Happy Trails

Tunes, trails and to­geth­er­ness: how Love Trails Fes­ti­val blends mu­sic and run­ning

Runner's World (UK) - - Contents -

A feel-good fes­ti­val for run­ners

EN­DURANCE EVENTS at mu­sic fes­ti­vals tend to re­volve around the num­ber of hours you can go without sleep­ing, or how many pints of warm, flat cider you can drink without fall­ing over.

Not so with Love Trails Fes­ti­val. At the an­nual gather­ing, now in its third year, mu­sic and run­ning are given equal foot­ing. So, in­stead of wak­ing up at mid­day with a head-split­ting hang­over, fes­ti­val­go­ers are out ex­plor­ing the lo­cal trails or lis­ten­ing to in­spi­ra­tional talks by well-known run­ners and ad­ven­tur­ers. Come the evening, the mu­sic be­gins – and the party starts.

This year, the event came to the Gower Penin­sula, Swansea, the UK’S first Area of Out­stand­ing Na­tional Beauty. And there were no Glas­ton­bury-style down­pours, with pun­ters in­stead en­joy­ing a week­end of dawn-to-dusk sun­shine.

‘It’s just a recipe for a great time,’ says Sarah Pritchard, the event pro­ducer. ‘You have all the en­dor­phins from run­ning and then you have the more tra­di­tional fes­ti­val in the evening. It’s in­cred­i­bly friendly, too – I know lots of peo­ple who turned up on their own and left with so many friends.’

There was cer­tainly some­thing for ev­ery­one on this year’s line-up: a ‘run to wild swim’, a chaotic beer mile, yoga classes, a night­time trail run, a 50km ul­tra and a fun­filled mu­sic set from elec­tro duo The Cor­re­spon­dents.

As with tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals, many peo­ple come to Love Trails for a sense of es­cape. ‘The prospect of es­cap­ing the city and vis­it­ing a part of the world I’ve never been to was ir­re­sistible,’ says Jodie Gauld, who grew up in Corn­wall but lives in Lon­don. ‘I was pleas­antly sur­prised by how re­laxed and chilled the fes­ti­val was. If you wanted to go for a run, you could. If you wanted to

just hang out at the camp­site and re­lax, that was fine too.’

An­nie Ross, a fit­ness writer and founder of ex­erk.com, had a sim­i­larly pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. ‘It was my heaven: run­ning, friends and live mu­sic all in the same place,’ she says. ‘It had that typ­i­cal fes­ti­val vibe, with food and beer stalls, live mu­sic and com­edy, and the unique twist of hang­ing out in our run­ning gear and get­ting ex­cited about bor­row­ing free Salomon train­ers. It had that mag­i­cal-bub­ble feel that the best mu­sic fes­ti­vals have – smi­ley, happy peo­ple brought to­gether by com­mon pas­sions.’

Ian Healy, from the run­ning hub weare­day­break.org, has seen the fes­ti­val grow year on year – from 40 peo­ple in the first year to 900 this year. ‘It was big­ger and bolder this year: more entertainment, more mu­sic, more va­ri­ety of runs,’ he says. ‘The location was com­pletely dif­fer­ent too: last year, in Dorset, there were lots of forests, whereas this year was more beach-based. It’s a move­able con­cept, which is cool. ’

The mu­sic el­e­ment has also gone up a notch. The Cor­re­spon­dents and DJ Yoda (the lat­ter of whom per­formed a run­ning-themed set) are used to ap­pear­ing high up the bill in ma­jor mu­sic fes­ti­vals. Their re­spec­tive sets went down a storm. ‘The front­man from The Cor­re­spon­dents said we were the most en­er­getic crowd he’d ever played to,’ says Pritchard.

If pogo­ing around to dance mu­sic isn’t your thing, more se­date plea­sures could be found else­where. A se­ries of talks by high-pro­file ath­letes and ad­ven­tur­ers, in­clud­ing top trail run­ner Tom Owens, of­fered peo­ple the chance to learn from the ex­perts. And be­cause all this trail­run­ning malarkey is hun­gry work, the fes­ti­val en­sures it of­fers healthy, high-qual­ity food – in­clud­ing plenty of ve­gan op­tions.

If all this healthy eat­ing and self-im­prove­ment is start­ing to sound a bit too pious, rest easy: ‘There’s a fully stocked bar and plenty of rea­son to party,’ says Pritchard. ‘But there’s also no pres­sure to do that stuff.’ A grownup fes­ti­val with a bit of run­ning, a bit of mu­sic and – sure – some booze? See you there next year.

1. Ex­plor­ing the coast­line on a guided ad­ven­ture run 2. Signs of life 3. Beer-mile re­lay 4. Bad Boy Run­ning pod­cast work­shop 5. In­spir­ing line-ups 6. Yoga ses­sions were avail­able ev­ery day 7. Main- stage ses­sion 8. Free ba­nanas! 9. Crowds en­joy a se­ries of talks

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