Dentdale Run – Dave Collins

Kev Edwards has been quietly championing this race for years. However, I must confess that I had no real desire to run a 14 mile race (why not make it a half?), let alone in a place I ashamedly hadn’t heard of. Waddy and Jacqui are also great supporters of the event, though Jacqui’s tale of a flooded course, serious hills and near hypothermia hadn’t really sold it to me either. With the remaining weeks to Manchester marathon ticking down (no, we haven’t entered yet), I was scouting about for a suitable half marathon when I had the brilliant idea to enter the Dentdale run. Well actually, Jayne didn’t use the word “brilliant” but I’ve convinced her that tough build up races are the secret to a good marathon.

After previous weeks’ pre-race dramas of the strained back (Standish) and dodgy stomach (Haweswater), I wondered what Jayne was going to come up with this time. As usual, she didn’t disappoint, and on this occasion even got in an early strike. A few days before the race, she tripped over the hoover (Dyson, but sill a hoover to me), head-butted the record player (yes, it plays vinyls) to break her fall, and then pulled it over on herself. This while juggling with a hair drier and straighteners! The resulting cut and bruised eye, swollen toe and sore wrist didn’t stop her from running though and so Dent was on.

So for those of you who don’t know where it is, it is slightly to the south east of Sedbergh – junction 37 of the M6 and turn right. The weather had turned cold on the Friday before the race and the news had mentioned snow on the Pennines. Here we go again I thought, as we drove up to the Lakes on the Saturday morning. Thankfully by now it was dry though and the wind was nowhere near as strong as at Haweswater, but it was certainly cold. The race start time was a highly civilised 1 o’clock, allowing the previous night’s wine to get through the system, and giving plenty of scope for the now obligatory coffee stop. Heading beyond Sedbergh, there was a worrying layer of snow on the surrounding peaks, and the road started to undulate even more. I had no sooner commented that I hoped not to see any “Caution Runners” signs, than we passed a warning of 1 in 7 gradient, and one appeared! At this point Jayne decided that she didn’t like “these kind of hills”.

Dent Village

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There was a lot of traffic for such a quiet road and it became obvious that most of it involved runners heading for the race; including a coach with about 50 Royton Road runners. Kev was certainly right in praising this race. It had a very similar feel to the Haweswater half, with the local community turning out in force to support and help with its running. The local council had waived parking fees for the day (although Waddy and Jacqui paid), while one of the camping sites had provided additional parking and toilet and shower facilities. The entry fee was another bargain £13, and I was more than impressed when they actually didn’t ask for the extra £2 for entering on the day. Also included was a ticket for a post-race hot drink and refreshments. This is what un-commercialised club racing is all about!

I’d been disconcerted in the previous week to discover that the race was actually longer than its name suggested, at 14miles, 331.5yards! I hadn’t managed to find an elevation profile though, but close to registration there was a big screen with a slideshow, and we managed to glance up at just the wrong moment and catch a glimpse of what appeared to be a rather hilly contour. We had a bit of a mooch about, checked the finish line, looked at the local pubs, had a good chat with a few runners who we knew and eventually braved a warm-up. I managed to restrict Jayne to 2 miles, and this was enough for us to realise that we would have a cold easterly head wind for about miles 4 to 10; which from mile 6 had also looked like a climb on the elevation.

The course loop

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The course starts in the village centre and heads north west, back towards Sedbergh. After about 3½ miles, it turns and heads back, along the road that we had driven in on. You are then given a tantalising glimpse of the village before being sent out for another loop to the east of Dent. So at just before 1, we gathered on the start line outside the village school, and were sent on our way.

View from the start

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Being a downhill start everyone is taken up in the moment and aspirational paces are the norm. We knew that Waddy and Jacqui were coming to watch, but hadn’t managed to see them. It turned out that they were in a queue of cars behind a tractor which were all being made to wait for the runners to pass. At that turn in the road, we were greeted by the first of many hills, and the wheels immediately fell off some of the aspirants. I’d had a great tussle with Richard Jones of Garstang at the Haweswater half, and so was pleased when he appeared next to me at the start of the race. It was déjà-vu as we spent the first outward part of the course keeping each other honest – is he Mike Harris in disguise? At the turn of the first loop, I put a bit more effort in and seemed to gain some distance on Richard and a few other runners – though I didn’t look back to check.

