Cambridge Boundary Run

A selection of images from the Cambridge Boundary Run marathon on March 11. With a time of 2:52, Benjamin Thomas led home hundreds of runners on the mixed-terrain course around Cambridge.

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Sun, sea and sand are not for everyone. If you prefer a more temperate trip, stay at home and head for one of Britain’s wondrous woods. Here the Woodland Trust’s Andy Bond lists his favourite forest trails.


1 Great knott Wood,

For centuries, Great Knott Wood near Newby Bridge has been a working wood, providing oak bark for the tanning trade, charcoal for iron and gunpowder productions, something that continues to this day. The ancient woodland on the south-west shore of Lake Windermere within the Lake District, covers more than 40 hectares of sloping ground.
Plan your run A 5.5-mile run takes in the beautiful village of Finsthwaite and a circuit around High Dam.

2 Kings Wood, Cornwall
Kings Wood is ancient and atmospheric, set on the steep sides of the Pentewan Valley, between St Austell and the sea. In late spring it is carpeted in bluebells, though it is beautiful year-round.
Plan your run The Pentewan Leisure Trail follows the western boundary between the wood edge and the St Austell River, forming part of the Cornish Way and linking the wood
to local towns and villages. There are lots of steep and undulating trails to choose from.




3 Pepper Wood, Worcestershire
A mile from the M5 lies a fragment of medieval England. It’s alive with wildlife at any time of the year, so should come as no surprise that it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In medieval times it was part of the Forest of Feckenham.
Plan your run A 6.5-mile route starts from Pepper Wood Car Park, on Dondale Road. Pepper Wood is a 10-minute walk from the village of Fairfield.

4 Hackfall Wood, North Yorkshire
This ancient woodland has been restored to its former glory. Hidden in among the trees are original features, such as grottoes, glades, rustic temples and waterfalls, as well as carpets of bluebells in spring, and a vast array of birds. It lies at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, within the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The 120 acres of ancient semi-natural woodland sit within a steep rocky gorge of the River Ure, where a series of pools and weirs tumble into the mighty river.
Plan your run A four-mile run takes you around the site.

5 Joyden’s Wood, London
Set on a hilltop just 19 miles from London, Joyden’s is a hidden secret. An Anglo-Saxon bank runs through the ancient woodland. Some eight metres wide and two metres deep, it was constructed 1500 years ago to keep the Romans out of Kent.
Plan your run The run picks up the London Loop long-distance path. In spring there are dragonflies, damselflies and kingfishers darting along the banks of the River Cray.

Pic courtesy George Turnbull

Pic courtesy George Turnbull

6 Carnmoney Hill, Belfast
Stalked by the ghosts of Vikings, witches and highwaymen, a run on Carnmoney Hill offers balcony views of Belfast. The hill has hidden chambers used to house fleeing Vikings. There are ghosts about too, including the spirit of Mary Butters, who they say poisoned three people. It’s a steep climb but it’s worth it for the views of the city and the coast.
Plan your run Start this 8.5-mile run at the Valley Leisure Centre. Prepare to be awed by the vista from the top!

7 Smithills Estate, Bolton
Steeped in history and shadowed by the Winter Hill TV mast, the Smithills Estate is a rich mosaic of grassland, moorland and bog habitats.
Plan your run The rugged and numerous hills are not for the
faint-hearted. A tough but rewarding run takes you from Smithills Hall uphill to a telephone mast where the reward is great views across the countryside.

8 Glen Finglas, Scotland
Sitting at the heart of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, this is an expanse of ancient woodland, lochs and open heathland. The woods are buzzing with nature. Red deer and otters can be seen, and if you’re lucky, you may just catch sight of a golden eagle.Plan your run Running these hills is a real physical challenge, so be prepared! The loop starts at the Lendrick Hill car park and weaves its way between waterfalls, mountains and woodland.

9 Bovey Valley, Devon
Bovey Valley, in the south east corner of Dartmoor National Park, features an enchanting cluster of three woodlands, Hisley Wood, Houndtor Wood and Pullabrook Wood which contrasts with the starker landscape that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. There is some wonderful scenery and some brilliant fell running to be had here too. Each year the Woodland Trust runs the Bovey Beauty fell race (Sunday 23 September this year). This ten mile race is a real challenge across hilly terrain. It starts at Drakeford Bridge, climbing up to Hunters Tor in a circular route back to the start. Have a go at it! 






The very first Montane Cheviot Goat Winter Ultra took place at 05:30 on Saturday 2 December 2017. With 85 competitors on the start line at Ingram, Northumberland, the atmosphere was quiet, focused and tense.

