‘We never promised you a rose garden’ – spring sunshine reveals beauty and beastly mud at Rose of the Shires


Sometimes the weather on race day can betray what a course holds in store for you.

This year’s Rose of the Shires was just such an event.

The day dawned bright and sunny, with the run’s Brixworth Country Park start looking resplendent.

But when you’re racing across 54-miles of road, canal path and field through Northamptonshire’s picturesque, but rain saturated, countryside, things are never going to be as easy as such a welcoming start suggests.

It’s fair to say that if 2024 has brought us one thing so far, it’s rain. And wind. And generally the kind of weather you might normally expect to be associated with the Hebrides in the bleak midwinter.

So, it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise to any of the more than 60 runners taking on the Rose of the Shires that those aforementioned roads, canal paths and fields were all pretty wet and muddy.

But then this is an ultra distance trail run – what did we all expect?

Northamptonshire has plenty of beautiful countryside on offer, and race organiser’s Go Beyond Challenge had been keen to emphasise the county’s history and heritage in the run up to the event.

Did you know Northants’ red rose crest commemorates its major role in the War of the Roses? No, me neither.

Will that help you as your calves start to ache and the miles tick onwards increasingly slowly? No. Probably not – but Go Beyond promised a rose garden not a bed of roses!

Overall, this was a really fun event, well marshalled with some excellent aid stations and – thankfully – an easily navigable route with the help of a handy GPS tracker.

There was loads of camaraderie out on the course, and our old friend the weather stayed true throughout.

And while the surprise sunshine may have disguised what runners could expect to find under foot on the Rose of the Shires course, it also served to show up just how beautiful it is.

The Rose of the Shires is just one of our stunning ultra marathon challenges.

From the season curtain raising Country to Capital in January, to the Thames Trail and our five-day, 123-mile romp through Nepal, we’ve got something for every thrill-seeking long-distance lover.

Do one – or perhaps take on our Grand Slam! Find out more here: https://www.gobeyondchallenge.com/ultra-marathons/