To quote the official website, the Scott’s Dirty Dozen Trail Race is “quite simply the best trail running event in the area.”
I happen to agree.
Set amongst the beautiful backdrop of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, it’s the true definition of a trail run – with plenty of single-track, forestry trails, mud, hills and the infamous ‘ditch of doom’.
This was my second time running this event and both times it’s failed to disappoint. It’s a stunning, yet challenging trail run which meanders it’s way around the many trails on the chase. Whether you’re sliding through mud, leaping over tree roots or wading through thigh-high ice-cold water – it never fails to make you smile and brings the essence of fun back into running. Yes, you take it seriously – but the best way to enjoy this event is to go in with an open mind, take in the surroundings and enjoy the simplicity of what’s on offer. It’s trail running in it’s finest form.
With a later start time of 11am, it allows you to take in a spot of parkrun tourism beforehand so never one to miss out an opportunity, I met up at with Maria and Darren to run Cannock Chase parkrun. As is now the norm, the sensible head soon disappeared and I went out quicker than planned – finishing (for me) in a somewhat respectable time of 23:31 – 32nd place out of 254 parkrunners and 5th in my age category. Not too shabby given my current levels of fitness.
With parkrun complete, it was now time for the main event.
We joined up with the other lion contingents: Nicola, Helen, Rachel, Nicy and Karen and excitedly waited around ready for the off. At 10:50am we were called into the starting pen – huddled together with other like-minded individuals nervously waiting to be let off the leash.
The opening couple of miles are mostly on single-file trails which weave their way through the tree line. With 251 runners crossing the start line, it gets pretty congested and overtaking is nigh on impossible so I found myself settling into the pace of the person in front and going with the flow – overtaking only when the trails allow. It wasn’t an issue, the terrain is varied enough to hold your attention and full concentration is needed to maintain your footing. It’s gloriously muddy in sections which plenty of twists, turns and hills to navigate.
By mile 3 the trails had widened into hard-packed trails and I found myself running solo for the next mile or so until I met up with Rachel and we ran the remainder of the race together. It’s definitely a social event and best enjoyed in the company of others.
By mile 5 we reached the self proclaimed ‘ditch of doom’ – a vast water section covering approximately 20 metres of ice-cold, thigh-high water with sinking mud and hidden branches lurking underfoot. A real highlight of the day but bloomin’ cold!
The remaining 2 miles are much of the same, on either single-file forestry trails or wider hard-packed tracks but with plenty of elevation in between. At just shy of 1000ft over 12k, it has it’s fair share of climbing.
Finishing in a time of 1:18 – I can’t think of many better ways to keep me entertained on a Saturday morning!
We were rewarded at the finish line with a medal, a packet of crisps and a bag of Haribo – what’s not to like – and all for less than the bargain price of £20!