In the darkness at 05:30 on Saturday 2 December, the remote village of Ingram in Northumberland finds itself playing host to 85 determined ultra runners.

With race registration opening the day before, runners have passed the stringent kit checks, safety briefing and have exchanged words of camaraderie with fellow participants. While shorter races centre on a competitive element, ultras like the Montane Goat are different. As competitor John Parkin puts it: “[The Montane Goat] is not a race but an expedition”.

Survival and course completion are key, over and above setting a new record or new personal best. Ultra running competitors look out for each other, sometimes even sacrificing their own races to ensure fellow athletes are safe. The ultra running community is tight knit and this shows in the inaugural Montane Goat with mutual respect radiating from all on the start line.

Eyes are on Czech Pavel Paloncy, Jim Mann and Carol Morgan. With a wealth of experience between them, expectations are high that they will be on the podium. But first they must tackle 55 miles, 9,500 ft of ascent and full winter conditions.

The runners set off towards the first marshal point at Northfieldhead, headtorches bobbing in the dark. The pace is steady and competitors are fairly tightly packed at this early stage. Mann is the first through, but swiftly followed by Paloncy and Andy Berry. As the sun rises and the race progresses, the lead group works together in turns to break a route through the snowy Cheviot conditions.

The firs snow of the season was no obstacle by Paul Mitchell (Wildman Media)

The firs snow of the season was no obstacle by Paul Mitchell (Wildman Media)

The frontrunners gradually become more strung out over the course. The ground conditions, sheer relentlessness and isolation of possibly one of the last wild places in England takes its toll:

“Snow covered iced bogs are the order of the day for the next hour and in the dark this is relentless. On and on and on. Choose a direction and trust the ice? Follow the tracks that disappear? Make your own path? Every second a deliberate choice has to be made and it is as mentally exhausting as physical. I get it wrong only once and my left leg disappears” comments Parkin.

Despite the mental and physical challenges, race organiser Andy Clark notes: “The weather was perfect throughout the race with an impeccable mix of sun, blue sky, cloud topped summits, wind and a small period of rain. The ground was tough going with heavy snowfall leading up to the event meaning the frozen peat bogs on the higher ground had a thick covering of snow and the slightly above zero daytime temperatures led to some interesting climbs and descents as some of the snow melted.”

By the time the first runners reach the single, cosy checkpoint at Barrowburn Farm, Berry and Mann are running together, with Paloncy in 3rd. From this point, Berry and Mann seem to make a concerted effort to pull away, taking advantage of every minute. Heading towards the Pennine Way, they cover some of the more challenging peat bog, snow and ice covered terrain. But they set the tone for the remainder of the race, crossing the finish line in 1st= back at Ingram in a total time of 11:33:43, just over 30 minutes ahead of Paloncy who takes 3rd with 12:10:53.

In the women’s race, Carol Morgan starts as she means to continue – in control. Establishing an early lead of 14 minutes by the first marshal point, her determination propels her not only to 1st lady, but 12th in the race overall, with a time of 13:12:25, over two hours ahead of the next lady, Becki Penrose.

Parkin recalls his encounter with Morgan: “This is a race for people with big hearts and strong minds…I’m too cold and tired to even feel sorry for myself today. I can’t even muster the energy to give myself a talking to so I plod on and on with three people overtaking me before the [Cheviot] summit. First Ben [Rowley] runs past and he’s looking and sounding pretty chipper, then Carol [Morgan] who motors on at the out and back and shares a cheery word”.

As well as the racers, the marshals and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team members also face a test of endurance during the Montane Goat. Heavy snowfall days earlier serves to make access to some of the marshal points challenging for those needing to set up safe haven tents. And as the 24 hours continues, the temperatures dip, visibility reduces and the winds pickup, delivering brand new hurdles to all involved.

Rather evilly, after the warmth of Barrowburn Farm, race organisers set the route to summit The Cheviot (2,674 ft), then promptly backtrack before crossing the worst of the mire. A further summit follows, before the final descent towards the finish at Ingram Village Café. Afterwards amongst competitors, there is the general sentiment that the Montane Goat is the hardest race they have ever run.

Parkin summarises his Montane Goat experience, remembering the prevailing exhilaration above the mental and physical pain:

“Just as I get in the van I catch a look at my reflection in the windows and I’m grinning, the thought flickers across my mind that I will be better prepared next year and now I also know the route. It’s a funny thing running events like these, for me it’s a microcosm of what life is about, a true test of who you are. It’s not about where you come relative to others it’s about whether you got the best out of yourself and challenged your perceptions of what is possible”.

