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