Mid Lancs XC – Sefton Park

Sefton Park is the Blue Riband Cross Country fixture in the Mid Lancs calendar. Leagues from across the North West come together to form a bigger field than normal, in addition to this it is usually the qualifier for the European Championships so we get to share the mud with Elites too!

This year’s race is on the 28th November and it’s vital we field a large team and pick up the maximum possible points. We need all abilities as we need to get two mens and two ladies teams across the line. Any club member interested in taking part needs to send their details through to Jacqui Jones by tomorrow lunchtime Friday 20th November. £1 entry to Jacqui on the day. Sefton is chip timed with a new race number.

jacqui.jones64@yahoo.com

Chip timed, Run Britain handicap valid event, European XC Champs qualifier, Racing Elites, £1 entry…….. what an absolute belter of a bargain!

 

 

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Cheshire 10k Nov ’15

Nine Wigan Harriers ventured south in search of mud, puddles, rutted paths, strong winds and heavy rain. They were certainly successful in finding all these things and it wasn’t even a Cross Country Race! Warming up running into a very strong headwind was an ominous sign for how tough the race would prove to be.

Arley Hall is the setting for the twice yearly Cheshire 10k road race. Billed as one of the UK’s quickest, nature certainly didn’t hold any of the elements back from the runners.

With it’s quick reputation in mind a number of the Harriers were looking to either sneak in a PB before the year was out or use the opportunity to sharpen up a little.

A field of over 1,000 took the start and after a few days of poor weather including heavy rain it was a relief it eased off a little. The majority of the Harriers grouped together near the front and after a few handshakes we were off.

The start and finish is on a non tarmac track which makes things interesting in wet conditions. We emerged from the Arley estate probably dirtier than most recent XC’s!

Stuart surged into an early lead looking to translate recent fine form into a new shiny sub 40 PB! With a pace close to 6 min/mile he was looking good for that.

Robin after an excellent 10k at Wigan was looking to utilise the gains from regular speed training at recent sessions, tracking Stuart at a respectful distance.

Watching on was Mike who knew there was likely to be a posse of Harriers just behind!

Completing the line up was Daniel, Paul B & Paul W for the men and Jayne, Kelly Anne & Rachel for the ladies. A very strong team!

After leaving the estate the route followed a loop around closed country roads although a combination of leaves, standing water and winds kept things from being too simple.

After the halfway point Robin picked up his speed and steadily reeled in Stuart who up to this point had been wondering whether he had been going too fast. This wasn’t the case but Robin had kept plenty back and was keen to finish strongly.

Pos

Chip 

Name

Race No

Time

Chip Time

Cat

Notes
69 72 ROBIN CHAN 246 00:38:28 00:38:28 Male PB
73 76 STUART TOWNS 1265 00:38:37 00:38:35 V40 PB
83 84 MIKE HARRIS 570 00:39:02 00:38:57 V40 PB
117 119 DANIEL PARKINSON 972 00:40:30 00:40:25 Male
118 123 PAUL BRYERS 191 00:40:33 00:40:30 V40
127 130 JAYNE TAYLOR 1223 00:40:58 00:40:53 V50
197 217 PAUL WALKER 1291 00:43:45 00:43:41 V35
202 218 KELLY ANNE TOWNS 1264 00:43:55 00:43:42 V35 PB
490 472 RACHEL NAYLOR 919 00:51:15 00:49:43 Female  PB

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Daniel attempts to dodge the camera!

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Paul dances a gig so pleased to be finished.

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Kelly Anne shows the men how to do a sprint finish.

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In spite of the conditions a strong number of the contingent achieved their goal of a new PB. Robin, Stuart & Mike all breaking the 39 minute barrier for the first time – well done fellas! Kelly Anne and Rachel were also keen to share in the PB glory, both racing away to new PB’s! Congratulations also to the rest of the team for some excellent performances.

The course is highly recommended and is a decent one for that PB attempt next year!

 

Striders 5 mile trail race

Striders 5 mile trail race by Kelly Anne Towns

On Sunday 1st November, 10 Harriers made the trip to the other side of Billinge Hill, where our hosts St Helens Striders were to stage their 30th anniversary event, a 5 mile trail race around the paths surrounding Carr Mill Dam.

