Six Harriers were at Birchwood 10k held on the first and only day of summer this year. A humid 25 degrees comes as a shock after the cooler temperatures of this summer. Howard, Chris Kinsella, Colin, Mike, Paul Mason (entered as Atherton) and Emma were the ones ready for a sauna.
The race starts at Birchwood shopping centre and is popular enough to warrant chip timing. A coffee shop in the centre was wise enough to open early and was doing a roaring trade serving runners and spectators. Remarkably all the Harriers found each other before the race amongst the crowds although there was a dodgy moment when Howard decide to investigate why Mike had ducked away (he was behind a bush watering the plants, company wasn’t necessary!).
The course is a mix of quiet roads, cycle ways and park paths although quite where you go is still a mystery as it’s all a little anonymous! The Harriers were all spread out and kept a distance for most of the race although Paul was stalking Mike near the end. With family watching Mike kicked hard in the finishing straight to finish just one second ahead not knowing Paul was just behind. Taking all the accolades however was Howard who despite tough conditions and what seemed a slightly long course managed to knock out a PB of 36:05. Well done Mr Avery!
11th Howard Avery 36:05
65th Mike Harris 40:33
70th Paul Mason 40:34
112th Colin McEvoy 42:25
192nd Chris Kinsella 45:30
801st Emma Souness 1:06:06
At the finish we staggered away to the drinks station dripping with sweat. No medals for this race but the perfect item to deal with the aftermath, a fluffy red towel to mop our brows!
It wouldn’t be long before Paul Mason would be racing Mike Harris again……
Lake Vrnywy Half Marathon Wales
Lake Vrnywy seems to be a race that crops up regularly as the scene for people’s Half Marathon PB’s writes Mike Harris. It was this in mind that made me enter it when I was looking for an Autumn half. It was a few months later that I had a shock when the Sat Nav showed it to be a nearly two hour journey. Undaunted and determined not to let it bite into the weekend too much I drove down the morning of the race. Just as I drove into Wales I checked my watch to realise my Garmin was still at home charging. Too late to turn around! I knew Paul Mason was also running at a similar pace so I just needed to find him, impossible it turned out!
Whilst warming up I met another Wigan runner Vicky Bryant from Phoenix who also had Garmin issues so both of us mithered about running watch less!
Within moments of the start I caught up with Paul and jumped on the 6:30 pace train. After a climb up from the village to the dam there is 11 miles of total flatness. Forest on one side and water the other. It was a sunny day but not too warm, thankfully the trees offered some shade as I forgot sun block.
For 3 miles the three Wigan runners ran together until Vicky moved ahead. I kept with Paul, occasionally asking our pace which was usually followed by Paul saying it was too quick for him to sustain which then prompted him to accelerate. During this section I didn’t really know how the race would pan out. I had raced plenty over the summer but all shorter races so it was all a little unknown whether I could sustain things. At 6 miles Paul decided to back off, although he did appear on my shoulder one more time half mile later. I decided to race the last half of the race and use the runners ahead as targets to compensate for having no idea of my pace.
I could see Vicky in the distance and as we approached the 9 mile marker I moved past. My running was still fairly relaxed at this point although I don’t think I was quite matching the pace of the first 6 miles. I slowly picked off a few more runners and ended up with a small group of 4 following me. I used the downhill section back to the village to try and shake them off which was partially successful. I did however not realise how much further there was and suffered lactic hell for the last third of a mile. Only after I had staggered over the line was I able to check my time with a fellow runner to ascertain that the Inkskip PB was beaten. A new PB of 1:25:44 was the reward. I didn’t have to wait long for Vicky and Paul to appear, Paul with a PB of 1:27:20. After a quick chat I hit the long road home. Well done to Paul for his new PB!
A great course in beautiful surroundings but check where it is before you enter!