2019 Wigan Trail 10k race report

The 2019 Wigan Trail 10k Race saw a record number of entrants take to the start line. It was 12 degrees with full sun and little breeze so perfect running conditions although a few runners were starting regret not wearing sun cream by the end!

In tonight’s news round up we will look at what happened at the front of the race in the battle for the race prizes!

Taking the race out fast from the start was number 36 Richard Smith from Leigh Harriers. Tucked in with the early pace group was Gavin Sweeney 394 (U/A) and Ian Roberts 346 (Liverpool PS). It would be this group that would stay closely together for the first few km.

Chasing that lead group hard in the opening stages was Wigan Harrier Rick Rose-Coulthard 309.

The ladies race was a little more fragmented in the opening stages but showing an early sign of strength was Kelly Hamilton 77 of St Helens Striders. Some way back was local lady Karen Moorfield 365 (Wigan Phoenix), tracked by Danielle Scott 369 (Knowsley Harriers). Further back perhaps making a more cautious start or caught up in start line congestion were Marie Jarvis 156 (Salford Harriers) and Rebecca Lovegrove 240 (U/A).

By the time the men were running past the lake there were clear daylight to the front pack of three but starting to move more to the front was Gavin Sweeney in the dark vest.

Further back positions were starting to change. Moving through the field nicely was Stephen Campbell 129 (Knowsley Harriers) perhaps benefiting from a more cautious start.

In the ladies race Kelly Hamilton was still looking strong but again the positions behind were starting to change dramatically.

Marie Jarvis 154 (Salford Harriers) had moved nicely through the field.

A little further back in 5th place was Rebecca Lovegrove (U/A) who seemed to still have designs on the podium.

In the second half of the men’s race everything was blown open. Gavin Sweeney made his move, pulling away strongly from the rest of the field to win in a course best of 34.09.

Racing hard into second place was Ian Roberts in 35.49.

Moving through the field to take an excellent third place was Stephen Campbell in 36.15

Back to the ladies race and it was looking increasingly likely who the winner would be!

Taking that top spot was Kelly Hamilton in 40.59. Much like in the men’s race there had been changes behind the front runner!

Coming home in second place was Marie Jarvis of Salford Harriers in 42.50.

Clinching that 3rd spot was Rebecca Lovegrove who finished the race strongly in 43.05.

Congratulations to our race winners. More news and photos to come later in the week.

 

DATE FOR 2020 IS 10TH MAY 10.30AM

 

 

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Sandbaggers on tour (Certificate 18)

SANDBAGGERS ON TOUR/MY RUNNING STAG DO

If your reading this be prepared to have a box of tissues at the ready, because if this race report does not have you in tears of laughter I don’t know what will.

It all started when I went shopping with Emma the week before when Katie Green served us as she usually does. The next words that came out of her mouth was ‘I’m really worried about what’s going to happen with you idiots when you go away next week. Her intuition was right, everything she thought would happen basically did.

4.45am on Saturday Morning on the 8th of December, the alarm went off and it was time to go to the Airport wondering what the next three days would have in store for me, an hour later I met up with the other Sandbaggers of Chris Green, Jonathan Kearsley, Kyle Hazelaar and we were dropped off at the Airport whilst taking bets on the way that either myself or Kyle would get stopped at Airport security due to our ethnicity. We took a picture at the Arabic and Chinese board for a laugh and also I couldn’t read the English one very well so it was a good thing it was there. The bags went through and the three Sandbaggers luggage went through without a problem apart from you guessed it mine. My heart sank and the laughter rose from Kyle, Jonny and Chris as they cottoned on what had happened. ‘why me, why now! I thought, as I managed a nervous giggle. The security guy opened my bag and did a search with a swab stick to where Chris said that the security guy had detected various sexual infections on the swab, much to the sandbaggers and the security guys amusement, after the I got the all clear, a bit of breakfast and Kyle spending at least 30 minutes on the toilet for some reason we finally got on the flight to Malaga, where the banter continued.

On the flight, I was sat in the middle of Chris and Jonny and I know now that if I was to go away with them again, I’ll book to sit somewhere else or make sure I have the strongest coffee to stay awake because the banter was relentless. Kyle who sat next to us across the aisle fell asleep 20 minutes into the flight, and Jonny with a bottle of water wet his crotch. I knew both Jonny and Chris were up to something with me as well and I tried my hardest to stay awake, I managed to get a bit of sleep before waking back up because I needed the toilet that’s when Jonny struck with the water bottle with me and I had to do the walk of shame down the plane with Jonny shouting ‘are you a nervous flyer Rayford.’ In the middle of the flight the lads had agreed to reveal what I’d be wearing for the marathon and Chris pulled out the worst thing I could wear possible, a Manchester City and have Liverpool top with Steven Gerrard on the back, I wanted to projectile vomit and have the ground swallow me up, I’d never seen something so filthy in my life and I had no other option but to wear it now. Jonny decided to wet me again before we were due to land and I walked onto Spanish soil with a wet crotch and disgusted locals glaring at me. A few hours in, I knew this Stag do was going ruthless.