The day’s misty start didn’t threaten to rise, and questions were raised as to whether a jaunt around the unfamiliar trails was the best idea! But as the field of around 150 gathered at the start for the race briefing, the great atmosphere ensured any concerns soon disappeared. The promise of slippy paths, slippier trails, lots of mud, oh and the bit that ‘had loads of bricks’ was cheerily delivered and off went the gun.

About half a mile of tarmac path soon became trail underfoot, followed by lots of twisting and turning around the perimeter of the Dam over several bridges then through fields and footpaths before eventually winding it’s way back towards Haydock on more solid ground. The first half was a gradual climb, including a couple of little uphill stings; making for a second half which contained some fast downhills to enjoy. At almost every opportunity, Striders had provided the most enthusiastic marshalls, nearly all of them with cameras (get gurning Harriers!) and incredible support throughout the whole race.

Stuart Towns was the early pace-setter, followed by Dave and Jayne hot on his heels. Not far behind was Paul Walker, with April, Kelly Anne and Tracy chasing. Stuart Hamilton, Ian Stewart and Mike Dutton followed in quick succession.

The strategically placed footbridges over the streams surrounding the Dam required some sharp-angled manoeuvres, but to Dave’s dismay, Stu negotiated each one perfectly. DC was resigned to continue the chase, visions of his team-mate taking an unplanned swim being scuppered every time. All the while, fending off his other half, always unsure as to her success over said bridges.

The other battle of the day was between Kelly Anne and Paul with half a mile to go. Shouts of encouragement to Paul (“Get going Wigan”) as KA took advantage of a strong finish obviously worked, as he stuck with her to finish just 2 seconds behind.

All in all a good day out for Wigan Harriers, with 4th places overall for Stuart Towns and Jayne Taylor, and four out of the five vet prizes on offer. Mr Towns collecting his second 1st V40 prize in one weekend following his first at Standish on Saturday afternoon!

Finish Position Time Race Number First Name Last Name Category Gender Position Prizes
4 33:39 178 Stuart Towns MV40 4 MV40 1st
14 34:46 35 David Collins MV50 13 MV50 1st
27 36:34 175 Jayne Taylor FV50 4 FV50 1st
35 38:10 146 April Morgan FV40 6 FV40 1st
38 38:49 177 Kelly Anne Towns F 8
39 38:51 187 Paul Walker M 31
55 40:02 68 Tracey Dutton FV40 10
63 41:37 101 Stuart Hamilton M 52
105 47:34 170 Ian Stewart MV40 81
112 48:44 69 Michael Dutton MV60 86

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All in all a great event, St Helens Striders nailed every aspect from the £8 price tag to providing a goody bag that actually contained goodies! Would be a welcome addition to the calendar if they decide to make this a regular event, fingers crossed!

I’m a Harrier get me out of here!

This might need to be anonymous but the bruises will probably give it away on Saturday…

I’m putting myself up for a Half Darwin award for last night’s little accident in the hope that this salutary tale prevents others from being such a numpty. (Half Darwin because I lived to tell the tale but if I’d been a bloke I wouldn’t be here now – further reproduction being unlikely.)

I was running along in the dark when I came to some road works across the path. It was on a blind bend and I didn’t fancy going out into the road round them. The barriers across the path were down, I could see the path ahead looked OK so I headed in. Not sure if I looked up at some fireworks or came to a bit where the trees were blocking the streetlights more than previously but suddenly I was down a hole. Or more precisely one leg was down a narrow slice – cut for a pipe presumably – dangling from an elbow on one side and unmentionables on the other. Fished myself out – “hmm, good mud / blood covering but hey that’s only pride and skin – my Garmin’s alright!”

The moral of this story is that road work barriers are probably there for a reason – respect them!

Get yourself along to Red Rose Cross Country Hyndburn this Saturday if you want to fathom out which Harrier fell down a hole this week!

Harriers Endurance Late Christmas Do!

Just a quick update on the late Xmas/New year do!

