of all abilities. However, in my humble opinion, the section through Hopwas Woods was anything but flat.

The hill between approximately five and six miles was epic. Had I known how long the hill was I would have probably ‘given up’ and walked. Not knowing where I was going was definitely an advantage.

I reached the top of ‘Mount Everest’ and immediately found myself attempting to navigate myself down a really steep hill. It was so steep I was constantly trying and failing to slow myself down. Tripping over one of the numerous loose stones would have ended in disaster. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to make it to the bottom of a hill.

After leaving the peace and tranquillity of Hopwas Woods, the route briefly ran parallel to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal – have I mentioned how I have a serious phobia of canals? – through Hopwas and Coton and then into the outskirts of Tamworth.

Hopwas Woods[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

Although I was thrilled to leave the energy-sapping mud behind, I must admit that I found the final couple of miles of the route a little disappointing. There is nothing more demoralising than running along completely deserted streets and through a slightly dubious looking industrial estate and having to dodge dog mess and broken glass. I guess that the organisers had to make sure that route actually measured 10 miles.

The final section in the grounds of Tamworth Castle was mentally tough. Fortunately, I had been warned that I would have to complete a lap of the grounds before reaching the finish. I made sure that I saved enough for a ‘sprint’ finish, checked that I wouldn’t be sharing my finish line photos with runners in fancy dress and crossed the line feeling amazing.

Finish 2[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

Finish 1[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

I stopped my Garmin and found out that I’d completed the 10 mile run in approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. I was thrilled with both my time and with myself. For once I hadn’t even contemplated taking a sneaky walking break.

I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and a banana and took a couple of minutes to compose myself. I then walked the short distance to collect my race t-shirt, medal and goody bag, stuck my new t-shirt on over my sweaty kit, presented myself with my plastic medal and tried and failed to take a respectable selfie. It took me five minutes to pluck up the courage to ask a friendly policeman to take a photo for me.

Post race

I’m aware that this race report has turned into an essay so I’ll stop waffling now and will leave you with a selection of the Strava stats from the race.

After the Cathedral to Castle Run reminded me how much I love off-road running, I’ve already entered next year’s race. As an added bonus, the goody bag contained a flyer for a 10k race in Hopwas Woods I had no idea existed. I’ve added this event to my race calendar.

I just have to hope that my right knee recovers ASAP. It’s feeling a little niggly at the moment.

Race Ratings:

  • Cost: 9/10 – £25 (all profits went to charity and the entry fee included free downloads of official race photos)
  • Course: 9/10
  • Medal: 4/10
  • Race t-shirt: 10/10
  • Goody Bag: 2/10 (full of random flyers and not a lot else)

Would you rather have free downloads of race photos or a ‘proper’ metal medal? There has been a lot of debate complaints about the plastic medal we were given on Sunday. According to Facebook, some runners only run for  medals.

Do you have any slightly irrational phobias? As a hydrologist people find my phobia of canals really amusing.


9 thoughts on “Race Report: Cathedral to Castle Run

  1. Maria @ Maria Runs says:

    Well done! I hope your knee is OK now.
    It sounds like a great run- those local smaller events are always better in my opinion.
    I think I’d choose a medal over photos because usually my race photos are terrible and never to be looked at again! But then again, I am also happy with a technical t-shirt if it fits well because I will actually use it, whereas the medal hangs on the wall but doesn’t do anything useful!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Maria. My knee is still a little bit niggly so I’m not going to run until the weekend. I’m a huge fan of smaller events, they are always a lot better than the large, corporate events. Having said that, I’m slightly fickle because I’m really looking forward to the London 10,000 and the Royal Parks Half.
      When I first started running I was addicted to medals, I remember being gutted when I was handed a diary and not a medal at the end of a run. Now I’ve not really got anywhere to put them I prefer a technical t-shirt. I was slightly selective when it came to picking photos to use with my blog. The photographers managed to capture me 12 times, and in a couple of photos I look like I was hating life whereas in reality I loved every second of the run.


  2. AnnaTheApple says:

    Well done on a cracking run! That elevation as well…blimey.
    I love it when they have free photos. I would rather pay more money for the race and have this (and then a cut goes to the photographer).
    Hmm plastic medals. Not sure about that… depends how much I’ve paid I guess. But if it came down to photos or medals, probably photos! Even if they were horrendous haha.


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Anna. The uphill was challenging, the downhill was scary. So much for relatively flat. I dread to think what the organisers class as hilly or undulating. The plastic medal is so tacky, I almost binned it on Sunday. I guess if I had never run an event before (there were a lot of first timers) then I would have been really annoyed. The technical t-shirt will come in useful and the free photo downloads (I had 12) more than compensated for the medal. I hope some of the entry fee went to the race photographer!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dorothea says:

    I liked reading the essay of your race report! Great time! And I also like off road running. Weird about the worms, though.
    also, I’d rather have the free photos than the medal. Plus, it was for a good cause!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks! I’m pleased you liked my race report essay. Worm man was a little random, I can’t say I’ve ever come across a runner trying to rescue worms before. He was definitely fighting a losing battle as there were dozens of worms and almost 1000 runners waiting to squash them. I was really pleased when I discovered we were getting free photos, more race organisers should do the same.

      Liked by 1 person

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