This part of the course sends you back towards Dent, and despite running into the wind, I was feeling good and settled into a nice pace. Then to my astonishment (because he’s usually way in front of me), I realised that the next runner in my sights was Peter Cruse of Lytham. Without consciously increasing pace, I gradually came up on his shoulder, and not wanting to be seen to be drafting, pulled alongside and had a chat. He worryingly told me that for some reason he tends to get stronger in the second half of these races, so I thought I’d just stay with him for as long as I could. There was a drinks station at about the 6 mile mark, and I was surprised that Peter took a cup. Before I knew it, I was ahead of him with Dent in sight.

A couple more runners were reeled in and then I could see the crowds at the half way stage. Jacqui had threatened to bring a chair to sit in as part of her recuperation, so I was surprised to see her standing there. Just along was Waddy with his camera at the ready, and an encouraging “Come on Dave”. He immediately undid the good work by shouting “Well done Crusey”. Apparently, this was to warn me that he was back on my tail! True to his promise Peter passed me shortly after, but I managed to hold the distance between us until about 13 miles; in some places pulling back to within a few yards.

From Dent to the turn was largely uphill, and although the wind wasn’t strong, it was bitter. I noticed that my legs had turned a nice shade of red, and Jayne said that she never got warm along this stretch. The turn took you over a bridge and a little dig of a hill. What better place to site the race photographer!

Jayne looking very determined!

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The last few miles are a classic roller coaster. I hadn’t read the script, and thought that there was a single big climb at some point. I can’t say that I was disappointed that one never materialised, but the continual ups and downs took their toll on your legs, and eventually at about mile 13 my right hamstring spasmed and I thought it was the end. At a similar distance, Jayne got a sharp burning pain in her left calf and also feared the worst. For me, it was a case of avoiding striding out, so any thoughts of trying to catch Crusey were conveniently dropped, and the focus shifted to not being caught from behind.

Classic: Waddy the photographer cheered on Peter Cruse! Nice one Coach!

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The 14 mile mark came, with a wry smile, and then we were into Dent village itself. The quaint cobbled streets were not exactly the best surface to finish on, and the last little climb was unappreciated, but the finish line was in sight and with no-one to catch or to be caught by, I could avoid any temptation to sprint. I’d not really had any pre-race targets because the race was such an unknown to me. I managed 1.34.31 (about 6.39 pace) which Peter Cruse assured me was a good time – he was 18 seconds ahead. This put me in 40th place overall, and 7th vet 50 – who was saying that they might podium in this category?! Jayne had another excellent run, defying her claim that she can’t run these types of course. She was 57th overall, 4th lady and 1st in the vet 45-54 category, in a time of 1.38.29. Altogether, 447 runners finished, the winner being Simon Deakin of Leeds City in 1.18.34, and the leading lady Joasia Zakrzewski of Dumries RC in 1.29.17.

Waddy and Jacqui were at the finish with stories about being stuck behind tractors and missing the race finish due to being caught up in a coffee shop – the tough life of the spectator. We chilled (cold, not relaxed!) surprisingly quickly and so limped back to the car to get changed. The school hall provided welcome refreshments, organised with military precision by the local WI. It was great to see so many runners stay behind for the presentations., but I’m sure the free refreshments played their part. Jayne recovered our entry fee with a prize for 4th lady, and then somewhat unusually also received a vets prize. I couldn’t believe it as she explained that she had already received one prize, and was relieved when the organisers insisted that she take it. Relief was temporary though because it turned out to be a pair of running socks, not my size, and another glass trophy for me to dust.

As with Haweswater, get this race on your 2016 calendar. In my opinion, great spring marathon training – but I’ll reassess that claim, depending how we go at Manchester.

 

Editor’s note: Dave is going to have withdrawal symptoms from writing race reports so I guess we will need to get him to write up the relays. Beware anyone who smiles or waves at the camera, you’ll be slaughtered in the write up!

 

 

Or maybe not?