After arriving at the apartment, collecting our numbers from the Marathon expo and doing a bit of sight seeing it turned into early evening and we all decided after Chris suggested on having a meal and a FEW drinks and getting back for a reasonable time. We all decided on pizza but Kyle decided on a tuna Pizza and how he was made to pay for the consequences later on. One alcoholic drink turned into another then into stronger alcoholic, the crazy suggestions of going out all night and then running the marathon straight after was flying about. I ended up breaking a chair due to my excessive winter weight. Jonny and Kyle couldn’t wait to pass on the opportunity to get out their phones and take photos of me and post it on Facebook instantly even the Spanish in the square where we were eating were in tears of laughter. A little afterwards Chris broke Jonny’s dreams after he suggested he reckoned he could run sub 3 in the marathon the next day and he replied bluntly and a with a laugh of ‘no you can’t’, and to end it all I had to get pulled out of the bar by Kyle and Chris because we were absolutely ring bolted and it was descending into chaos. We staggered back to the apartment where reality hit Kyle and said ‘F#%* me Rayf’, we’re running a marathon tomorrow. What are we doing?’ I just laughed in a drunken state and fell asleep. What happened next I’ll never forget.

The morning of the Marathon I woke up to a noise, it wasn’t my alarm and I noticed it was still pitch black outside. It was a noise I can best describe as a whale dying, it was Kyle and he was being violently sick. The tuna pizza had caught up with him and he woke up the whole apartment with his vomiting. He knew at the moment he f&@ked up! as he crawled back to bed I noticed myself that the room was spinning and I had only a few hours before I had to run a Marathon. The next time I woke up it was to the sound of Chris Green shouting ONNNNNN! Oh dear, the room was still spinning and I had a massive headache, Kyle just get going I’m still spinning and ohhhhhh, whilst both Jonny and Chris slowly made there way to have breakfast and I had to put that wretched shirt on, I never felt so dirty in my life. We only had 45 minutes to get the start and we were a state.

On the way to the Start line, Chris, Jonny and Kyle were singing Blue Moon and You’ll never walk alone. These were the songs I heard repeatedly for the four hours. On the Start line all four of us were stood there just staring into the abyss, Kyle repeating saying ‘What the F&@k are we doing’. It all seemed a dream but it wasn’t we were still leathered and we faced a nightmare scenario. The gun went and we all agreed previously that Jonny should go for it with the shape he’s currently in. He weaved through the ground and off he went which left myself, Chris and Kyle to slog it out, across the start line with all three of us shouting ONNNN! The Marathon started.

Mile 1 had passed and Kyle asked when the first Water Station was, Chris said there’s one a 5k, Kyle groaned followed by his 202nd ‘Feck’, of that morning, Chris followed UP with but Kylie in 2.4km we’ll have 8 parkraces left. Kyle groaned again. Mile 3 and Chris’s shoelace decided to come undone, the amount of runners that told him his shoelace was undone from mile 3 to mile 23 must of been in the hundreds but his responses changed from ‘yes thank you, yes I know to feck off I know’. I find amusing. We came up to 10 km along the pier and we saw Jonny going the other way coming up to 12 km shouting ‘Golly gosh boys it’s on!’, and off he flew. At 11Km the first spectator shouted Go on City at me, Chris and Kyle burst in laughter and started singing Blue Moon and You’ll never walk alone again much to my joy.
As we ran up to Marbella and back down again, Kyle was struggling but Chris positivity kept us both going and coming up to halfway we saw Kelly Withers looking rather weary going the other way and we gave the best encourage we could as she was on her own. We passed Kelly’s parents before we ran back into the City centre to a rapturous ovation. They loved Chris’s pink hair the shouts of Vamos, Allez and something that sounded like Animal pushed us on into the second part of the race. We got passed 14 miles and Chris’s persistent singing of You’ll never walk alone and ‘Kylie you’ve only got 5 more parkraces kept us going, the song choices changed from You’ll never walk alone to Rhythm is a Dancer as Kyle was continue to struggle and he wanted to hear some 90’s dance songs. The 25 km marker came and Chris decides to run backwards through it. Myself and Kyle are looking at each other thinking how has he got this much energy.

At 16 miles is something that will I never forget, Chris started singing You’ll walk alone again as we passed them and they started singing it, my pace increased dramatically then. At 17 miles still running 8 minute miling, Kyle say’s ‘He’s suffering’, Chris then says to Kyle not mentioning names but along these lines ‘think of a certain female at home in high heels and something else’. Kyle’s pace increased at that moment that quickly even Eliud Kipchoge wouldn’t of got near him. We got to mile 19 and stadium section where Chris decides to sprint on the track and then run back for us and then decides to run backwards again. The next four miles after that I can describe the worst I’ve ever ran, the heat was getting up, the banter and chit chat had become brief apart from Chris saying ‘are you ok Rayford’, I’d reply with ‘I’m good’, he’d reply again with ‘you’re talking b#llocks, why are you lying to me,’ I wanted to laugh but I was too tired to and at Mile 23 and half, all three of us decided to stop and walk for half a mile to compose ourselves again. We got to mile 24, near Malaga’s football ground and decided right it’s the last two mile lets finish it off. We pulled our pace back down again and through the City centre at Mile 25 Chris and I started to belt out I’m feeling good by MUSE.

