Wednesday 22nd May saw the Harriers in action at Harrock Hill. The first of a series of 4 races on the hills to the east of Parbold.
The terrain is mixed; fields, footpaths, tracks even some tarmac but the two things Harrock always has in abundance are hills and stiles. It also usually has mud and cows, so there is plenty of variation and no time for boredom.
Seven Harriers were in action, all with previous on this course, looking to seeing how their form was progressing or otherwise in a big field of 196 runners.
The start is always chaotic as it funnels down into a narrow path, there is always someone who thinks it is a great idea to get themselves at the front without realising they are about to become the cork in the bottle.
Mike Harris took the immediate lead for Harriers still looking to finally overhaul the “Captain” aka “Take it steady at the start” Dave Collins. At the summit of the first hill, Dave settled into lead position followed by Mike, Dave Waddington, Kev Edwards, Jayne Taylor, Tony Boyle and Shona Taylor. It’s rumoured Tony was hanging back to make sure no one saw him, in case he was asked for his subs!
The beautiful evening sunshine was causing a few issues, affecting vision and making low branches and gnarled tree roots hard to spot, thankfully everyone stayed in one piece unlike in previous years. An intact body would be needed to take on the bovine intervention later in the race!
At the bottom of the valley, Waddi made his move on one of his favourite courses easing past Mike on the partial climb of Parbold Hill, hill training in the Lakes paying dividends. By this stage the runners were stretched out over possibly the hardest section of the course, a steady climb over farmer’s fields, past very interested cows (I think they were more suited to the sprint discipline than endurance), thankfully a stile provided an escape from their attentions. They certainly provided a focus to getting a move on.
Three miles in and most of the climbing is done so easy you start to think, just two miles to go. However a very blustery wind made the tarmac section of the race far harder than normal.
The last mile is generally downhill, a chance to empty the pain locker (royalties to be paid to the author of this quote) and try to shave a few seconds off your time. Coach Waddi employed his fell running tactics of hurdling the last gate (hardcore you know the score), yes I did mean vault it, there’s some spring in them legs!
First home for Harriers was Dave Collins 36.44 22nd place 1st M50, followed by Dave Waddington 37.14 29th place, Mike Harris 37.35 34th place, Kev Edwards 38.36 44th place, Jayne Taylor 40.50 68th place 2nd Lady 1st L50, Tony Boyle 48.41 134th place and Shona Taylor 49.25 143rd place.
On the warm down a full team performance analysis was carried out, i.e how pleased we all were with our efforts. It was noted that Kev had entered the Lakeland 50 to help his Harrock campaign this year, confessing to a dislike of downhills!
Back at stat HQ, a trawl of the web revealed that six of the Harriers beat their best 2012 times by very healthy margins.
DC -20 secs
DW -52 secs
MH -3 mins 19 secs
KE -1 min 18 secs
JT -59 secs
ST -4 mins 7 sec
Fantastic performances all round especially Shona, knocking over 4 minutes off last year's time! The coach reckoned Mike wasn't trying last year and has taken on DC's mantle of chief motivator!
The presentations saw Dave C and Jayne take away two baskets of veg for their efforts, plenty of greens getting eaten in their house this week.
There are three more editions of this race so plenty of chance for everyone to get some Harrock action this year. Thanks to the supporters who cheered us on to record times!