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Lancaster Mid Lancs XC finale

The final stop for the Mid Lancs Cross Country season was Lancaster. With a lengthy drive an effort was made to car share which contributed to a great race atmosphere. Everyone collected we set off from a very sunny and mild Wigan and after crawling through traffic in Lancaster arrived at a chilly and wind swept Ryelands Park.

We parked up and were greeted with a friendly phone call, “Where’s the tent we’re bloomin’ freezing here!” or words to that affect. Never one to upset Mr Collins we raced over and battled the gusty winds to erect our rather tired looking tent. Continue reading

Parbold Duathlon – Mike & Kelly-Anne take to two wheels!

I’ve wanted to try a triathlon for some time but lack of opportunities to develop my swimming has kept these ambitions on the back burner. I saw this event last year but was too slow to enter so I jumped in with a flash when it was released. I wasn’t alone, a large number of work colleagues and fellow Harriers took the plunge too. Over time injuries and the temptation of other events whittled this number right down, leaving myself, a couple of work colleagues and Kelly-Anne. The pressure was ramped up by my boss suggesting he would be faster on the bike leg, nothing like a challenge. My cycling is very much a secondary activity to running so I wimageas trying not to treat this event too seriously but regardless of this when they released the cross country fixtures it meanimaget I was destined for a busy weekend!

When you arrive it’s more daunting than the usual foot race, lots of kit to stow and some expensive machines being racked. The most stress normally suffered is pinning your number on the club vest. Bike secured in the transition area it was time for a quick warm up. The weather forecast was correct….the weather was poop! Constant rain, most lovely!

The run leg is two laps (5k) of our Harrock Hill Race warm up but in reverse, so familiar territory. I ran cautiously not sure how much the Cross Country exploits would have affected me and how much I needed to save for the next two legs. My first transition was a disaster. Discovering that skin tight cycle gloves won’t slide onto wet hands. Mark Rogers was a spectator to the rising panic that set in when I realised I would be cycling with bare hands. I run most of the year in gloves as they turn to ice real quick. The bike leg is 18 miles consisting of three laps. Up Parbold Hill and down Hunters Hill, enjoyed the former, hated the latter! Changing gear and keeping hold with a frozen hand was particularly problematic on the muddy and wet Hunters Hill. It was with some relief to survive with both hands and be back on terra firma for the final run. Jelly legs you hear about them but they are very interesting, I left transition worried about falling over and trying desperately to make up some of the places I had forfeited with my dodgy bike leg. I managed to overtake two and have a little sprint finish for 47th place in 1.50:24. Immediate thoughts never again, thoughts now – it’s maybe but when it’s warm and dry!

Over to the real star of the show….. Kelly-Anne Towns

My weekend race was Parbold Duathlon, a late entry courtesy of Darren Jackson (I still owe him the entry fee!). The course was a 5k run, 30k bike, 5k run, which delivered on it’s promise of undulations, what can you expect from a race centred around Parbold Hill? The weather was grim – cold and wet; the competition looked strong; and there were hardly any women. I was convinced I’d come last! The nerves did their usual disappearing trick once we got going on the first run at 8.30am. The gentle climb to the first turn was soon complete, and the two lap 5k on quiet country lanes seemed to be over quickly. The 3 lap bike course was tough, climbing Parbold Hill each time; a prospect I did not relish but which was tame in comparison to the descent down Hunter’s Hill in that weather!! Luckily I’d done a quick reccy of the course (in the car) a few days earlier so was aware of the muddy patches making that section quite treacherous and exercised extreme caution. After just over an hour on the bike, more than enough time to end up soaked to the skin, I emptied my trainers of water and squelched off onto the final run. The massive mountain (same run route but it definitely wasn’t there the first time) to the first turn took some climbing on really heavy bike legs but after that I settled into a pace just quick enough to hold off the girl behind me. Although when her family shouted encouragement to her on the final bend and I realised how close she was I had to muster up a sprint finish from somewhere – no way was she beating me at that late stage! I managed to keep my place by five seconds, and it turned out to be a prize-winning third place!! A bit better than my pre-race expectations! Overall a great event, if a little daunting at first because of all the professional looking cyclists. And the fact that you are packed into the Farmer’s Arms car park like sardines means you have to go in the pub afterwards. You just have to.

