Imerys Trail Half Marathon...a real toughie!
Race number 7 in the Cornish Multi-Terrain Race Series, the Imerys Trail Half Marathon takes runners on a tough and challenging course around the china clay pits near St. Austell. With over 400m of cumulative ascent across soft trail, this is quite a gruelling half marathon, with an ascent comparable to February's Bodmin Fire and Rescue Half. A chain of cumulus clouds thankfully shaded the china clay pits during the early part of the race, creating ideal running conditions and also a few showers, however hot sunshine developed as the race went on and added to the difficulty. The race starts pretty mundanely with a couple of laps of the college, before climbing on grassy trail up to a country lane whereupon it continues to climb further at a fairly easy gradient. Runners are then directed left onto a nice section of trail, which quickly becomes fast as it descends rapidly into a forested valley. However, from here the real climbing starts, a gruelling ascent of almost 200m, seemingly relentless. There are brief respites as the gradient briefly levels off, but not for long. Runners climb high above the surrounding landscape with fine views eastward towards Dartmoor and later westward across West Cornwall. Finally, the worst of the climbing is done and a faster flatter section follows around 7-8 miles before finally all the climbing is rewarded with a steep descent that is somewhat rough and rocky, and later on also a bit muddy in places. However runners are not out of the woods yet, so to speak, as a relentless ascent of around a mile awaits between 11-12 miles, brutal at that stage of the race. However from 12 miles onwards it's largely downhill, allowing for a fast finish. Great support along the route with some very welcome wet sponges, just what a hot runner needs. A full marathon was also on offer, which Jenna can comment on. Overall, a tough but very rewarding race on what turned out to be quite a hot day. Would I do it again? Definitely. Is it ideal as a first half marathon? Definitely not.