[Thanks to Guy Riddell for this report. The event took place on the 26th February, 2017]
This was a cracking race, and it was great to catch up with Graham Tracey again: and finish in front of him for the first time.
We had a fair amount of rain in the week leading up to the race, and although I had been assured road shoes should be fine, I gambled on lacing up my trusty Brooks Cascadias on race day. They have seen me round a one hundred mile race on a variety of road/trail/muddy field; so really not much of a gamble.
The race basically follows the Middlewood Way (an old railway line) from Marple for six miles, through lovely countryside. For me it was a very steady 7 min 30 sec per mile pace, and although the ground was muddy and there was a bit of a cold headwind, it was largely uneventful. I could see the gold and green shirt of Graham Tracey not far behind, so just pushed on past the water station as the route took us up some steps to the canal towpath.
Almost immediately the going got a lot tougher. The canal path was extremely uneven, with large puddles and no way of avoiding any of the mud. Staying upright was a challenge, so the idea of picking up the pace slightly went right out of the window, and it became a battle to stay on my feet and just keep on pressing forward.
I managed to consume an energy gel without up-chucking (cola flavoured so the packet hilariously claimed) and reeled in a couple of other runners I know.
With about three miles to go, we were directed off the muddy tow-path (yay!) and up a little hill which might as well have been a mountain. A short, but fun section through the woodland and we were back onto the Middlewood Way for the ‘sprint’ for home. I somehow managed a seven minute mile to come home in 1:39:25, taking a full six minutes off my previous best effort.
Lovely race, and I reckon a faster time could be had with less apocalyptic weather in the build up. Graham Tracey came in a few minutes after me: a valiant effort. Dan Ellingworth finished in just over two hours, to make three VC&AC finishers in the race, quite a rarity.
Next big race for me is the Rock n Roll Marathon in Liverpool on May 28th, then the small matter of The Tour of Tameside, a series of races which looks something like this:
14th June Round the Ressers – 5 mile trail race
15th June Daisy Nook Trail (Oldham) – 10k trail race
16th June Copley Fell Race (Wild Bank) – 6 mile trail/fell race
17th June High Peak Half Marathon (Longdendale Trail) – 13.1 mile trail race
18th June Hyde Road Race (Hyde-Gee Cross-Hyde) – 7 mile road race
I did this a couple of years ago when it was revived after a long, long break; and the challenge of running hard, day after day, is really tough. I got to run briefly with the lovely local legend Ron Hill, who created this event and will likely be there again. He was gamely wearing his yellow tour leader from the 1980s!