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The venue is booked, the entertainment confirmed; I’m please to say the fabulous Andy Mack (Yes as heard on Wigan 10K route) is ours for the night! All that is left to do is confirm numbers for food. We’re planning on having a selection of hot and cold options and snacks too!

We are asking for deposits to be paid by 28th November (Sefton Park Cross Country is on that day so pack your spikes and your fivers please).

Your social events team is Nina / Becki / Mel.

 

2015 Women’s records updated

What a fantastic list we now have of performances this year. With the Women’s records now updated it’s possible to see just how well the club and it’s members have been running in 2015.

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Autumn highlights were the large number of ladies running the Wigan 10k and the many personal bests being smashed!

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It’s also great to see all the new members making their presence felt – well done on those ever improving times!

https://wiganharriersendurance.wordpress.com/records/club-records-2015/

As ever either sign up the Power of Ten website to automatically log your performances or send the details through on a mail.

Happy running!

 

Derwentwater 10

The Ups & Downs of Derwentwater 10 by Karen Schofield

It started off looking bleak and gloomy with all the fog, which inevitably would make it harder to breathe and so a difficult race for a PB. As we got closer to Keswick the fog lifted and there was unusually for time of year glorious sunshine, so much so Warren was considering sun -block, well needs must when your bald. It was a debut for our Harrier hoodies and we were perspiring after the short 1/2 mile jog to registration, it was clearly not a hoody day.

The course had been altered for safety reasons from previous years, cutting out the crossing and long stretch of the busy main road down to the finish line. We were reliably informed by a Marshall that this new route made the course quicker, however the now unreliable Marshall never told us about the final hill climb to the slightly downhill, more undulating finish.

We gathered at the start, same point as previous years to be told this year saw a record number of entries. To cut out the congestion of the narrow right bend at the start, it was now going to be a rolling start from the icon Moot Hall home of the Bob Graham Round.

We set off, both with our own ideas of times and neither of us having done any specific training for this race. In fact we had not done our usually 9 or 10 mile training loop since before the Lakeland 50 and so whilst Warren seemed to have little concern, I was very anxious about his certainty that I could come in, in under 1h 20mins (he did later confess that he thought I could do it in 1h 17mins).

As any runner knows it’s always an advantage to know the course and whats coming your way. The first 4 miles Warren would describe as rolling and slightly downhill until you hit the Southerly point of Derwentwater. I would describe them as undulating, up and down and I think, I may have blocked the course out of my memory as I did not recall it being this tough. I was struggling, I glanced at my watch and my timings were off, my head went with it and as I hit the only drinks station at 5 miles, I came to a standstill. Yes I stopped just long enough to drink the cup of water and even ask for a second and guzzle that down too. It was enough of a pause to glance around and get my head back to were it should be. When I stopped I was not having fun,  however I was determined I would set off again, stop looking at my watch and just go for it and have fun. I knew the dreaded hill was coming up and it no longer daunted me. Warren was taking the first 5 miles in his stride and averaging 6:40 minute miles, a little slower than last year but whilst he, like everyone else would always love a PB he was not expecting one. The best part of Warren’s race was yet to come.

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After crossing the bridge at the southern point of the lake, it can only be worded as steep hills and what seemed like very little but steep descents. Slowing my pace down from sub 8 minute miles to a 9:25 minute mile. Warren actually attacked the hill far harder than last year keeping a steady pace of 7:45. The hill I would describe as a beast and I’m sure Warren would agree, in fact I actually managed enough breath to vocally agree with another runner that this is definitely a beast of a course.

Towards the end there are some short steep descents to pick up a bit of time but you have to be careful this time of year with all the wet leaves on the road which makes the surface particularly slipping. I had just been going for it ever since my mini melt down at mile 5 and so hadn’t even noticed running past the 7 and 8 mile markers. As I got to the 9 mile marker I hesitantly looked at my watch and realised that if I just carried on at a similar pace I could actually finish well under 1h 20mins. From this point it was head down and all out to the finish line. Warren was constantly checking his watch and knew it would be touch and go. He had set out with the intention of running sub 1h 13mins (within 2 mins of last year). As he got closer and closer to the finish he knew that a fast last mile would see him close to last years result and even possibly, dare he think it never mind say it, a PB. Head down Warren went all out for the finish line and left his watch running to time me. I will put this mistake down to his sheer tiredness from the effort he just exerted as now he would have to wait for the official times to come out – a long, drawn out, agonising wait till about 6pm (argh – I don’t believe he will make this mistake again).

