The Lymm 5K is the final race in the North Cheshire 5K Grand Prix series. While the previous three venues (Dunham Massey twice, Hollins Green and Bowdon) are potential pb courses, Lymm is generally accepted to be a tough run. Despite this, and with previous experience of the race, Jayne Taylor and Dave Collins made the short trip to leafy Lymm to put Jayne’s recent upturn in form and Dave’s continual decline to another test.
The “Slow Down High Winds” signs on the Thelwall viaduct did not bode well, but in truth the wind wasn’t really a factor in the race. The course itself is the major problem! To paraphrase the well worn football cliché, Lymm is a race of two halves. The first half is downhill with a bit of flat, the second half is uphill. This means that if you are going to run a decent time you need to go off at a faster than comfortable pace. With a record 315 runners, and a start littered with parked cars, congestion was the name of the game for the first half mile. Mike Harris would not have been a happy man as the hoards set off at their aspirational pace.
The race quickly turns onto a fairly major road. I’ve not noticed it in past races, but this year cones had been placed in the road to give a three abreast space for the runners. This seemed to encourage people onto the tarmac and so I took the pavement option which allowed me to scoot past a lot of the quick “out of the blockers”. This seemed an even better decision as the cones claimed at least one victim who went sprawling over one of the orange and white blighters.
I find its best not to look at my watch on this race; or any race for that matter! It can be demoralising to see that you haven’t run as fast on the downhill bit as you hoped, and things are about to get a whole lot worse. The slopey bit is a bit sneaky. You turn a corner into a fairly dark tunnel with a poor surface and have to concentrate on placing your feet. By the time you come back into the light and look up, there’s an incline in front of you. And that’s it until about a few hundred metres from the finish. Head down (I know it should be up) and breathe deeply. The last turn is a welcome sight and once round it you can “sprint” to the finish.
The quality of athlete in this series is outstanding. Bearing in mind that this is not a fast course, the winning man (Matthew Shaw – a 14.45 5K man in his day) clocked an impressive 15.45. Even more frightening is the bloke in second place in a time of 15.47; Andrew Green from Warrington AC who has a 2.12 marathon under his belt, albeit 20 years ago. Unfortunately for me, he’s a vet 50, so it’s a good job I don’t go pot hunting in Cheshire. Overall, 33 runners finished in under 18 minutes. The winning lady was Sarah Livett from Menai Track & Field, in a still impressive 18.24.
For our part, I was happy with 18.55 (61st overall and 6th vet 50), while Jayne was a bit disappointed (shows how good she is running!) with 19.43 (91st overall, 5th lady and 1st vet 50).
Instead of our usual cooldown – we got lost last year and ended up with mega miles – we cajoled and carried Jayne’s GREAT niece Macie around the 2K fun (?) run. At least that’s Lymm done for another year, and we set off for home with the comforting thought of Harrock Hill the following Wednesday.