We swung around the City Centre under the Christmas lights and there was the finish not before I was heckled by a Manchester United fan saying ‘feck off City,’ as we ran down the road to see Jonny beaming after he ran a 3.05, we finished arm in arm, we completely winged a Marathon, a true test of what teamwork was.

On the Beach after the Marathon, we had to ‘GET IN THE SEA’, to help our legs recover and we decided to bury Kyle alive, the poor man was practically dead, as we left the beach literally we found that Kelly had finished and we were all made for her. She ran a marathon by herself in some severe heat, she showed she has some serious bottle.

After a Nap we heading out on the town, we were sat relaxing in the Irish bar and Kyle introduced us to Creepy Crawford, a randomer and then Kelly eventually joined us. I don’t remember much of that night after that apart from drinking a awful cocktail, sitting on Picasso’s statue, Kyle making Crawford cry after he said we’re moving on from you and shouting ONNNN, so we could sprint away from him through the streets of Malaga and then myself getting lost only to be found by the lads hearing my vomiting noises from down the Street. We at 3am decided to call it a night, it really had be some day.

All I can say is Malaga was of the best weekends I’ve ever had and said this before but thank you to the Lads and Kelly for making my stag do what it was.

RAYFORD


 

Hyndburn by Lorraine Cunliffe

“Let’s go shopping tomorrow,” declared Mr C, much to my surprise as this is definitely not his number one choice of pastimes. Then he mentioned Real Buzz and it became apparent … he meant running related shopping!! Bang went the 3 inch high heeled patent shoes that I was dreaming of – Shaun had spikes of a completely different nature in mind – cross country spikes!

Having never run cross country at school, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for and it certainly wasn’t something that I had ever considered taking up at my age but… Having secured a ballot place for London (thanks again Mr C!) I thought it was time to get a little more serious about my running and start strengthening those legs of mine to ensure that they have a chance of carrying me round a meagre 26.2 miles. So, much to my own surprise, I agreed and two hours later found myself with the afore mentioned spikes in hand.

I really didn’t know what to expect at all. I hadn’t initially signed up for the cross country races as I was reserving judgement until I’d heard my running buddy (Denise’s) thoughts about Sefton Park. Needless to say, last Saturday, I found myself sitting (rather quietly and nervously) in the car, which incidentally looked like we were going on a fortnight’s skiing holiday, heading towards the sunnier climates of Hyndburn. “It looks like its brightening up,” I was told as I looked up at some rather dubious dark clouds – I wasn’t too convinced and I was right not to be. As we parked up, the heavens opened literally – timed to perfection!

We spotted Team Heyes and Simmo masquerading as market stallholder sheltering from the sudden downpour, so we set off across a rather muddy (and slippery) field to battle the elements and erect the women’s tent. Once it was up, we huddled together like penguins to keep warm and at this point I honestly thought to myself – What on earth am I doing? Then I remembered, Pauline Taylor had manged to complete this very course with a broken ankle. Time for me to shut up, man up and derobe (brrrrr). By the way, anyone who knows me realises that being cold and wet are not really options for me. Miss Cunliffe (AKA photographer and support crew for the day) was sent to tell me to warm up. Great I thought, time to get my layers back on. Absolutely not. What it really meant was that her dad had sent her to tell me to start jogging up and down the field – in the rain!!! But hey – I did it – if only to stop myself from dying of hypothermia.

After a delayed start and overcoming the most dangerous obstacle of the day – avoiding getting your spikes stuck in the orange netting as we jumped over it (slight exaggeration with the word jump), the gun sounded. Heeding Jackie’s advice to stay high or face the choice of running back up the slope again – and believe me that was not going to happen – we were off. The first lap took us half way round the football field and through a dark undulating wooded area that was, at times, ankle deep with mud. Then, we literally had to get over the next hurdle – a stream (think gazelles Ms Jones!!) to re-join the course.

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British Athletics Liverpool Cross Challenge

After October’s rain sodden race at Ulverston it was time for one of the biggest fixtures of the season at Sefton Park. It was the 18th year that the Mid Lancs XC league had taken part in the Liverpool Cross Challenge. Originally the league was recruited to fill out the junior fields and the event has become a popular fixture in the Mid Lancs calendar.

Across the different events there are 37 clubs with entry of 1265 runners. It’s a fantastic way of taking part in a race involving elites. The challenge is usually to avoid being lapped!