Finally the results came out and 2 PB’s in the Schofield-Moorfield household. Mine was a massive improvement on last year knocking just short of 8 minutes off and finishing in a time of 1h 16 mins 7 secs. Warren knocked 7 seconds off last years time and finished in a time of 1h 9 mins 40 secs. After all this hard work we then finished off our Sunday with our usual Sunday post race ritual of a curry.

Whilst this is a story of the ups and downs of this years Derwentwater 10, that being the ups and downs of the racers, as well as the course this is certainly an event any road runner should try. The race is all on road and even if you only try it once it will be worth it, in fact I would be amazed if you only try it once, because once you’ve tried it, you will be hooked, we certainly are. The whole of the route it has to be said is beautifully picturesque as you run along the road beside the lake and at any moment if you feel like your struggling and can’t go on all you have to do is take in your surroundings and if that doesn’t spur you on then nothing will.

Standish Hall Trail Race

Standish Hall Trail Race report from Mark Morgan-Hillam – Saturday 31st October

A mild Halloween Saturday afternoon saw five enthusiastic Wigan Harriers enter rival territory for the twice yearly Standish Hall Trail race, hosted by Wigan Phoenix. Catherine and Paul Fisher were present, as were Nina Pilkington, Stuart Towns and myself. Tim Pwas also on hand, kindly marshalling in the deep, dark woods! The race usually boasts a field of approximately 200, but we noted on the startline how much quieter than usual it was – probably affected by the inaugural Haigh Hall Parkrun, which took place earlier in the day.

And so it was that 78 runners departed along the farm tracks to tackle the well trodden, approximate figure of eight, 10k route. The course has a good mixture of everything; firm farm tracks, single file muddy trail, fast downhill and gloopy, muddy uphill. The course runs very differently in October to February – the latter is always a total mudfest! On this occasion the course was still wet in places, (Elnup Woods is always muddy!) but generally reasonably dry and forgiving.

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As for the race, the reduced field was apparent from the off as I found myself in the leading pack. For the first time ever, I could count my position in the race so, from 6th, I knew what I had to do to make the top 5 and get into the prizes! Stuart was handily tucked into the next group. As we hit the first uphill, I could tell the two guys in-front weren’t going to like the uphill as much as me, so I let them lead me downhill into the muddy wood section and, as the course swings back uphill after a particularly unusual stile/gate/switchback-bikeproof-thingie, I moved into 5th and then chased down the 4th place bloke as we headed up towards the crossroads in the middle of the course.

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As we pounded back downhill into the woods I was well clear and knew, barring embarrassing slips/falls, 4th was the worst case scenario. I had brief hopes of catching the 3rd place runner when I could spot him through the trees as we climbed again, but he ran on strongly to maintain a 30 second gap to the finish. Still, it was very exciting to actually run in contention for places and I was naturally delighted with 4th place and a time of 40.13 for a muddy, hilly 10k – a course PB for me by nearly 2 minutes.

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Stuart was soon pounding into the finish, finishing really strongly in 7th place in 42.12 – also a course PB for him. It’s a shame the course wasn’t another 400 metres longer as he may well have tagged the 6th place runner.

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It was Nina’s first run on the course and she finished well in 50.33 – 32nd overall and 6th lady. She had managed to not start her watch successfully at the start and didn’t seem keen on our idea that she went round again so that she could record it properly!

Paul was next in and seemed to have really enjoyed the run, (you’ll have to check with him though – he may say different!) 52.40 and 46th was certainly a decent performance though – especially considering he was recently knocked off his bike!

Catherine was next to arrive and worked really hard for a pleasing time of 57.42 – 56th place and 14th lady. I think she was pleased to see the finish line but you would never have known it from her strong finish!

