Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Mother Land

Trail running is something that I really don't seem to be doing much of recently. I normally see a hill, or a bog, point in a direction and run until I feel like stopping. Trods are the main way of going around, and when they aren't there, its a beeline through the heather/bog/bracken.

However, I'm back on the Isle of Wight, where I grew up. There is pretty much no open country here, it is all footpaths and bridleways, and the most boggy it gets is going though marshland when you aren't quite in the right place. Yes, ok, its kind of like a bog, but it feels different...

I've been out for a couple of runs so far, I'm only here for a week and am not intending on running every single day. I know this island like the back of my hand, its not like there are places I haven't seen or places that I haven't been to. It is an absolute pleasure to run from my house to places that as a child I thought were so far away you NEEDED a car to get to. It is a delight to run along those paths that I used to walk along as a child, and it is fabulous to be back on the island without the island mentality.

The Island mentality?
Let me explain.
The Isle of Wight is 24 miles across. The furthest you can travel in a straight line when walking is 32 miles- ish without falling off the end, or having to go in a different direction. If you go somewhere in the car its almost a special occasion, and as for going to Newport- a full 25 mins in the car. Well, you'd better have a good reason for driving there, otherwise it can wait until there is another reason to go as well! Running 10miles? Well, you might as well have run to the ends of the earth and back.

I love running here, and I hate it. The hills are small, but they are LONG. You may not go above 200 metres above sea level, but when you do, you know you have climbed every step of the way FROM sea level. Sometimes even from below it. Running yesterday, the paths were, for the most part, rock hard, yet there are places where I was ankle deep in mud and the local "blue slipper" clay. Nice.

In terms of long distance trails, there are about 13 of them, including the Tennyson trail, the Worsley trial, the Bembridge trail etc. and the round the island trail, which follows the coastal footpath all the way around. You can swap and change which trails you go on, and there are a myriad of smaller random footpaths which take you to any number of small backwaters and delightful villages throughout the island.
For a long time this has been a place for walkers and cyclists to come. I don't think that runners, especially trail runners are all that common. I passed an old couple on a path yesterday, and instead of the general "good morning" or "good afternoon" greeting that you expect, they said "well done", which was a new one on me!
There is of course the annual Fell Championships, held over in Ventnor, but above and beyond that, there are hundreds of places to run and enjoy yourself across the island. Its virtually impossible to get lost, and if you do, there is a natural boundary of the coast to stop you from getting TOO lost.

This wasn't quite intended as a "COME TO THE ISLE OF WIGHT" type blog, but it seems to have ended up as such. Its a lovely place to be, and a lovely place to run. Come and explore it.

Its funny how you just don't take pictures of where you live. Looking on the computer, all I can find amongst photos of foreign places are pictures of Mum and Dad on sledges in the garden, and I don't think they'd thank me for putting those up here.
So I shall go and take a few, looking at the weather they might not be the best ever, but at least it might give a real representation of what it's like here.

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