The first event at Ulverston saw a Harriers entry limited to just 5 men, this meant that only the M40 team scored points. This meant it was vital we had a big entry and scored heavily. Wigan Harriers certainly didn’t disappoint! 15 ladies and 14 men – an awesome turnout. ⚫️❤️⚫️

Conditions were excellent, Sefton Park has never been so dry, probably too dry as parts of the were rutted. First up for the seniors were the ladies running 8.1 km.

Leading the ladies home was Danielle Brearton who has carried her excellent summer form into the autumn. The strength in depth and numbers meant the Ladies achieved these fantastic results.

The first 3 ladies counted as the A team and came in 6th, the next 3 were the  B team and were 12th. Both are L35 and L45 teams were 2nd behind a very strong Lytham St Annes.

Next up were the Men with 9.8 km of fast racing!

 

Making a brilliant debut to bring the men home was Jonathan Kearsley. Again with strong teams we were able to score heavily.

The first six men counted as the A team and came 15th and with plenty of male runners we were able to score as a B team too in 30th place. M40 were 4th and the V50 were 8th.

A quick scan through the updated results and then a lengthy calculation on how we fared against just the teams in our divisions yields the following provisional results for Sefton. (Polite way of saying I might have slipped an error in). Note 4 best results count (most of our teams didn’t score at Ulverston) so we we need to repeat!

Ladies 2nd place Div 1
L35 2nd place (only 1 Div)
L45 2nd place (only 1 Div)

Men 3rd place Div 2
V40 2nd place Div 1
V50 8th place (only 1 Div)

Well done all, especially our debutants who ran brilliantly. 👣

Next up is Hyndburn on 8th December and yes we have a number for every member!

 

 

 

Warrington Way Ultra Relays by James Pentland

My first ever trail run I entered with trepidation not knowing what to expect. I purchased my first pair of trail shoes at a massive £24.99! I might add the best £24.99 I have ever spent and in true harrier colours.

On the morning of the run I woke up late and in a blind panic. I Jumped in and out of the car every two minutes forgetting my watch, forgetting a flask and forgetting I hadn’t eaten. I settled for the best of McDonald’s bacon roll hash brown and a coffee.

After meeting up with Kelly Withers at CP2 we drove to CP1 to meet with other runners and tag our partners and continue the race. After a short, cold wait I was greeted by Katie Green. I was handed my number and I ran with Jayne Barlow-Salloum who was running strong as part of her duo run. After a gruelling 11 miles across a beautiful countryside the end was in sight. As I arrived at the finish line of CP2 I was greeted with cheers from all the fellow runners and harriers alike.

Questions were being asked who am I handing my numbers to, to continue leg 3 of the run. I was hungry and thirsty, phone calls were being made to seek the runner. It appeared the runner may have got dates wrong, however the race had to continue. I hadn’t fuelled, dressed or trained for anything more than 13 miles especially a trail run. I grabbed a cup of tea and a piece of granola biscuit and refilled my water bottle and offered my services to do leg 3.

All my team mates were very grateful and spurred me on. I continued the run along unknown paths and started speaking to other runners asking to run with them and swapped running stories and experiences. Around mile 14 or 15 I started to flag and felt blisters developing on my toes (damn these new shoes) I was cheered on by umpa lumpas and continued through the niggles of blisters.

As I ran towards the canal I saw a post office, I walked towards the door (yes walked) and thought I need food, I picked up the biggest bag of harribo sweets I could see and a bottle of lucozade sports, I hadn’t brought any money, “oh no” then prompted by the shop keeper, “have you got Apple Pay on your phone” my saviour!! I continued my run and started to slowdown. I was caught up by two runners who asked how I was doing and started to tell me their stories. They were winging there first attempt of an ultra. We became the three amigos, we had loads in common including running the first Wigan Half Marathon, all three of us finished London within 4 minutes of each other this year and then we all ran first Kirkby 10 miler.

As we approached the finish of leg 3 I was contacted by Ian Stewart asking where I was, he was with all the best intentions of meeting me at mile 25 to take over but I was almost complete so he had to rush to CP3 to meet me. As I approached I was never so happy to see another man before, but on the flip side the three amigos had become 2 as I was no longer running with them.

I sat waiting for Denise Riley to finish her leg so I could get back to face HQ, receiving calls from family and Kelly making sure I was ok. I saw Denise arriving then it hit home I’d finished and in my eyes saved the day in more than one way after giving first aid at CP3 until rescue services arrived to a fellow runner that literally ceased up on the spot he rested. We left the tent and headed towards HQ to a satisfactory welcome from all other runners and all the harriers that had completed their runs.

I know I’m not at Harriers that often anymore due to other commitments but I am proud to say that they are my second family. The support we offer each other is second to none.

Did I mention the “massive” budget priced trail shoes I bought. They will most definitely be used again.

Maybe I might join Marsha on the full 40 miles next year?

James Pentland.

⚫️🔴⚫️🏃🏻‍♂️🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♂️🏃🏻‍♀️

The Haribo had a startling affect on James!

Can you wing a marathon?

