Updated: Oct 15
A few days after the Camino 25Km & 50KM 2023 we asked the people that make up the event - how it all went.
As always we do this with a lean in towards sharing positive things - to help people who are considering running their first trail event, maybe their first ever 50KM ultramarathon as well as feedback from RD Carole who shares the good and the bad about race-marking.
We were grateful to pioneer a new Gratitude Mile inside the event hosted by Mark and the team at Run Grateful. Mark shares more about this below and how any event can incorporate more gratitude inside of what they do. Also grateful to Sarah and Eros (Guide and Blind Runner) who share what it was like taking on the Camino EcoTrail 25KM and a bit about the film 'Tethered' which is being made about them/guiderunning. These are just some of the things we care deeply about. We were proud of some the post race comments from Run Community Leaders who we care about - on the diversity and the positive female ratios. As a She.Races advocate we are excited to share that women made up over 57% of the EcoTrail participants.
We trialled some new things - we always will. Some worked (Ali's Pantry Energy Balls are staying) and some need more refinement. That only happens when good people share helpful feedback - some of which we have included in here.
So strap in - make yourself an Exhale Coffee and enjoy xx
CAMINO: So grateful to have Darren Evans and his The Green Runners colleagues with us in the EcoTrail - we couldn't believe it when Darren shared this epic poem which so brilliantly captures - how to get to our event by public transport - using the public toilets - interacting with the other Epping Forest users - Buddying up with other runners - Sharing the Love and the Love of a Good Whoop!!!!!
Camino x Run Grateful - Gratitude Mile
For 2023 Camino and Run Grateful set up a one mile section from the Doughnut to Snaresbrook.
"It starts for us, cutting the cupboard the night before, adding the gratitude sentences with the marker pen, the basic nature of its creation is similar to that of a grateful mile, strippped back, no glitz or glamour… knowing these signs will sit within an event that means so much to many, we all have a story that gets us to the start line. We know this mile we have the potential to uplift, encourage & energise. As they run or walk through seeing the gratitude sprinkled down the path. We go & put up the signs, then we pitch up waiting for the runners to appear from the forest, into the large open space where we stand to cheer & give a smile, suggesting we have something special for them now… A GRATEFUL MILE.
Above: Getting these Gratitude messages more permanent might help Waterworks Roundabout underpass!!!
What an experience, supporting our good friends at Camino Ultra with a themed “grateful mile” during there latest event. It won’t be last time! I believe this would bring value to every event, and the feeling I felt from others on that Saturday inspires me to not stop until these “grateful miles” are introduced to every event in the world & it all started with us & Camino Ultra
BlackGirlsDoRunUK - taking Darren's advice and putting on the brakes and enjoying the moment at the end of the Gratitude Mile x
I mean, why wouldn’t you have a themed grateful mile?"
A huge thank you to Mark for all the personalised signs and the words of encouragement out there. A true opportunity to remind us all that times and leaderboards are something at some time but we can get other things out of movement and running events if we wish to look a little deeper.
The Gratitude Mile on the EcoTrail course exists as a Strava segment (irony not lost)
Helen ran the Camino EcoTrail 25Km and kindly shared the following:
"Where to start? My first Camino race event last Saturday 7th October in glorious Epping Forest, was, quite simply, bloody marvellous. This was the inaugural addition of the Camino 25K Eco trail route (Epping to Wanstead flats) to the well-established autumnal Camino Ultra Epping Forest 50K (Wanstead flats to Epping and back).
Whether you are new to Camino Ultra or a seasoned Camino, this is a delightfully dreamy (and sunny) Epping forest trail, with (it'll come as no surprise to many), genuinely happy inclusive vibes.
I’ve been running with Camino Ultra on quite a few of their “Greenways” and “Blueways” series of monthly social runs, film nights etc., over the last two years, and have a lot to thank David, Paula and the rest of the Camino beauts for injecting so much joy to life during that time. Known for their well-planned routes, inclusive run-leading, sustainable ethos, and a sprinkling of Camino magic; this race was no different.
I ran with friends, including Coach Annie Bee, and met new friends met on the trail, but, truly, whether you knew everyone or no-one, there was cheerful bonhomie, and a warm Camino party atmosphere (with all the standard professional bits and bobs that you'd expect for this kind of race). Hugs, high fives and encouraging words were exchanged with the 50K race runners coming the other way, who started 1 hour before us. Regardless of pace, there's no elitism here. We ran, we chatted, we laughed, we cried, we laughed until we cried, we helped a fellow runner, we got lost, there MAY have been some aeroplane arms involved on the downhills, and a teeny bit of walking on some of the uphills. ALL THE FEELS. Warm fuzzy ones mostly.
