There’s something pretty special about Winter running. When it’s so cold there’s frost on the ground and the puddles are frozen, and there you are strapping on your trainers and heading out for a run.

Saturday was the host for the fourth race in the Foxtrails Winter Series. The location had jumped along the coast slightly and we were back at the home ofΒ Total Warrior in Scotland, Balgone Estate.

The air and everything around was frozen, the ice trapping the mud that had been so soft and challenging just four months ago. But it was almost a pleasant cold, once you got started, with the sun illuminating the terrain in that soft wintery way that it does.

The 5km race started just before the 10km and with almost 300 participants on Saturday it has been Foxtrails biggest event of the series so far. And what a benchmark to set for those newbies, it was everything a Winter trail race should be. The route was breathtaking, challenging and unrelenting. The ground that had been lucky enough to see some sun exposure was slightly soft and boggy, and I disappeared into ankle deep mud on more than one occasion, and yet there was so much that was still secured by the ice, hard and unforgiving.

The route was partly on the Total Warrior ground, and the lack of obstacles provided a stark reminder that the hills in this area aren’t as pleasant when there’s no water slide to help you descend towards the last 1km.

My running has been sparse in recent weeks, and the last time I ran this distance was way back at the night run in November, so it was utterly exhilarating being back out on the trail, falling in love with the sport all over again. I ignored my own advice of ‘dress for two miles in’ and ran with my jumper on! By mile 4 I was roasting and wishing I had worn shorts, proof that it is possible to heat up in -2 conditions.

Four races in and I’m starting to accept that the Foxtrails field is not mediocre in any shape or form. The winning 10km male and female times were 40:11 and 44:54 respectively. The 5km was won in 21:40 and again both top 10 fields were dominated with those over 35 with 7 of the top 10 in the 10km aged 35+ and 8 of the top 10 in the 5km. Running is one of these things that you can do whatever age you are, it is not, as it so often seems, about what you did personally in your last race, or how many miles you ran last week. It is, much more importantly, about the community, the people, about how many miles they ran too. Race series like the Foxtrail one bring runners together that otherwise would not run in the same field, it allows extraordinary runners to showcase their speed and finesse over tough terrain, and it allows everyone else to participate in the one thing that brings us together, and shows us that regardless of age, you can be great at this sport.

Onwards to the Half Marathon then…less than 3 weeks to go…

Results

5km

Fastest Male – 21:40

Fastest Female – 27:29

10km

Fastest Male – 40:11

Fastest Female – 44:54

Before I sign off, there has been a fair bit of news coverage recently about harassment in running, a lot of different stories, a lot of conflicting opinions. Read some of it here.

My opinion is that no one should have to run in a group in order to feel safe. We should feel safe whenever we exercise solo, or indeed leave the house solo. Accepting this isn’t the case is accepting that we live in an unsafe society. And that is not ok. My friend Abby happens to agree with me and has started a campaign alongside Sport Scotland in order change the behaviours of the harassers, and not the runners. She has blogged about it, which you can (and should) read here. She’s looking for help and stories to assist with her report so if you’ve got a second to help then that would be awesome!