The Badger 10k trail race series takes place in the 650 acres of Cuerden Valley Park. It is a park I have either cycled or driven past for the last five years going to work and finally my curiosity to see the park combined with the chance to try a new race got the better of me last week.
It was the last in a series of three races, previous ones had been in the same week as Chorley but with Thursday being the 1st August I was able to plan in both races. After a few days of cooler weather Thursday saw the return of “Med” style temperatures so after a parking up and registering (all quick and efficient) I went for a very gentle warm up. Colleagues at work had said the park was reasonably hilly which surprised me as I think of the land around Bamber Bridge as fairly flat. My warm up run took me immediately to a steep downhill with a great view over the park, I wasn’t able to suss the exact route but guessed it we quite likely we would be going up and down those slopes!
My nervousness about not being ready for the start (still didn’t know for sure where it was) meant I had to hang around for a while so I was pleased to be finally off, a starting pistol being fired to send us on our way. The start of the race took you down a steep downhill, the first mile being on a tarmac which didn’t bode well for a trail race. I could see Paul Boardman from Horwich ahead me so I tried to work hard at closing up the gap as I had become a little isolated. I am never sure whether I like being alone in a race, you avoid having to listen to someone else’s snorts and heavy breathing but having others around you keeps you honest.
After about 1.5 miles I caught Paul and started work on the next target. Soon a few hills and slopes started to help me catch others with plenty of stiles which reminded me of Harrock. The race follows a rough figure of eight traversing the full north to south length of he park. Next it started to wind itself through undulating woodland. The shade was some relief as temperatures approaching 28 degrees meant the sweat was pouring out of me. 20 minutes into the race and it felt hard, no Garmin or mile markers meant I was judging how far to go by the watch. I kept working really hard to eat up the distance to the guys in front but it remained constant despite my best efforts.
After the initial tarmac there was a good variety of surfaces including cinder, gravel, earth and grass. I then spent large chunks of time alone, listening carefully to how soon after me the kissing gates slammed shut. By now the sweat was making my eyes sting, summer running hey! Soon be suffering numb winter figures so no grumbling from me!
My next opportunity to catch the runners ahead came with a series of hills with about 2 miles to go. The first was across a field, thankfully the cows were not of the “Harrock Hill” variety! I pulled 2 guys right back to me, we then ran as a trio hunting down another runner from Burnden RR’s. The final kilometre took you past the impressive old hall, now a Sue Ryder care home. Some course knowledge may have helped on the run in, as there were a few stiles, some tight corners and precious little opportunity to get by anyone on final few metres. I had to content myself with taking just one more place for 17th in 42.46, which I was pleased with from 156 finishers. The course was true to distance with 410 ft/125m of climb so a decent mid-week test.
Quick registration, good marshalling, interesting & challenging course, results online that night so definitely a race I would do again and recommend to others.