Feeling the love of running with Love Trails Festival

Friday, July 27, 2018

This summer, nearly 1000 runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities descended upon the Gower Peninsula in Wales for three days of running, sunshine, beers, and music at the aptly named Love Trails Festival (LTF).  I had wanted to go last year, but there were a few other things going on at the same time, such as Spitfire Scramble.  This year also had conflicting races but I made LFT a priority and I am so glad I did.  Here is why:

Yes, I realize this crazy British heatwave is an anomaly but the weather was gorgeous! Sunshine very day, a light breeze, and cool evenings make me a very happy girl.  I was so happy topping up my vitamin D under factor 50 sunscreen.

Sunshine and sheep

When I was little, my family would go camping at least once a year in the state park.  My husband and I never go around to it while dating in Michigan, nor since we moved to London.  This camp sight had port a Loos and limited showers (I took 1 shower in 3 days but hey, everyone was sweating).  It was relaxing to be outside.  My new sleeping mat from Decathlon (Forclaz 400) is amazing.  It self inflates pretty quickly (once you open the valve) and just needs a few puffs to get it to the correct firmness.  I slept in leggings and my Polartec Alpha hoody and was snug as a bug in a rug in my Decathlon sleeping bag.

The tent is Quecha Arpenaz 3 Fresh & Black from Decathlon.  I had to pitch in the dark b I had already practiced once in my garden.  I didn't realize it but the Fresh & Black feature keeps the majority of the light out, manning I didn't wake up when the sun started to shine.  Instead, I work up when Project Awesome started whopping their way through camp.

I kept camp food simple and light.  Each morning, I had bagel with peanut butter and Fuel protein porridge pot for lunch.  Dinner and drinks were from one of the six or so the festival vendors.

Running along the beach #winning

Just look at these views. I ran through the woods, along the coast, on a beach, over salt marshes, and literally through a creek.  You don't get that in London (which is also why it seemed much harder than it should).

Welsh coast #lush

I was lucky enough to lead a few 3-5k organized runs which was amazing way to meet lots of people.  I was with my blogger friends Becs (The Style Dynamo) and Bethan (A Pretty Place to Play) plus their partners, whom I have known for years but don't see as often as I would like.  We met through running years ago, stay connected through blogging yet are always busy because we live in London.  We could actually just hang out and catch up in a leisurely way.  If we had met in London, I have a feeling it Would have been incredibly rushed.

Me and Becs

Things I would do differently for next year:

  • Hire a car or bring less stuff.  Carrying a 90L bag, 38L bag, tent and camping chair all over London and on public transport was terrible. Glamping is very attractive to me at this point.  With a big enough group, the cost can be effective.  I would also leave my camping chair at home as I barely used it.  Perhaps if the ground had been wet, I would have used it more.
Yes, I know this photo is blurry but you get the idea about how much stuff I carry
  • Attend more talks.  There was so much going on, I couldn't be at three places at once.  Hopefully next year, the program will have a bit more detail about what the talks are on so I can be inspired to move more.
Chilling at Camp Fire Stage
  • Try more shoes.  Salomon had tons of tester shoes you could take out for a spin.  I also did so on the last day and in hind site, should have tried as many as possible.  I am always nervous about investing in new running shoes because of the expense, especially if it turns out I don't like them.  I am a big fan of Salomon trail shoes and should really give the road shoes a try.
I did try the Suunto watches a few times
  • Take loo roll.  Unfortunately there was a shortage of this on Saturday night.  It was a rookie camping/festival mistake not to keep some tissues on me at all times.  Lesson learned.
  • Pack coffee for camp. Not for me but since I have a small stove to boil water, it would be nice for others.  Coffee was a good 15 minute walk away at the main festival area and always had a queue first thing in the morning.
So are you in?  Early bird tickets are now on sale for £109/pp.  The LTF will be 4-9 July 2019.  See you there?  Or if you are up for an adventure, there are also sister events in Chamonix and Falkland Islands planned.

Amazing drumming for the Beer Relay

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