And so to the presentation ceremony back at the Britannia Hotel and a decent haul for the Harriers. My daughters were most dischuffed when I didn’t receive the 4th place prize and it took a while for them to understand that winning a veteran category was a better prize then 4th! I was first Vet 40 but won the overall vet cat prize as the actual race winner was also the leading vet. This meant that Stuart was promoted to the 1st vet 40 prize – happy days! Nina was also 2nd lady vet 35 and was promoted to the first prize under the same rule. Three lots of Endurance Store vouchers for a team of happy Harriers!

Mostly though, the event was the usual friendly, local affair proving – to me at least – that a good little race always beats a big, corporate event. Thanks to the Phoenix for hosting and well done to all the Red ‘n’ Blacks!

OMM 2015

The OMM-inous Adventure Race starring Karen Schofield & Warren Moorfield

Our weekend started Friday morning full of excitement and for me unlike Warren the usual nerves and anxiety were also present. This was going to be a weekend like no other, 2 days in the Scottish Boarders, totally self sufficient carrying everything from spare clothing, waterproofs, a tent and two days of food – well freeze-dried chicken tikka and rice if that can be classed as food. We set off from Wigan heading to the Event Centre and Camp Site at Tweedsmuir.

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We arrived 154 miles and 2:30 hours later, the journey up was swift and smooth, no hold-ups, no traffic jams it couldn’t have gone any better and the weather was perfect. There was a slight wind, the ground was a little damp but the sun was shining through the clouds as we pitched our tent without any hiccups. We had practiced this 2 days earlier given the last time I had pitched a tent was over 10 years ago, Ok, slight lie it was actually more like 20 years ago but whose counting.

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We strolled the 5-10 minute walk up to the Event Centre (a Barn), which had registration for all the different courses set out. For those who don’t know, there is an Elite Course, then A, B, C, and D Courses (D being the easiest of those) then there were 3 Score Courses, Short, Medium and Long. The Score Courses we learned have the advantage of you can pick up as many points as you want and when you’ve had enough then just head for the next camp. We were told that you could even just go from camp to camp and be classed as finishing but would be last having picked up no points – not sure if this is actually true. In the Barn was also every bit of kit that could be needed on sale and it seemed as though everyone was buying something, at one point I wondered if we were the only 2 people who had actually brought all the required kit from home. Then there was the hot food, hot drinks and also the beer, wine and cider, I immediately knew what I was having later.

There were event organizers and helpers everywhere, chatting to all the competitors who were all chatting amongst each other. It was a very warm and welcoming atmosphere, the most asked questions had to be and in this order; have you done the OMM before? and what course are you doing? Our answers were NO, and Warren joked the first time saying we are OMM virgins. Our second answer was Course B and this got an unexpected response. The first OMM organizer simply said “ahh, interesting choice, think you should speak to Giles about navigating” There was definitely something ominous about the way he said it. Anyway we thought no, we have done our navigation course, we have spent time running in the lakes, we can do this.
When Giles came over the conversation went like this “I believe this is your first time doing the OMM. “ “Yes it is.” What course are you doing?” “Course B” “Mmm interesting choice…(long pause)…how’s your navigation as thats the main thing.” “ We feel confident about navigation, we have done a training day on the fells brushing up on our map skills.” “Well all I can say is choosing the right route is key, its all about route choice.” “We are confident we will be fine.” – this would be a lesson later learned. In hindsight, I think the best words to use here to describe us would be overconfident, cocksure and foolhardy, but we were having a ball at this point and we had a super evening meal to look forward to.

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As always, I’m obsessed with planning ahead and whilst I like camping and the outdoors, I also like a good meal and with the prospect of freeze-dried meal pouches and 9 bars for the next 2 days, I had been determined that we would have a proper meal on the Friday to get us going. The Mill Inn at Coulter (Restaurant and Bar) had been researched and booked for 6:30pm by me on the Thursday before. Haggis, steak, wine and whiskey awaited us and if I’m ever in that area again this place is a must visit. After stuffing our faces we drove the 25 minutes back to the camp site and by now it was not only raining but the wind also seemed to be picking up.

We went back to the Event Centre tried to listen to some of the 3 talks being put on but it was too loud with everyone having their own little group conversations. The only thing we really got from the organizers was that the weather had been ordered (they said with a smug smile), typical make it as difficult as possible weather, wind and rain all day Saturday but hopefully some let up and better conditions for the Sunday.