To read more about the race, visit: or head to

Stranda Fjord Trail Race

Almost 400 runners from 15 different nations, among them the winner of the Extreme Skyrunning World Series this year, Jonathan Albon, started the climb up to Lievarden in pouring rain last Saturday (October 20) for the Stranda Fjord Trail Race. 

Lievarden is the first peak on the SFTR course and usually provides the runners with a unique fjord view as the course follows the ridge high above. But on this occasion the fog kept the view well hidden, and the rain made the trail muddier than previous years, giving the runners extra challenges on their way to the highest and most alpine peak of the course, Fremste Blåhorn. The rain had also made the rocks slipper, meaning runners had to play it smart and move at a controlled pace down the scree, descending the ridge down to softer ground on the marshes towards Vardnakken.

Here in the lower terrain the visibility improved and the runners could enjoy some softer ground on the way down to the village of Stranda at sea level, where cheering locals welcomed them along the course. After refilling on food and drinks at the food station, the runners had only 10km left until the finish line at Strandafjellet. But the climb up to Roaldshorn averaged 13% gradient. 

Even though most runners really felt the last climb up to Roaldshorn in their legs and lungs, everyone was smiling when they crossed the finish line and could enjoy the view of the fjord as the fog had lifted during the day, the rain had stopped and the sun was peaking through the clouds. 

Albon won the men's race with a time of 4 hours 5 minutes 40 seconds, while his wife, Henriette, won the women's race with 5:09:47.

Jonathan Albon on his way over Heimste Blåhorn. Photo: Johan Inge Kistrand.

Jonathan Albon on his way over Heimste Blåhorn. Photo: Johan Inge Kistrand.

World record for Vertical Kilometer

The 2017 Vertical Kilometer® World Circuit closed with a new world record for the discipline at the Kilomètre Vertical® de Fully, Switzerland, Saturday, 21 October.

Italian Philip Goetsch sliced almost a full minute off the standing world record summiting the 1,000m lung-busting ascent in 28’53”.

Philip Goetsch on his way to a lung-busting world record

Philip Goetsch on his way to a lung-busting world record

Marco De Gasperi breaks Kilian Jornet's record at Mattherhorn Ultraks 46k

Marco De Gasperi used his excellent descent skills to set a time that was 34 seconds quicker than the race record of the great Kilian Jornet at the Mattherhorn Ultraks 46k yesterday.

The Italian was even running on a course that was one kilometre longer than that covered by Jornet in 2013.

Meanwhile, Netherlands' Ragna Debats arrived at the finish line in Zermatt, Switzerland, as first woman in the race, which - despite the name - was over 49k.

As if 46k and 3600m of ascent and descent were not enough, changes to the course made it longer than the original. The tough climbs were compensated by the amazing Alpine views beneath the iconic pyramidic Mattherhorn.

De Gaspari clocked 4 hours 42 minutes 51 seconds to come home in front of Spanish runner-up Eugeni Gil Ocana (4:45:15), with Switzerland's Martin Anthametten (4:48:59) third.


Debats crossed the line with her daughter in her hands in 5:52:05, having had time to pick her up near the finish. The next woman was Spain's Lai Andreu Trias in 5:53:22 and third was Spain's Aviles Sheila (6:00:17).

De Gasperi was delighted to gain his first Migu Run Skyrunner World Series race victory. He said: “I’ve been second many times behind great champions like Kilian and other young guns that are now coming. It was a long race today. My feelings were not really my best as I expected but I had to manage this until the half part of the race because I knew that after that the race becomes very hard for everyone and in the last descent I managed a couple of minutes advantage I took.

“This gives me new motivation to go on. I’m 40 years old and it’s not really easy for old men to be on top.

“The course today was quite easy and runnable for everyone but the length of the course is key to the race - for people that are quite old and maybe can keep going til the end it’s quite important. Definitely I prefer when it’s more technical [than today]. But I like the Mattherhon course because the landscape you can see here is fantastic.”

Debats, who was horse trainer in England and Germany and didn’t start running until 2009, said: “At this time of the season I noticed that I am feeling tired a little bit. I started confidently but I noticed that I wasn’t feeling 100% but I still felt okay. So I just tried to run at a good pace to test the others.

“Towards the end of the race they were getting closer again I think so I was trying to be wrong mentally as well to keep up the pace then I noticed they weren’t getting any closer.”

The 46k offered bonus points in the 22-race Skyrunner series and was part of a two-day programme of races.

