In pictures: Sheffield Round Run tests hardy runners in debut winter edition of challenging city race
If you went down to Endcliffe Park on Sunday the number of mud-splattered people staggering home might have been quite a surprise.
But these were not unfortunate souls who had fallen into a bog. No, these were the 2,000 hardy runners who completed the very first winter edition of the Sheffield Round Run trail running challenge.
The run follows the route of the famous Sheffield Round Walk from Endcliffe to Ringinglow, down to Ecclesall Woods, through Beauchief, Chancet Wood and Graves Park before finishing through Meersbrook Park and up through Nether Edge before heading back down to the park.
So plenty of hills through the 20 kilometres split over 11 different stages, all with a different character, and thanks to rain and snow, there was plenty of mud on Sunday as well.
"I was probably checking the weather about six or seven times a day in the run up”, admits Doug Banks, director of race organiser Kandoo Events.
"There was a little bit of ice on the day right at the top of stage three but nothing too bad. The day before when it snowed there were probably two inches of snow going up the Porter.
"For some people probably it was perfect conditions for trail running – it was definitely a challenge. There were 2,000 runners who got round so all in all it was a success but it was tough.”
A bit of snow wouldn’t have stopped runners, and hard ground would have made installing the race infrastructure easier for organisers who had to struggle carrying equipment over muddy fields, Doug admits.
But it is important they’d have had the right kit, such as shoe spikes which could have been used for some stages and then popped in a bag in others.
People travel across the country to try the Round Sheffield Run, due to its different approach with timed stages – participants can walk between the different sections and receive a result for each stage, as well as an overall one.
Doug said that locals and visitors alike leave with a new appreciation of Sheffield's green and varied geography.
"We obviously have a lot of people from Sheffield running it but we usually also have a lot of people coming up to Sheffield for the first time from all over the UK.
"Even the locals say they didn’t realise how all these different parts of the city fitted together until after they have run it. It’s a common thing for people to say it gives them a greater appreciation of their own city.”
“We try and do our bit for the Outdoor City by saying Sheffield is not just a steel city, it has all these green spaces which are amazing.”
The first person to finish Sunday’s race was Jarlath McKenna, in just one hour, seven minutes, just a couple of minutes slower than a summer winner.
The idea of a winter edition of the run had been floated previously, but came about as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic cancelling the 2020 summer event, and then postponing last winter’s race.
It meant some people had waited two years to take part after having to defer their place twice – a long time when it comes to maintaining fitness.
Doug said it had given some people a strong reason to train through the festivities of Christmas and New Year.
He added: “The mood was very upbeat and happy – there’s something about having it at the beginning of the year, it kicks off the year on a high."
The organisers will now reflect on the event and gather feedback before deciding if there will be another winter edition but the summer race is already scheduled for June 25 and 26, 2022.
Splitting the event over two days gives runners more flexibility and space as well as allowing more people to enter.
For more details on the summer race visit https://www.roundsheffieldrun.com/
Pictures by Dominic R Worrall