We unpacked our rucksacks to decide later what we thought we could leave behind, anything we did not take could go back in the car in the morning. All this to limit the weight we would carry over the next 2 days. Turns out, not that much in the end got left behind and this would later be another invaluable lesson for us.
We decided an early night was needed, alarm set for 7am, as it was a 15-20 minute up hill trek to the start line and we were starting at 9:46am. A good nights sleep, that’s what’s needed before a 2 day event like this – Oh how I wish that was possible. The weather had other ideas. The whole night our tent along with everyone else’s was battered with howling wind and rain. I have to say I slept very little and the constant thought of the fact we were camping in a field with a river right along the edge was adding to my anxiety. I tried very hard to sleep and believe Warren faired much better than me. I said one thing to him at around 5am “This night is never ending.”

I was nonetheless determined as always when that alarm went off at 7am. We got up, got dressed and had breakfast. We then packed our rucksacks and at that point it was time to leave the tent and pack that away too. The wind was unfortunately still howling and the raining still pelting the tent and floor. It became clear as we stepped outside that the ground was not only saturated but there was now a clear film of rain across the field (flooded, I guess you could say) with deep puddles in some sections and of course those sections had to be right in front of the portaloos and the water stations.

We made our way up to the start, still confident and still excited about our adventure. No matter what course you do this is a team event so everyone was coupled up and raring to go. As we approached the start each course had a different line. There were lots of teams lined up waiting to start on the 3 Score Courses and the C and D Courses. We made our way past them and we were the only ones at the front in the B Course line – Ominous. Warren was carrying the chip dabber on his wrist so we dabbed in the start, and my pulse began to race as we waited in anticipation of the hooter sounding. As soon as it sounded we collected our map (you don’t get it in advance) and we paused to look at the first check point and mark out a baring with our compass.

We set off, determined to take a straight line, the shortest route between the points, straight up the steep slope. Made the first checkpoint, elated we had this down, we could navigate. Then the we set our compass again for the second checkpoint and followed that needle. We had one plan, one motto ‘we would do it ourselves and not follow anyone else’. We made a slight error finding the second checkpoint but we found it easy enough and it was so much fun. Knowing everyone was doing different courses, teams were criss-crossing each other all over the place and whist it was still raining and windy it seemed to be easing off which each passing minute. We were having real fun now. The ground under foot was so saturated and boggy that as we headed to checkpoint 2 with lots of others my left foot seemed to hit the ground and go down forever as my whole lower leg was swallowed whole by the bog right up to my knee knocking me off balance. As I fell forward my face planted full on into Warren’s backside, it took me longer to get my leg out because I was howling with laughter, thank god Warren was in front of me and not some stranger. I’m not even sure if face planting into a strangers butt would even qualify for an apology, I mean what would you say “sorry my face hit your bum, hope my nose didn’t hurt you too much.”

Anyway onwards as we hit checkpoint 2 and dabbed in. Again we set the compass and headed off following the needle to checkpoint 3, the terrain was clearly starting to get much harder now as the map showed rolling hills, no they were definitely mountains ahead once we had cleared the bogs. Not one to like to leave anyone out it was inevitable that as we made our way back from checkpoint 2 into the open to move on to checkpoint 3 that I was going to end up knee deep yet again. Yes this time my left leg just to even things up. I have to say a little irked that Warren did not sink once through the bogs but as he would later find out, the calamities would not be confined to myself but sad to say no more face planting.

The third checkpoint took us up and over a massive hill then down a steep face and back up a steep climb to a stream (burn in Scotland) source. The devastating part was that we had planned to go roughly 5k (3 miles) per hour and it had taken us 40 minutes to cover our first mile. It was slowly dawning upon us that this was going to be a long day, much longer than we had planned or anticipated – ominous.

