The inclement weather last Sunday (21 June) failed to put a dampener on the inaugural Trail Blaster 12. There was a real festival atmosphere with the 12 hour off-road relay race/ultra marathon, organised by Cannon Ball events, coinciding with the longest day of the year.
John Lloyd of Cannonball Events explained the inspiration behind the event: “I do any distance from 5k to ultra and run in lots of relays, so I figured why not combine all three.”
The race, set on trails of the scenic, wooded Towneley Park in Burnley challenged solo runners, pairs and teams to run as many 5k laps as possible in a 12 hour period. The trail featured a mixture of a grass and compact gravel tracks, making for a fast yet challenging and varied loop.The rules were simple: whichever soloist, pair and team runs the most laps in the 12 hour period is the winner. The challenge, however, was far from simple as the countless loops up the infamous Deer Park Road no doubt took their toll on the empty legs of the runners.
Nicola Jennings, running in her first major endurance event said: “Supporters were there to hand out whatever food you screamed for as you were running throughout the whole day. There was a speaker system to shout encouragement, by name, to as many runners as possible. In addition, electronic updates on times were available every hour. This was a very well organised, friendly, supportive race. Definitely a good endurance race for those who want a taster of ultra/endurance races.”
There were some incredible performances during the day. The first solo male was Craig Holgate, completing 26 laps in 11:13:44, with the winning female, Anne-Marie Lord, covering 21 laps in the 12 hour period. Also amongst the highlights of the day was Ian Stansfield who finished his first 50km at the age of 71. Part of the profits raised from the event went to Pendleside Hospice.