Berlin Marathon by Katie Green

It’s safe to say that me and marathons don’t have the best of relationships. I have just completed my third one and for all three of them I had every intention of getting the training in and doing myself and the club proud, yet for all three something has gone tits up in the run up and messed up the training! This time round was a combination of trying to get the time to do the long runs and having the god awful luck of waking up the day after a physio session and sports massage to find the nerve in my knee was trapped making it nearly impossible to walk as I couldn’t bear weight on my leg. It’s hard enough trying to work full-time time and train as most of us know but when you add in two kids and a husband who works nights its takes stupid amounts of planning to try to get training in for either of us. One day I’ll actually get to a marathon start line and feel confident because the training is there and I know I’ll get round because it’s beyond frustrating when you feel like you keep failing at something that you should be capable of doing better.

I can easily say that out of the three marathons I’ve dragged my ass round so far Berlin has been the best one. The expo was the most random one we’ve been too and they definitely have the strictest protocols on place to make sure there’s no cheating or number swapping. To get into the athletes are you have to present a QR code marathon pass that you get emailed along with a valid form of id, you then have a wristband heat sealed onto you, so there’s no way you’re getting it off without scissors, and then you’re allowed to go get your race number where you need to show another guy your race pass and id. It’s a bit off a ball ache but it does work and keeps things fair! If you go around the city on the Saturday you can watch the first day of the marathon which is a bit nuts and its people doing it on roller blades, these are serious athletes in speed suits with thighs that could kill you, they make it look effortless but I think I’d die on wheels about 5 miles in. It was when we came across the finish village watching this that it all hit home to me what I was attempting to do the day after and I came very close to breaking down, who doesn’t love crying in front of a couple of thousand Germans and tourists :/

Chris is the only reason I made it round this marathon, one because he’s a stubborn muppet who was adamant he was getting me round and two because he gave up his fast race to get me over the finish because he saw how much I was freaking out before we’d even got to race day morning and I can’t thank him enough for that. The night before race day was methodical checking of kit and race belts and obsessively checking the weather reports to see if the temperature was due to cool down any and to keep things fun of course it didn’t. He did his best to calm me down but a broken night’s sleep led to a stupidly early start to the day on Sunday as there was no way I was getting back to sleep. Races away from home can always be tricky, especially when in another country, as you can struggle to do your normal race morning routine but having an apartment made it a lot easier than London or Amsterdam as we had bought stuff in for breakfast so I would be able to eat properly. I am an odd runner as I can’t go out unless I’ve eaten properly, cereal, toast, fruit and a nature valley bar before the race meant I was feeling pretty good for a change. We set off from the apartment towards the race start which was only a mile walk away finding plenty of other runners along the way, I think we got 5 minutes away from the apartment before the first person stopped Chris to ask for a picture ha ha, this continued on through the whole of the race!

This is definitely one of the best starts to a race I have experienced! Who doesn’t love a warm up to some euro trance with a few thousand excited people, they get you really excited and in a good mood to race (even if it’s already 10am and getting warmer by the minute with no clouds in site). We set off at a pretty steady pace though it was a bit cramped for the first 3 miles with lots of weaving around those at a slower pace. Our first experience of the water station points was a little bit of a shock too. They are big on reducing waste so they promote the use of reusable cups or your own bottles but the station was just carnage with plastic cups everywhere and trying not to get elbowed out the way or go flying on a discarded cup! Chris was taking control of the pace as I’d already said I trusted him to get me round so I didn’t have to focus too much on what my watch was saying and I could just feel the pace and decide if it was comfortable or if I needed to slow down a bit. The support during the course was pretty consistent and really gave a boost, there were people cheering everywhere, bands dotted about the course and of course kids ready and waiting to give high 5’s (Chris was definitely targeted by the kids more than the other runners), one of the best atmospheres I’ve experienced at a race so far except for maybe iron-man.

We were pretty steady on pace up till mile 14 even including a pee break, though my hamstrings on my right leg had been tight since the start of the race and they just weren’t letting up. About mile 15 the tightness had managed to creep up into my glute and spread round to my quad and the pace started to drop. Chris was trying his best to coach me through the pain but stopping to stretch off just wasn’t making a dent in it so I ended up taking advantage of the on course massage though it would only help for about 3 miles. After that everything just fell apart for me really, I was hot, queasy and dizzy and my muscles were screaming at me. Being stupid and stop starting meant that they were seizing up and making the pain even worse. I felt so crap and knew that my actions were causing Chris’s legs to start seizing up too which was just making me feel worse. I had tried to make sure I had kept well hydrated and I took my salt sticks with me as these are amazing at keeping away muscle cramp but if you don’t do decent training for a marathon it will all fall apart at some point. I’d had to walk as I felt that bad even with Chris jogging backwards to wind me up and distract me I just couldn’t bring myself to get back into a stride. I stopped again at another massage point hoping to get some life back in my legs.