We set the compass again the needle pointing to checkpoint 4 and we set off. We had done no running up to this point. The mountains were covered in heather and bracken and everywhere was saturated and the rivers were swollen and fast flowing. We seemed to just go up over, down and up over and down every mountain and when we tried to pick up the pace going down hill it ended up either skidding down on our backsides or even worse sliding a few times with one leg or both underneath us – ouch!! There were hundreds of runners doing the B Course and yet we were alone for what seemed like hours, trekking our own path with not a sole in sight, not even in the far distance – we had to be doing something wrong.

To say we were getting more and more disheartened with every step is probably an understatement as to how we were feeling in that moment. We made it to within a couple hundred meters of checkpoint 4 at the top of the third successive mountain we climbed since the last check point and decided enough was enough. We were no longer having fun and for us once we said out loud “this is no longer fun anymore,” that was the beginning of the end for us. We had gone 8 miles in 5:30 hours and we had 10 miles to go to the next camp site with 7 more checkpoints. We were not going to make the cut off time and we would still be out in the mountains navigating in the dark – our worst nightmare coming true. We put the compass away and relying solely on the map we found the nearest road, headed for it, the sole mission of getting back to the start camp, getting in the car and just heading home. We could be home and asleep in our bed that night and to be honest nothing sounded better than that.

The road back was long and it was clearly going to take us a couple of hours to walk back but we had no choice. The road was lonely and winding and even worse the wind and rain were now beginning to pick up again, the gods were against us. Then a miracle, our saviour appeared, the distinctive sound of a car engine. Warren’s determination was back, this time determined that we would get a lift and so out went his best hitching thumb and as the car came to a stop he noticed the OMM sticker, yes a Marshall, thank the Lord for Marshals. We collected two more drop outs, (sorry the correct term is retirees) from the B Course and headed back to the start. Car full and unable to collect anymore dropouts on the way and there were a lot more than I had expected, it now became clear just how hard a course we had chosen and how naive we had been to pick a B Course for our first ever OMM.

We should have researched more and asked more questions, we had no idea what to expect when we signed up for the B Course. We had expected maybe 23K for the first day and 18K for the second day. It was actually 27.9K for the first day and 28K for the second day and on horrendously difficult terrain – lesson learned.

We gave the chip dabber back confirming or team number jumped in the car and headed home. Once home and able to reflect it was clear were we went wrong and the words “it’s all about the route choice” stuck in my mind. We opted for the shortest route, but when we studied the map properly its clear the shortest route is by no means the fastest route and the truth is the best bit of navigating we did was when we gave up, put the compass away and planned the best way back to the start – not the shortest route but the easiest. That is what we should have done during the event, taken more time at the checkpoints to look at and discuss the best route – lesson learned.

We also had way too much stuff, too many items of clothing, we were both wearing layers and layers and we were boiling hot, overheating in fact which made moving about much harder and uncomfortable. There are quite a few items we could have left out of our rucksacks and on this type of event, the lighter the better.

This is by no means a success story but whilst we did not complete the OMM it has to be said that we learnt an awful lot and it has not deterred us. It was not all doom and gloom and we enjoyed most of it. In fact more than anything it has made us more determined to go back and give it another go. What wisdom can we share from this experience to anyone else thinking of giving this event a go; first, DO IT, it is amazing and you’ll love it; second, BE PREPARED, its going to be tough and for large parts its not run-able; third, CHOOSE SENSIBLY, start with a score course and work your way up through the courses: Fourth, NAVIGATION, NAVIGATION, NAVIGATION, work out the easiest route for your team, it maybe 3 miles longer but it probably is a lot faster in the long run; fifth, HAVE FUN, enjoy your surroundings an event like this truly encapsulates everything that is wonderful, awe inspiring, beautiful and magnificent about our countryside.

 

Bristol to Bath Marathon

Many moons ago I had signed up for this marathon in a moment of panic / reflection writes Gary Wane. I’d finished the Lakeland 50 and felt like my running future was uncertain. A now what moment. I entered this in the hope to keep the running fire simmering and not ebb away. It gave me something to aim for. My training was hit and miss trying to fit 3-4 runs a week in-between family life and a 60+hr working week. I managed some long weekend runs and even a few 3 run weeks. Then out of nowhere, it was the week before.