Add to this a well-organised start and PINK finish, with aptly stocked aid stations (thanks to GoodGym also!), with great food (those sublime protein balls...!), drink, coffee, a "grateful mile" to inject some much-needed cockle-warming positivity from Run Grateful, medals, photography and professional first aid/wilderness medicine support, and this was a spesh day indeed. See you all again next year, no doubt (or in the Spring for the Lea valley 50K, or 25K route!). "
We have known Sarah & Eros for a little while but this was the first time that they had been able to come and take part in a Camino event. We are keen to keep up a tradition of making Camino events accessible and to become a 'bucket list' event for blind/guided runners (especially ones who want to do more in the trail and ultramarathon space). Sarah & Eros are highly talented runners and beautiful people - so we were rather chuffed that Eros has shared some thoughts on their Camino EcoTrail experience:
"For a blind runner and his guide this event is a perfect introduction to trail running.
The paths were nice and wide, with hardly any tree roots and because the weather had been lovely, the ground was nice and firm allowing us to comfortably run side by side, not having to worry about any obstacles or having to run behind one another. Near the start of the 25km route, there are some gentle hills which made us work a little harder during the up hills but get a nice reward during the down hills.
We know a few of the Camino team so it was nice to experience one of their events. Everyone was so friendly and willing to help in any way possible. Our plan was to have all the water and nutrition we needed in our running bags so were not planning to stop at the aid stations. As we ran past, we were offered various snacks. As we were moving away, we heard, “Can I interest you in an energy ball… It’s vegan.” Well we couldn’t resist and I am so glad we didn’t. It was delicious! Thanks Ali!
We want the recipe.
It was a beautiful thing to see so many dimensions of diversity being represented at this event. This was reflected at the party-like atmosphere at the end. There were so many people hanging out, hours after they had finished, keen to cheer on anyone and everyone as they came through the pink arch. Well what can I say about that pink arch? I knew from my watch that we had about 3km to go but Sarah spotted in the distance. It was just there as the crow flies but as we were running towards it, the route took us away from it. What a tease. Then with 500m to go, we spotted again but we had to go round the long way!
Camino: Many of you already know Alice and some of you may know her partner Deo who is running from Cape Town to London. Over the past few years Deo has been highlighting many forms of injustice under the spotlight of 381 projects (see below). When we had our race numbers printed one just seemed to pop right out as being appropriate. We are grateful to Alice for sharing Deo's story and would be keen for all Caminos to help promote the Go Fund page
"Last Saturday I proudly wore bib no 381 to represent Deo Kato on my first ECO Trail 25km race with Camino Ultra. It had a blast and it was a truly a beautiful discovery of Epping Forest
Deo is currently running from Cape Town to London to tell the story of Human Migration from Africa to the rest of the World. He is nearly 4000km into his journey and his 4th country ! I ran last Sunday to help raise awareness and funds for this incredible cause and support the “Legacy of Hope” Deo has started with the work he is doing in schools throughout his journey. Both in Africa and the UK. Deo plans to take 381 days arriving in London next August
This journey matters. To donate and support the project and help get Deo to finish Leg 1 in Kampala early December please donate using the link below :
Camino Thank Yous:
As styled by Alejandra above we are grateful to the wonderful Ali & Lay Peng (Hackney Local chefs) for making the incredible Energy Balls that so many runners and volunteers loved.
The ever handsome Kaspar (Exhale Coffee) for serving up free coffees to all the EcoTrail starters and everyone at the finish in Wanstead - WE LOVE YOU EXHALE - highly recommend that you trial their coffee x
To Lindley & John from Challenge Running First Aid - We had a higher than normal incident count - the ground was rock hard in places and we had a few tumbles especially in the 50KM event - thank you to all the runners who sent us PMs to thank Challenge First Aid for the calm manner and expertise.
Finally a huge thank you to all the kids and parents/grandparents and friends who came out to support the runners and who stayed all afternoon (in the sunshine) and made such a raucous atmosphere for our first and (nine hours after they started) final finisher x
NEXT YEAR CAMINO EVENTS:
Camino Next event is the London Gratitude 25KM (Broxbourne to Olympic Park) and London Lea Valley 50KM (back for it's fourth year) which are hosted on Saturday 23rd March - SIGN UP NOW
Camino Epping races will be hosted on 5th October 2023 - sign ups will be open soon.
Keep an eye out for the new EcoTrail Challenge which launches 2024