I spent the last 10k of the race desperately trying to run/shuffle/ hobble anything that wasn’t walking and it took everything I had to keep going but I still felt like I had failed as I caved in yet again and had to walk. We were so close to getting me a pb but I just let myself down in the end, I came so close to crying out of frustration and exhaustion but managed to sort of hold it together thanks to Chris just hugging me and keeping his arm around me while walking. There are points during a race where you usually see a loved one or family and those happy tears just force their way out, you can’t stop it it’s like sheer relief at seeing them and you usually look like a complete tit but its going to happen and in those last two miles it happened for me. Walking hand in hand with my husband who had tried his best to get me round a marathon I was petrified of, him trying his best to cheer me up and convince me I hadn’t failed or let him down after he gave up his chance at a good time to help me and I just couldn’t help it. Its points like this, especially if you’re a couple who both run and don’t usually run together because one of you is a bit crap and the others a speedy bugger, that you realise how much they really do love and support you. As we rounded the last corner and could see Brandenburg Gate I decided I had to have that one last push as I had never walked over a finish line yet and I wasn’t starting then, it was slow and hurt like hell but it was just so nice coming up to the finish line with Chris holding my hand making sure we finished together. I’m looking forward to seeing the race pictures when they finally come through as it will either look really sweet and romantic or really stupid with us holding hands during a marathon, no matter what though I finished the damn thing.

I can safely say I still feel like I let myself down massively with this race but my mentality is getting better, I had originally set out with the intention of not having a pb as my main goal ( it would be awesome if it happened but not the most important thing). The main thing I wanted was to get through a marathon and not have my knee give out on me or for it to go tits up. Well, it did go a bit tits up as I just fall apart in the heat and my poor training led to my muscles rebelling against me but at least my knee held up!! The physio exercises are definitely helping and I have one more marathon left to go next year at Manchester and god help me I will get round it, and train properly even if I have to give the sandbaggers permission to bully the crap out of me into going out for the long runs!

 

Laura’s first Ultra…

My First 50 mile Ultra Marathon

GB Ultras Pennine Barrier 50 mile Ultra Trail Marathon

15 hours 9 minutes

About 2 years ago I met this bloke at my running club who was training for a 200 mile ultra marathon from Southport to Hornsea. As I ran with him I asked a couple of questions about how that worked…….when do you eat?…..when do you sleep?………what if you get lost?…… Anyway I ran for a while listening to him go on and on about ultra running, as I left that evening on my car ride home I couldn’t help but think ‘crazy idiot, who runs that kind of distance, I’ll never run further than a half marathon’. A year later and a half later I ended up engaged to the crazy idiot and embarking on my first 50 mile ultra marathon.

We’d talk all the time about various ultras and I crewed Ian a little bit at his second 200 mile Ultra. Seeing the grit and determination of these runners as they push their body to the extreme to see just how far they could go was a truly inspiring experience. There were absolute machines that completed it in 47 hours……….are they even human? To the back of the pack that wanted to see just how much their body could take……..I will never ever forget Julie Valentine’s sprint finish…….sprint finish! At the end of 200 miles!! And 100 hours!!!! SPRINT FINISH! To the DNF’s of people that had given their all but could no longer continue, which was heartbreaking to see just how devastated they were………the fact they’d actually done 140 odd miles is just astounding anyway.
It really got me thinking, if these people can do 200 miles I could surely give a 50 mile a go. I decided since I love the mountains and hiking I’d rather do a nice picturesque ultra with the odd ‘hill’ and before I knew it Ian had signed me up for Pennine Barrier – that was a surprise email, let me tell you! Now bear in mind this was 7 months before the race and I’d not yet run a marathon. So that was first on the agenda, you need to have completed a marathon to compete in a GB Ultras event…….. So training began for Manchester marathon in April. With Manchester completed next was to focus on Pennine Barrier.

I joined on the recce run the week after Manchester – this was planned to be 13 miles (ish) on the Saturday and 26 miles (ish) on the Sunday. My thought process was that if I could do this weekends recce the week after completing my first marathon, then I’d feel like I could at least attempt Pennine Barrier.
The recce was fantastic – led by Emma Marks and Matt Rushbrook – 2 of the GB Ultras ambassadors, they were there to offer help and support along the way – not just about the route but also about kit and other bits of training that would help with the actual race.
I should also mention it was made super special because on the first day of the recce Ian proposed to me at the top of Malham Cove, which now gave the race a really extra special feel.

As race day approached I was rather surprised that the feelings I was getting were that of excitement rather than actual nerves. I was quite happy for that though!

We travelled to Malham on the Friday night to register for the race and it was at this point the nerves kicked in, pretty much as soon as I saw the gantry in the showfield. At this point I was really glad I’d volunteered at previous events and made friends with quite a few of the GB ultras family, as they assured me all would be fine and I’d smash it and Ian would look after me. We collected our numbers – Ian got his usual number 15 (yes he’s a regular) and I was issued 115, a very nice touch from the RD’s.

