2019 was my fourth year taking part in Round Sheffield Run and I have to say, it was probably my favourite so far. I will come onto the concept and the unique aspects which make the Round Sheffield Run event itself such an enjoyable running experience, but first I want to try summarise why the event was so special this year…
Round Sheffield Run allows you to participate as a pair, running as a team with a chosen run buddy. Each year my friend has been at my side to conquer the hills and trails this event throws at us, and each year we have grown more confident striding our way up rocky footpaths and skipping down pathways whilst navigating tree roots; improving on our time as a consequence. This year however my sole goal for Round Sheffield Run was simply to be able to run with my friend at my side once again. For me, there is something so wonderful about being able to take part in something I love and embrace a shared passion with a friend, who herself, is equally as special to me. It had been too long since we had last run together, and whether we took twice as long as last year or shaved a few seconds off our time, I really did not care. I knew as soon as we took our initial strides from the start line I would be happy, and I knew when we finished side by side I would still be smiling. I love the photos taken of us at throughout the event (see images) as they show the pure joy on my face. Happy running memories.
Now you know why this year’s Round Sheffield Run was personally special to me, and next you need to know why the race itself is such a standout in my racing calendar. In previous years I have reviewed the race stage by stage (2016, 2017 and 2018) however this year I felt like doing something a little different… If you scroll through the Round Sheffield Run website you will see it makes some pretty bold claims about the event. I have to say I 100% agree with them all and feel they set the tone for the event and also for my 2019 review very well:
The Round Sheffield Run is the original multi-stage trail running enduro.
I have seen nothing like Round Sheffield Run; we originally entered because of the fact it sounded a little different, and it certainly is. It is refreshing to be able to take part in a running event without the conventional race pressure, and instead just seeing it as a running challenge. I always take control of the running ‘dibber’ which is used to start and end each stage of running – it is my Garmin for the day – and I take pride in striding toward each checkpoint and getting us safely logged in and out.
The event is formed of 11 individually timed stages each with their own challenge and character to make up 20km of racing over the 24.5km route.
Each stage most definitely has its own feel and specific sections which make each one memorable. I say this, although every year my friend and I seem to somehow forget about certain aspects – usually involving how hilly a stage is! Our favourite stage this year was stage 3, a glorious descent through woodland. Here it felt like we were flying through the trees, and the freedom and fun which filled our body's was simply refreshing. Stage 2 remained one the biggest tests, named King of the Mountain it consists of one long drawn out ascent, which finishes sharply on a rocky climb to the top. We supported each other to this peak, and then enjoyed my favourite recovery stage; a walk along a small road which I always joke must look like the world’s worst running race to passers-by – everyone walking! This year we also showed our talents on the road during stage 10. This stage includes a section of road running – still uphill of course - and toward the end of the race it can hurt the legs. Our joint approach was to take it nice and steady and finish feeling strong, and with this tactic, we consistently conquered that climb, running into the woodland at the top and keeping moving. The steps that appear later in the stage still turned my legs to jelly – but I was proud of the strength in us both.
A superb running journey linking some of the top trails and parkland Sheffield has to offer. It would be a tough task to find anywhere in the UK that showcases these kind of trails and scenery within its city limits.
The Round Sheffield Run route makes me envious I do not live in Sheffield. My friend and I spoke as we ran about how amazing it must be to have this kind of terrain on your doorstep, alongside the conventional city running offer. It is simply stunning and a real hidden gem. My friend and I also reflected on how uplifting it was to be running in such an pure and natural environment; it didn’t feel like I was effectively in a race at times, but instead a morning out exploring with a friend.
Between stages competitors have the opportunity to rest, relax, and regroup with friends (new and old) and refocus before the next stage begins The novel concept creates a supportive and friendly social vibe.
The social nature of Round Sheffield Run is another great positive of the event, and not just for the paired running aspect. We always make new friends on our way round, chatting to and joking with fellow runners. This year in particular I learnt the (unofficial) definition of what ‘kretinous behaviour’ is (don’t ask!) and was educated in who Frank Sidebottom was – I mean what other running event can you say that happens in?!
The support round the course is also something special.
This year this point can be solely reserved to the woman and child sat by the checkpoint at the start of Stage 6. The pair had a coolbox full of ice pops and were sat methodically cutting the tops off each coloured pole and handing them out to us thirsty runners. Everyone was so grateful for these, and it was a small act of kindness which I am sure will be fondly remembered by so many.
The unique format breaks the route down into stages. Each stage being raced, and competitors receiving both results for each stage as well as a combined overall result. Plenty of opportunity for friendly competition!
As mentioned before, this year was not about beating any time for me, in fact it never really has been about time at Round Sheffield Run, but progression in our overall result has just naturally happened. Our result print out this year showed we were slightly slower than last year – finishing in 1:43:50. This time still shows a huge improvement from some of our earlier runs and also saw us ranked as 15th overall female pair - but seriously, who really cares!
To top it all off a festival atmosphere at the end with draft ales, tasty food, and great DJ to ensures that everyone can celebrate in style.
The event village really does have a wonderful relaxed feel. Deckchairs and hay bales cover the grass area and are surrounded by stalls, which create a little pocket of post run perfection. We managed to get ourselves sat in a set of deckchairs, and probably the biggest revelation is I sat here sipping a post run beer which I actually liked the taste of! I hate beer normally, but I wanted something to celebrate this wonderful day as we sat in the sun with medals adorned around our necks.
Simply put - I love Round Sheffield Run.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...