I have new wheels and accordingly set off to run one of my old favourites, which starts at the east car park of Val de la Mare Reservoir. I say ‘favourites’ although my last few months in Jersey before leaving for Ireland were not good in the running sense. I was going through a prolonged spell of lethargy where my body was refusing to countenance running anywhere. Therefore the lasting memories of this course were not particularly comforting.
However, on with iPod (Mason and Elton John) and off along the long downhill trail towards the reservoir. (I now know this as following the route of the old German railway which ran down to St Ouen’s Bay, constructed in the early 40s though dismantled shortly after the Liberation.) This easy downhill start ends with the first tester as I swing off to the right up a steep track which levels out to run around the waters. It’s a nice off-road spell, followed by a leg-pounder as I climb out and away from the reservoir area into the lanes of St Ouen, now high above the bay. Only up by the Scout hut does the ground level out and already, a couple of miles in, it’s feeling quite tough. On down the hill, swing right along Route de L’Etacq before doubling back along the lane that skirts the beach. This is the last stretch of the Hash Half Marathon and somehow, although it’s dead flat, it always feels hard to me. Across into Chemin des Moulins and plodding back towards the west end of the reservoir.
But there’s only six miles on the clock and I really want to make it longer. Destiny calls as I approach the signpost that points towards the Donkey Track! Generations of local runners have blanched and broken into tears when this cross country race (Mielles de Morville) is announced. The lane leads to the property ‘Willorn’ but alongside it runs a narrow track, steep and sandy, climbing up the escarpment. It’s a grim battle and you do well to keep the legs moving until you reach the summit. There’s some instant relief as the trail double back and heads downhill but soon enough it turns again and twists upwards across a stream and through trees, emerging at last onto Chemin des Monts, by the dolmen. I’m half-lost for a while in the wilds of Grantez but avoid the feral tribes said to inhabit the area. The actual cross country course swoops down and up further on, but for today I head back down to sea level and find the bottom car park of the reservoir.
Back to the German railway. There still remains the bridge over which the track used to run, before descending down a sand embankment (now gone) to the bay. Following a line back from the bridge the ridge along which the track was laid is clearly outlined. The reservoir was constructed in 1962 and of course wiped out much of the course.
It’s always a nice finish along a wooded trail which runs parallel to the track down which I started. That’s 10.3miles incorporating some pretty hard work and I feel energised and zinging. And in need of a bit of recovery on Sun & Mon.
Miles on the week – 27.2
Miles ytd – 948.3