I had a surprisingly good sleep the night before the race and after registration a bit of the excitement came back. Race morning prep went without a hitch (I even made the brews in the hotel!) and we were at the start line ready to go. Chatting to others at the start and it became clear I wasn’t the only one taking on my first ultra today – glad to see I’m not alone for picking an extremely hilly course for my first one!
Before I knew it we were off, the first part of the course will forever be my favourite for reasons I mentioned above, and off up Malham Cove we went!

We kept a nice steady pace and it was great to see the runners leading the pack on the out and back section at mile 3 – so glad this was at the start and not the end. And say hi to friends on the course.

Malham tarn was lovely and quiet and just like a Harry Potter set. Then came the first climb up fountains fell, as we slowed a little we were over taken by a couple of runners……but never mind this was a (ultra) marathon not a sprint. And the slower pace at this point really help the steady pace maintained towards the end of the race. The run down the other side of fountain fell was just what I needed, it relaxed me into the race a bit……and I could see the first checkpoint. I’d managed the first 11 miles!

Now I’d been looking forward to the first checkpoint after Nicola Bruce had advertised all over Facebook that her famous spanakopita would be there. Imagine my disappointment to find it had all been eaten!! Only kidding Nic, there was plenty of other goodies to keep me going.

A mile after checkpoint one we finally arrived at the base of our first peak pen-y-Ghent. A nice easy one to break us in. We were soon up and over. It was on the way down from pen-y-gent that I started to notice just how many people were doing the three peaks that day, the majority of them completely oblivious that anyone else was on the trail.

I wasn’t looking forward to the next bit, the trail from pen-y-gent to ribble head viaduct, I’d done it on the recce and thought it a little bit dull compared to the mountains, it went by quite quickly however and we soon approached the second checkpoint.

A quick bit to eat and water top up and we were on our way again. Whernside was next and is by far my least favourite of the climbs, it just goes on, and on, and on. By now there were hundreds of people on their own 3 peaks challenge and the biggest challenge I found was getting past people, we got stuck behind one family and before I knew it there were about 50 walkers also stuck behind them. After what felt like an eternity we finally made it to the top! The descent went a lot quicker and I picked up my pace knowing we were nearing a proper toilet and an ice cream shop! We had about a fifteen minute break at the shop but I didn’t want to sit down for fear of not getting back up again. We were just over half way with our last climb looming in the distance – Ingleborough.

We had a quick stop at checkpoint three then headed to our final (ish) climb. Most people I speak to really hate the Ingleborough climb but for me it’s my favourite. It was my third time up this peak but the first time I’d actually have a view at the top so I was quite excited. There’s a long staircase to climb before getting to the base of the actual climb, and once we’d past this bit it was nice to see Race Director Wayne there checking on how everyone was doing and to take some pics of course!

On to my favourite bit – the scramble up Ingleborough. It’s a steep fast climb and you make it to the top way quicker than Whernside. Unfortunately the descent isn’t so fast and it feels like an eternity before you get to the signpost that tells you it’s still 2 miles to Horton-in-ribblesdale and our next checkpoint. Well I’m pretty certain whoever calculated that distance was completely wrong! The 2 miles were never ending and I was starting to get hungry (and hangry) and needed the toilet, I really hated these 2 miles. As we headed into Horton-in-ribblesdale I nearly missed the check point as I was so focused on getting to the toilet, thank goodness for the lovely lady who yelled me back. At this checkpoint I had a real good moan about how long the last 2 miles had been and how much my legs were starting to hurt. We took the opportunity here to roll our legs out a bit with the roller Ian had brought along, and I moaned some more. Those poor volunteers just had to listen to me moan, and they were so lovely about it.

We headed off again and stopped at the toilet just up the road. I don’t really know what happened in there but I came out fully refreshed and ready to tackle the last 15 miles. Jelly beans in hand onward we went. Back up, yes up, pen-y-gent………..well half way up to go back down the other side to checkpoint 5, the last one! The climb is really steep, steeper than I remembered but it wasn’t too bad knowing the checkpoint was just on the other side. Checkpoint 5 reached and I’ve never been so happy to see fresh oranges, I ate lots. Then back on our way for one final climb back up fountains fell.

The whole way round this race all I’d done is comment about how I couldn’t believe people were going to do the 100 mile race, they would get to the end of the 50 miles, turn round and go and do it all again. I am in absolute awe of anyone who attempted this, let alone finished……… This leads me onto a conversation we had on the way up fountains fell. There were four of us in a little group and I asked the question – if you got to the end and someone said they’d give you a million pounds to carry on and do the 100 would you do it? There were some very strong words spoken and a definite no was the answer for 3 of us, after thinking about it Ian decided he would do it again………..as I’ve already mentioned he is a crazy idiot.

