The local mid week racing season started at Astley Park, Chorley with a new junior trail race preluding the now well established senior race. Both races are described as “Undulating Trail” which gives you a bit of a clue that they aren’t easy courses. However, conditions were superb for running, with the recent winds having died down and enough of a chill in the air to prevent severe over-heating.
The juniors went off first and performed magnificently. The course is advertised as being “1.6km / 1 mile (ish)”, in which case the times were really impressive. Out of a total field of 77, the Harriers had five runners:
Adam Lynch (5:26) 2nd overall
Matthew Lynch (5:57) 6th overall and 1st U13
Danielle Thompson (6:07) 12th overall and 1st girl
Scott Thompson (6:18) 17th overall and 4th U13
Rachel Sidebotham (6:19) 18th overall and 2nd U15 girl
The senior race starts at 7.30 and we’d arrived in plenty of time for a decent warm-up. However, this being the first mid week race of the season, familiar faces who we hadn’t seen over the winter popped up everywhere and a quick chat with them all didn’t leave much time. Bobby Kasabov and Mike Harris had confirmed that they would be running but this still left the men one short of a team of four.
A quick jog round the course loop didn’t do much to alleviate memories of what a tough little course this is. And so to the start line, which seemed much better populated than when we ran this race last year; confirmed by the results which showed 133 runners. It was great to see Colin McEvoy and Andy Kaufman turn up out of the blue, and so at least we would get a complete men’s team.
I felt a bit sheepish explaining to Mike Harris that the course was a bit “hilly”. He reminded me that he had just done the Lakeland Trails Hawkshead Coffin run the previous Saturday, so I just offered my usual piece of advice – “Go off steady”. This is actually intended to prevent people getting too much of a lead on me, but I think I’ve been rumbled.
Andy Kaufman was off like a rocket and needless to say I didn’t see him again! Bobby was in a small group just ahead of me and Mike Harris. I’ll spare you the fine details of our personal battles over the next half hour or so, but despite the toughness of this course, it’s one of my favourites. There are inclines but not severe (cross-country like) hills. The surface is gravelly type paths and compacted earth, with only a very short section on pavement. There are two loops with a testing and unwanted uphill finish!
Andy scooted round the 4.4 miles in 25:39 to finish 9th. Bobby had a superb run finishing 25th in a time of 28:29. On the last hill, he surged ahead of the group he’d been running with throughout the race to take over a minute off his previous best time on this course of 29:38. I can hear Mr. Millington groan from here.
Next in was Dave Collins at 29th in 28:41; a second down on last year, so happy with that. Mike Harris (down in the results as Mie) pulled off his usual strong finish to gain several places late on, finishing 32nd in 29:00. Colin McEvoy, sporting a proper pair of trainers, finished with a highly creditable 30:19 in 48th place.
Squeezed in between Mie and Colin was Jayne Taylor who was 43rd overall, 3rd Lady and 1st trout (V50) in 29:59. In an exclusive interview in the car on the way home, she revealed that she had been expecting about 31 minutes and put her good performance down to her new dairy and wheat free diet – don’t ask!
Well done to everyone who ran and to those who turned up to shout us on. Kev Edwards – I cannot seriously believe you considered racing three days after a marathon!
If you haven’t had a go at this race then there are still three opportunities left this year. Get your vests on and let’s have a presence at these local races.