The 30k wins went to Switzerland's Stephan Wenk and New Zealand's Ruth Croft. The 16k event was won by Switzerland's Victoria Kreuzer and Portugal's Cesar Costa.

All abilities were catered for and also included were a 2.5km uphill-only race, relay and kids' race. However, with only around two thirds of starters in the longest race completing the course in under 10 hours, just finishing was a great achievement

Red Bull X-Alps

Photo credit: Tyler Tate @TSquaredSports

Photo credit: Tyler Tate @TSquaredSports

Photo credit:  Red Bull X-Alps

Photo credit: Red Bull X-Alps

The world’s most extreme alpine adventure race has begun. No time for winding roads and obscure routes, competitors of Red Bull X-Alps must take to the air and trails along the most direct course to the finish. This unique straight-line distance race of 1138km traverses the Alps from Salzburg to Monaco, with seven turn points in seven different countries.

Today athletes swing past turnpoint six, with the finish line in (mental) sight. So what is happening right this moment? Christian Maurer (SUI1) is about to pass Turin and, in the lead with 155km to go, followed by B. Outters (FRA4), who is now traversing the Valle d’Aosta with 222km to go, and P. Guschlbauer (AUT1) is just resting on the banks of the Torrente Anza in third with 280km left.

Typically changeable weather conditions will take endurance to the extreme in this race and each athlete must have expert support with strategy and nutrition. It is impossible not to be inspired by the immense ambition of all 31 athletes, whose every move is being broadcasted by Live Tracking technology as we speak - have a look now!

Written by Kate Milsom

South Wales 100

This is a race specifically not for beginners. The South Wales 100 is a 105-mile race that is 90% on trails and took place on June 23 this year. Last year only a quarter of entrants managed to finish, so no wonder it is a UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) qualifying race that will win a finisher six valuable UTMB points.

The race starts and finishes in Cardiff, following a loop across the South Wales Valleys and Brecon Beacons with several summits along the way. Interestingly, the race starts at 7pm, forcing participants to strap on their head torches after only a few hours and stride on into the night. Though there will be checkpoints for refreshment, entrants must otherwise be self-sufficient with navigation and fuelling, hence the experience requirement.

The course has in total around 6400m of ascent and must be completed in under 40 hours. Such tough conditions prompt some runners to band together in teams of up to four, not to break the distance into a relay but to offer support across the whole distance. The race this year was won by newbie Jack Galloway, whose previous longest race was less than half this distance. The winner of the women's category was Karen Nash, who has blogged about her victory here

Those interested in the course may choose to take on the shorter SW50 challenge or join the SW100 walkers’ start. To get a better feel for this epic trail race, follow Jack to victory in the video below. 

Video credit: Youtube, Jack Galloway. A film by Lizzie Coe.

Written by Kate Milsom

Face de Bellevarde - Vertical Kilometre Race

For a mere 3km run you might ask what all the fuss is about - but in fact, this is a challenge of epic proportions. The race has an overall ascent of 970m, including an inconceivable incline of over 50%, so some may argue this is more a battle of gravity than anything else.

This past weekend, runners took to the slopes to scale Face de Bellevarde's 2798m summit. Returning champion Xavier Gachet upheld his title as king of the mountain with a time of 33 minutes 57 seconds, while another French national, newcomer Jessica Pardin (pictured below), took the women’s title in 43:08. 

La Face de Bellevarde is an iconic, black-rated piste known throughout the world as the location for the first Criterium de la Premiere Neige, the World Cup Downhill ski championships. This race is part of the Vertical Kilometer World Circuit, a new concept acting as an add-on to the Skyrunner World Series, the fifth race of which took place in Val d’Isère this same weekend.

Written by Kate Milsom

Europe's highest race

With shockingly steep vertical climbs and slippery snowfields, the fifth race of the Skyrunner World Series is considered the highest race in Europe, and not for the faint-hearted.

Starting in the well-known ski resort Val d’Isère, the 68km course travels along the Odlo High Trail Vanoise to the summit of Grande Motte at 3653m, while touching upon the Col de l'Iseran at 2764m. Competitors encountered an incredibly technically challenging route that included striding over snowfields and glaciers. 

This was a memorable year for the race as winners Luis Hernando and Megan Kimmel both set new records (Hernando pictured below). They currently both rank sixth in the series, whereas Dmitry Mityaev and Hillary Allen are in the lead at the fifth of eight stages. Competing with 300 professional ultra runners from more than 18 countries, this is no mean feat. 

Photo credit:  skyrunnerworldseries

Photo credit: skyrunnerworldseries

Written by Kate Milsom