We made it up fountains fell and with relief were happy it was all down hill from here on! With about 8 miles to go to the finish we saw the first 100 mile competitor coming towards us……..they’d finished the 50 and were 8 miles back into the 100! And we’d still not finished 50!!! In all I think about ten people passed us on the way back out, seeing them have the energy and determination really spurred me on to the finish. About a mile and half from the finish we saw Shelton who had attempted the 100 but decided to turn back and he ran the last part of the race with us. No offence to Ian, I love him to bits but it was nice to have some different company for a bit. We passed Janet’s foss and had a quick photo, it’s just so beautiful, then onto the finish only a mile away. In the last couple of miles we’d overtaken a few runners, but some were starting to catch us back up again, I was determined they were not going to overtake us.

As we came out of the wooded area you could see the finish, I was slightly ahead of Ian and Shelton and all of a sudden I realised I was actually going to do it, I was going to complete 50 miles. Well that was it, I started to have an emotional moment and this continued for the last half a mile to the finish. I was so proud of myself, and not at any point did I want to push Ian off a mountain, though I think at times he probably thought about pushing me off one. It was the best feeling ever to finish and to see friends at the finish line too was amazing. We finished in 15 hours and 9 minutes, collected our medals and tee shirts then headed to the marquee for tea and soup……….possibly the best soup I’ve ever tasted.

 

Pennine barrier was definitely a challenge for my first ultra marathon but it’s a beautiful route and superbly organised by GB Ultras, I got to run it with my favourite person in the world and share the experience with friends along the way. It’s safe to say I’ll be back to do it again next year without a doubt………………. Did I mention – I’m an Ultra Runner Now!!!

 

 

 

Northern nutters!

Northern Athletics Cross Country Championships over the years have delivered some very trying days out. Slushy icy snow, heavy mud, hail stones have been just a few of the interesting conditions “Mother Nature” has thrown at us!

Did this cause our four Harriers any delay in signing up? Hell no! They were on it “like a tramp on a kipper”!

The setting was in the parkland grounds of Harewood House just north of Leeds. A quick google on the morning of the race confirmed the venue as being rather posh with a very large open parkland estate.

After a decent journey the four Harriers managed a rendezvous in the car park. No mean feat as a thousand cars, trees and plenty of grass don’t lend themselves to be very good indicators of where you are! It was also useful that although we were in the middle of nowhere there was actually a mobile signal!

We then attempted to work out what the course was like. This proved to be a tough ask as the course for the men was two laps of 6k each, rather long for a warm up. We contented ourselves with just getting a flavour of it and figuring out the start and finish areas.

In essence the course was rough open grassland with a few swampy areas. As usual the more heavily trafficked areas had cut up a little. It twisted and turned over a vast area of the estate managing to take in plenty of climbs. It certainly seemed like it was going to be breezy in the exposed areas (the whole course!!)

We watched the start of the ladies race. The photos don’t do justice to either the spectacle of hundreds of ladies charging across a field or the toughness of an UPHILL start!

After not really enough time for a decent warm up it was game on for the Senior Men’s Race 12k, 2 laps. 😁

Newcomer to the fold was Rick Rose-Coulthard. Rather impressively wasting no time in getting involved and representing the club at Cross Country. Rick was joined by three Cross Country stalwarts…Mark Morgan-Hillam, Kevin Edwards and Mike Harris. It promised to be an interesting battle, Kev and Mike certainly felt like they were lacking a surname in the fight!

Mike nearly missed the start after undergoing an emergency last minute dash to the portaloos! At least a few fast strides were managed as warm up getting back to the start line!

The men do the full course which is the outer perimeter of these pretty coloured loops.

Rick shot off at the start and took an immediate lead among the Harriers. The  course was fantastic but tough going in places. There was some mud, spongy grass, breezy exposed areas and hard climbs. It was however constantly changing in character which kept things interesting. Rick maintained a decent lead throughout the first lap, hundreds of runners means it’s often hard to see your clubmates out on the course. Lap two really closed things up. Mark was creeping up on Mike with Mike in turn closing in on Rick. With a couple of miles to go it was really hard to call how the Harriers order would pan out. Meanwhile Kevin was having a fantastic run picking his way through the field.

With about a mile to go Mike got in front of Rick and by the time of the switchback hill climb it was easy for the three Harriers to see each other! Mike  was desperate to avoid any “sprint finish shenanigans” against younger legs ran hard downhill. Mark ” Week long taper” Hillam-Morgan finished strongly to bag third spot with Kevin nowhere near where he feared he might be – “The back” Those dozens of Haigh parkruns meant Kev was strong for those cheeky climbs!

Out of 761 finishers our guys were…

336rd Mike Harris 52:08

345th Rick Rose-Coulthard 52:25

362nd Mark Morgan-Hillam 52:44

660th Kevin Edwards 1:03:58

As you can tell from the after race photo we were well pleased with ourselves. A tough 12k but satisfying nevertheless. The event was a trial run for holding the National Cross Country Championships in 2019. It was definitely a thumbs up from Wigan Harriers and we should definitely make sure we enter teams next year! A great day out was then rounded off with the Harriers party night! Happy days! 🍺🍷🎟🎉