First Trail Run & Lessons Learnt

Yesterday we ventured into the Surrey Hills for our first trail run which saw us 90% gushing about the scenery and 10% being lost. We both loved it and are going to make it a regular thing but it got us thinking about how we should better prepare ourselves for trail running.

I’d been wanting to get out onto the local trails for awhile now and managed to convince Dano, a staunch road runner, to join me so we jumped in the car for the short drive to Leith Hill, the second highest point in south-east England.

The planned 9.5 km route was from the book ‘The Walks Near Dorking’ (£5 at Waterstones) and I’d taken a photo of the map on my phone so we could refer to it while running. It started near the Starveall Corner car park and was to take us over Holmbury Hill on a loop back to the Leith Hill summit.

We ran through forest, dense scrub, and farmland to the summit of Holmbury Hill where we took in the view of the Surrey countryside from the viewpoint, along with other runners and cyclists who were already on the summit when we arrived.

After admiring the view we headed down the main trail into the most amazing woodland. The scenery was similar to Canada or New Zealand as we ran through trails surrounded by alpine trees.

After coming downhill out of the forest we found ourselves in the small village of Holmbury St Mary, complete with a small green, a pub and a church. It was here that we ended up getting lost and just couldn’t figure out where we were on the route or how to rejoin it.

We went around Holmbury St Mary a couple of times and with the mobile running low on battery and signal we were directed by a local to follow a road we had been on about 30 minutes earlier. By this stage, there was more power walking than running going on.

By luck, Dano recognised an opening along the road which we had come out of towards the start of the run so we took this route back to the car. It was a lot of uphill running/walking through forest until we recognised the area where we had first set off.

Getting back to the car it got us thinking about what we should carry on a trail run, in case of emergency, and how we should prepare, listed below.

Can any trail runners out there give us beginners some tips on what to carry when on a trail run?

  • Hard copy route map
  • Energy snacks and drink
  • Fully charged GPS mobile phone
  • Compass
  • An extra thermal layer


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2 thoughts on “First Trail Run & Lessons Learnt

  1. I’m not an avid trail runner, but I definitely love it! Great list! I always make sure to bring a protein bar and plenty of water. Having proper trail running shoes also makes a big difference. Also, even when you are running as a pair, I think it’s a good idea that at least one other person knows where you are going just in case!

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