Roaches to Shutlingsloe night run. Paul Glover

Well after semi recovering from last nights trail run with Frank Murphy and Jonny Bibb I think it’s worth going through the experience, Frank originally posted on the StokeFIT Facebook page that unless you were able to do around 20 miles of road running then this would probably to much for you, well I didn’t let this put me off too much, although I hadn’t done a long run for a number of weeks due to injury I couldn’t resist giving this a try!
Frank had been lazy throughout the day, doing some half marathon in Wales over some little hills in the morning, he then came up with some excuse about having to fix a boiler after that! (excuses excuses). When Frank finally realized he wouldn’t be able to get out of it he picked me up around 7:40pm, we met up with Jonny at the club and set off for the Roaches.
Arriving at the Roaches Frank tried to come up with yet another excuse not to do it! he had “accidentally” picked up Emily Vickerman’s bag instead of his own so didn’t have all his running gear, come on Frank you need to do better than that! anyway he finally gave in and off we set at 8:08pm the head torches were a must! as obviously there is no lighting up there so the only distance you can see is a few meters in front of yourself via the torch light. Within minutes I realized just how cold it was up there, my ears were hurting due to the freezing conditions, Jonny came to the rescue and kindly lent me a Buff which helped no end (lesson one learned, always make sure you are fully prepared for all situations).
With all of the wintry weather we have recently had there was still plenty of snow and ice around so it was time to be extra careful when it came to navigating the trails, this was never intended to be done at any great pace which was just as well, running through the snow, ice, mud & rocky terrain can be tricky enough in the day time let alone doing it at night by torch light!
Despite the cold, difficult terrain and Franks lack of navigational skills which nearly got us lost a couple of times the banter between us was brilliant with plenty to laugh about so nothing was ever going to spoil the run. Frank did mention that it was going to be hilly, well he was not wrong (for once) but I would say they were more like mountains than hills… especially the climb up to Shutlingsloe trigg point, my legs were on fire, burning with each and every step to the summit, that was one tough ascent but what a great feeling to reach the top, loved it!
Now it was time for the return journey which proved to be just as challenging as my already tired body was screaming out for a rest and hunger was starting to creep in more and more, Frank had said bring along a snack which proved to be a very important, Frank had something called a cliff bar (although it looked more like a turd that had been wrapped up). Jonny had a nice packed lunch and I had brought along a protein bar, now rather than just scoffing it down in one go Frank said we are best to just have a nibble as and when we need it, again this was good advice and staved off the hunger for longer periods of time.
The return path was going to be just as tough but slightly different from the way we had came, first up was the descent from the trigg point, Frank pointed the way down which looked like a sheer drop into darkness, I was thinking that Frank had gone slightly nuts as he ran down into the night and disappeared from sight! Not to be left behind Jonny and Myself quickly followed, it was a fairly steep descent and we had to be careful not to lose our footing, one thing was certain though the trip down was much quicker and lots more fun than the climb up and it didn’t take long at all until we were back on even ground.
The next part involved us going through a wooded section, this again provided a new set of obstacles as the ground was a lot softer than before, lots of mud and also there had been a number of trees which had recently been blown down so we had to climb through the branches to stay on track, remember this is all done in the dead of night by torch light… Eventually we came back towards the Roaches with just one final climb to go, again this was a steep one, using rocky steps to get the best grip under foot and make it as easy as possible we finally made it back to the cars at 10:46pm.
I was cold, soaking wet, covered in mud, my body was aching all over, I was starving hungry and needed my bed all at the same time but what an amazing experience, we had travelled 15.6km (9.7 miles) and climbed a total of 833m (2,733 feet).
I want to say thank you Frank Murphy for making this happen and Jonny Bibb for being such great company along the way, if anyone is capable of doing this it’s well worth it, I am still knackered but totally buzzing from what I have achieved again, StokeFIT is an amazing part of my life, love it!‪ #‎letsgetbettertogether‬