And what better way to start back training than a safari park run around the ‘wilds’ of Woburn. The early morning start was delayed slightly by the Grand Prix but a warm sun and post-harvest fields were a welcome greeting. The recent lack of rain has allowed even the most shady and usually submerged trails to have dried out – something that certainly hasn’t happened this summer.
Not realising this, I set out in my Inov8 X-Talons which proved to be an inappropriate choice in these drought conditions. One of the great advantages of the X-Talon, however, is its versatility and, for a fell-running shoe, it holds the unique characteristics of being equally at home on the road and the track.
This 10K route combines greenway, trail, bridlepath, ploughed field and deer park and never fails to re-ignite my passion for running. The fields at Birchmoor Farm are a constant reminder of the passing seasons and Woburn Safari Park offers a view of the wild animals not otherwise seen since my days in Africa. Whilst this lends itself to a pleasurable run, I never get home in less than 52 minutes. There is either an African elephant to observe or, at the other end of the scale, a rare black squirrel which was first sighted in Britain here in Bedfordshire and is still fairly unique to the area.
The final few kilometres are through the deer park and, at this time of year, the stags have lost their inhibitions and rather than creating a stampede and running alongside the herd, they stand their ground, confident of seeing off this running intrusion. The magnificence of these creatures prompted me to continue the run swiftly, collect the camera and return by mountain bike to capture the images. That urgent finish resulted in my stopping the watch at 50 minutes!