TORQ Trail Running Weekend

Reuben_Tabner_3180Pub? I’ve never seen ultra runners move so fast as when the simple question was asked after dinner on Friday night… 15 off us had come down a day early for the TORQ Trail Running assessment weekend. Taking the opportunity to grab the best bunks and make the most of the stunning trails, oh and sample the local ales ahead of the rest of the team arriving early the next day.


Reuben_Tabner_3215 Boarding the Ferret Bus in Church Stretton with Mel another runner preferring the longer runs, and joining Adrian and Ben (AKA Papa Ferret) the adventure began… Ignoring an earlier warning and finding our way only partially blocked by a simple sign saying “Road Closed” the van full of ‘trail ferrets’ headed up on to the fell tops, along a narrow, single lane road that twisted and turned its way up the hill sides. Shear drops to deep valleys below, views of lung busting, leg burning climbs in every direction. “Snow… What Snow?” Oh we laughed and joked as the Sat-Nav guided us ever closer…. Less than 2 miles to go and we are home and dry… We can almost see the hostel and taste the waiting food…

 BUT…. as we round a corner, half a mile later… the road is… BLOCKED..! A drift 30 foot long and 3 deep is filling the road… This van is going no further, thats for shizzles…! Ben, ever the optimist has to check and out he hops, he’s sure he can find a way through… But moments later, he’s back slipping the van in to reverse and heading back the way we came… Now this wouldn’t be an issue normally… But the Ferret Bus is a bit longer than your average van… and the turning/passing places were… filled with snow… the road was, very narrow and dropped away steeply on one side and was cut from the bank on the other… “Turn around when possible!” Chimed the Sat-nav… we laughed at the irony as we inched back… in reverse..! So close, yet so far..!


Saturday came streaming through the hostel windows, and slowly woke me from deep slumbers… movement in the room indicated that it was time to get up… there was still time for an early morning run, chance to see the local hills up close and personal before breakfast and the rest of the team arriving… Reuben_Tabner_3184


As the room started to fill as others arrived, it was amazing to talk to so many other runners who were driven by the love of the ultra distance. Everyone was filled with different experiences and motivations, but all with stories to tell…

Julie and Simon from Freestak, the guys behind the TORQ Trail Team struggled to bring the volume under control and get the morning of interactive talks underway… First up was Ben a nutritionist expert from TORQ. Explaining the importance of correct fulling and hydration, not just for current exercise, but most importantly for recovery, so you can run tomorrow and the next day. He opened up a can of worms as we discussed current trends in trail running nutrition and how we fuel longer runs. Pork pies didn’t go down well, but I was happy to learn that the Bacon Sarnie is a valid fuel (although Ben says only with the rind removed, no butter and on white bread).

After a small break in which we got to sample most of the various TORQ products, (The Rhubarb and Custard Gel is amazing – I’m ordering a box of those when I get home) it was the turn of Ultra Legend Stuart Mills to take to the floor. UltraStu as he is know has won numerous ultra events, including the Lakeland100. Like his running, his lectures have the habit of being on the ultra length side of things, but the room filled with over 50 die hard trail runners didn’t seem to notice the time ticking by, as another animated interactive session took place, which given half a chance would have gone on well in to the evening as here was something we all loved to talk about. The main things I took from this talk are:

  • Runners think negatively in terms of their ability.
  • During preparation you need to prepare the body and mind as one for what it will likely encounter during a trail race.
  • Physical training: It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ve just got to do it!

Reuben_Tabner_3217The hills were calling… so we changed in to running kit for a “Non-Competitive” run along the Long Mynd as the weather changed. Running at a steady pace through the drizzle, we discussed all things running, as we en-counted snow drifts, bogs and lake like puddles. Reuben_Tabner_3203As we climbed higher, so the visibility reduced, but we flew along across the fells, fueled by TORQ and a love of the mud… Hidden away in the mist and fog, shivering in his jacket we passed a lonely photographer, waiting camera in hand for these slightly odd “trailies” who think this is fun… At least it was dry under foot…Reuben_Tabner_3201

And then it was time to turn back down hill, along the river and to the waiting hot cold showers and the pleasant surprise of TORQ Refuel shakes. Followed by… erm… the pub again…


Reuben_Tabner_3205 Sunday dawned bright and windy but much clearer than the day before, as we donned running kit and damp shoes to head out again to see the best of the local hills. Again we started with a good climb up on to the fells. Reuben_Tabner_3210Passing through muddy farm yards, lambs and sheep waiting to be feed, whilst being buffeted by the wind. The distance quickly fell away as our conversations turned again to our mutually shared love…  and the views… It was a run non of us wanted to end, as we finally turned for the hostel with the wind on our backs, pushing us slowly back to real life. Reuben_Tabner_3224


Whatever the outcome of the weekend, I’ve met a great bunch of like minded individuals, learned new tricks and talked about races past and planned. A community to keep in touch with and help us through those days we receive blank stares as we try to explain to work collogues, why we are nipping out for a 20 odd mile run in the rain.

Massive thanks to our hosts The Bridges Hostel in Ratlinghope, to Julie and Simon at Freestak for coming up with the concept of the team, to Ben and Stuart for inspiring us again, to the team sponsors TORQ and most of all the 50 trailies who made the effort to come along and talk so openly about our hopes and dreams…

 The Bearded Runner…


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