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Wendover Woods parkrun

Today marks the day I complete the UK alphabet challenge! Woohoo!

As I had deliberately chosen the events I run based on rareness recently, I have been left in need of a "W". Fortunately, there are many of those around!

The particular "W" I chose this week is Wendover Woods - based purely on the elevation profile. It's definitely amongst the more bumpy of courses!

The area

Wendover Woods is a woodland located at the northern tip of the Chiltern Hills. Historically, woodland has formed the majority of the landscape in the Chilterns at least since the 9th century. The wood has always been used as a consumable resource by local populations, from the construction of houses, horse-drawn carts and fences in the 14th century, for firewood to be burnt in London in the 19th century, through to being used for rifle butts and tent pegs in during the wars of the early 20th century.

The woodland itself is a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees, providing greenery all year. Haddington Hill, located near the car park, is the highest point in the Chilterns, indicated by a stone trig point. Openings in the woodland provide some picturesque views of the nearby Aylesbury Vale.

The woods has several marked trails which can be explored after the run too, which are typically run in the opposite direction to the parkrun course.

A sign at Wendover Woods outlining the possible trails to explore

The course

The course follows a number of trails through the woods, with signposted or well-marshalled turns along the way. The route begins with a long and steep descent before heading back up a short, sharp hill. At the summit of the short hill, runners have a short amount of time to regain their breath before heading back down an equally short and steep hill, before the long incline to the finish funnel begins.

A large purpose-built visitor centre is located near to the paid on-site car park, which provides toilets and a cafe, with both inside and outside seating.

The run

The start line for Wendover Woods is directly below a zip-line, which is part of the on-site Go Ape area. As if deliberately timed, someone happened to be using the zip-line at 9am, and so we used them zip-lining across the start line as our start signal for the run!

I knew that the course was initially downhill, followed by up and down a shorter hill, followed by a long climb, and so my plan was to run hard down the hill, recover slightly, and take the remainder of the course quite steady. That plan failed however, at the end of the first descent, when I realised I had no time to recover before the first ascent.

I resorted to walking parts of some of the hills, as did many others, as I had no other option given I went too hard too soon. Fortunately the views were enough to keep my mind off the run itself. While the final hill is long and steep, it is still runnable, but as per the advice from the first timer briefing, try to save something for the final hundred metres, which come after the corner at the top of the hill!

Thanks to the super friendly marshals this week, especially for the encouragement up the hill to the finish!

Links: Results | Strava

References: Forestry England | Wendover Woods cafe

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