I travelled down to Bristol on the Saturday and booked into our nice farmhouse B+B. It turns out it’s haunted and guests have told of strange noises in the night. The only strange noises I heard was Imogen’s snoring and complaining of sleeping on a frozen air bed. She ended up in bed with us so I had a night of snoring in my ear (Imogen not Mel…) and elbows to the head as she does not stay still, even when asleep. The next morning we travelled to Bristol on the park and ride bus and at 9am I was off. The first thing that struck me was unfamiliar running tops. I was a long way from home.

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The first few miles were OK running through Bristol, a nice out and back along the river Avon (I think?) but on 7 miles I saw runners on the road above me. Everyone was still in high spirits though and chatting about all sorts from the Rugby World cup to car buying. There was a sharp uphill onto a bypass. I was up it easily enough and feeling fine. I got to half way in high spirits thinking I may push on a bit here. Famous last words.

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On 14miles we hit a steep uphill. The pace slowed dramatically and I saw many walking around me. There were supporters on each side of the road geeing everybody on. From here on in,the atmosphere of the run changed. It was very quiet. The conversations had stopped. The general chats around me disappeared and became encouragement for each other. The support stepped up a notch though. On every hill people were outside their houses banging drums, waving flags, shouting encouragement, giving out jelly babies and some even had cowbells. Ever incline from here to the finish was either, “100m and you’re there!” or even, “Just around that corner!” Problem was 100m up the road or around the corner, they were saying the same thing!! However, atmosphere wise, It’s probably the closest I’ll get to being at the Tour De France. At times there was barely room for 2-3 runners to run alongside with supporters on each side. For the next few miles there were up hills and downs and I gave up on any sort of time. I looked at the runners around me, saw their gurns and realised I was passing them. I decided to use them as my pace guide. Lots passing me, try and speed up, no-one passing me, try and hold that pace. And that’s what I did. Then mile 20 arrived.

A brutal hill. Very steep. I saw a couple of girls walking and crying. I saw another runner pull up with cramp. 200ft of climbing altogether at a crucial point of the race. I passed a man at the top lying on the road attached to an ECG monitor, 2-3 paramedics around him. A man with his arm around his friend supporting him up the hill. It was hard to keep my focus. What made it worse was the sharp dip after. My quads and calves were on fire. Moral going. I needed to give my head a wobble. I picked a spot in the distance and ran towards it.

Soon I was running another sharp uphill on around 23 miles. Many people were walking at this point, so I kept my head down, arms pumping and feet moving. “Do not walk!” was my new mantra. I probably would have been quicker walking but it was about pride. About not stopping. About finishing and not having regrets. About the fact I’d set out to run a marathon and I was going to do just that. I saw 2 more runners crying, others saying that they couldn’t make it. I just kept moving, blanking everything around me. I dug deep.

Miles 24(ish) to 25 were downhill. A relief but hard work at the same time. I was now in the centre of Bath. The support was immense. Crowds lining both sides to cheer everyone home. I lifted and felt better. The last half mile or so is uphill and hard work but I just kept going. Look ahead, catch the person in front, pass them. Repeat. That’s all I kept doing. Some I never caught but I gave it a good go. I turned a corner 400m or so from home. I saw another man unconscious attached to an ECG. So close to the end. Keep moving. Look ahead, catch the person in front, pass them. Repeat. It’s all I could do.

I turned into the park, I could hear the finish line announcer. Another uphill. Just 5-10m incline in 100m or so but so close to the finish was cruel. I saw Mel and Imogen and knew I was nearly finished. Soon I was up and could see the finish. It seemed miles away. It wasn’t, I was being soft, it was 100m. “Sort it out Gaz!” I said aloud and had a reply, “Yeah mate, we made it!” Instinct took over, I kicked. “BEAT HIM!!!!” I did. I had finished and run the whole route (just about although if there were any officials on the route would have debated it at times). 4hrs 3mins and 30 seconds. 1615th place out of 4205 runners. I’ll take that. My proudest stat. In the 2nd half of the run when it had got tougher, I made up over 300 places.

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My time, not great, but I never do well on Marathons. But a race I’m glad I did. The fire is back and burning bright. 2016, I’m hoping to put my marathon ghosts to bed. In fact, I’ll send them to the B+B we stayed in.

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