Haweswater Half Marathon – Dave Collins

First of all, let me say that this is an absolutely fantastic race. If you haven’t done it before then make sure you give it a try next year. It is everything that I like about a race. Locally organised by a friendly running club (Eden Runners), there are none of the commercial aspects that typify the mass participation events. Race entry is only £15, parking is free and well-organised, and you get a commemorative mug full of steaming hot tea plus a piece of locally produced flapjack at the finish! Race HQ is the local (Bampton) village hall and there are comfortable changing facilities available should you need them. I was particularly impressed to see a desk set aside for the transfer of race numbers, with a sign asking that you don’t run in someone else’s number. If a small running club can sort this out, why can’t the bigger events get to grips with it? I think we all know the answer to that one!

Bampton Village where the race starts & finishes.

Bampton Village where the race starts & finishes.

The only thing that they can’t guarantee is decent weather, but a race in the lake district in early March is always going to struggle with that. We left in plenty time on race day and called off for a coffee at Shap services. Jayne had ducked out of last week’s Standish trail race, and as the sleet battered the cafe windows she indicated that her “dodgy stomach” (no more details) might keep her out of this one too. I was slightly encouraging, as this would mean I could keep my coat on until the last minute and pass it to her at the start. The remainder of the drive was “interesting” as rain and sleet fought with the occasional sunny interval, always accompanied by the promised strong winds – not from Jayne.

 
We parked up, walked to HQ, walked back to the car, walked to HQ, changed, did a warm-up which doubled as a toilet stop, back to HQ, back to car, portaloo, … I think you get the picture of typical pre-race preparations. On our last call at HQ, we got down to vests and shorts, although I really did seriously consider putting on a base layer. Just as we were about to leave the changing hall to jog to the start, there were a few groans and we could see through the window that it was lashing it down with sleet and hail. Strangely, weather like this bonds everyone together and there was lots of banter as we set off for the start. This part of the event reminded me of the Snowdonia marathon, there being plenty of supporters mingling with the runners, many with dogs and children. I’ve been caught once before (Wrexham!!!!!) thinking I’ve been at the front of the start when I was actually at the back, so we took great care in getting the direction right, then dallied about to make sure we were reasonably close to the front. The race starter’s brief included a warning that there had been a landslide close to the turning point and so we should take care when negotiating it!
The website offers the following description of the race: “The Haweswater Half follows an out and back course from Bampton Village and passes along the shores of Haweswater in a remote and dramatic mountain valley. The hilly course offers an exhilarating run in unique surroundings.” The out and back section isn’t quite a half marathon and so you do a loop around the village to start. I’ve not done many out and back races and wasn’t at all sure how I’d take to it, particularly in view of words such as remote, dramatic and hilly. Did I really want a preview on the way out of what I would have to contend with on tired legs?

Route and "undulating" profile

Route and “undulating” profile

The race starts with a climb for about the first 5k. It then bobbles about before descending to the turning point; the car park at the end of the reservoir road. The views are certainly stunning, and the downhill sections allow you some recovery during which you can take it all in. My pre-race target had been sub 1.28 but I was only just managing a 1.30 pace on the outward section. My head went a bit and I broke one of my golden rules and started chatting to the bloke I was running with. Truth is I was missing Burgess, who’d gone off to run a flat course at Coventry.

Dave and Burgess sub!

Dave and Burgess sub!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rain had stopped but there were torrents of water in places across the road and there was no option but to get wet feet. The landslide had taken out half of the road, but the field was spread out at this stage and so it didn’t present a problem. At the bottom of the hill, we ran round a car and prepared ourselves for the return journey.

Turning point of the race

Turning point of the race

The second half of the race proved to be surprisingly easy. We had actually been running into the wind for the outward section so we now benefitted from a strong tailwind. I think the Snowdonia training must have still been in our legs because we both stepped up the pace on the return, despite starting off with yet another steady climb. One really good feature of an out and back is that you get to see runners coming in the other direction. I was anxiously looking for Jayne, in case she had had to pull out, and was relieved when she appeared. If the truth be known, I was also secretly comforted that she hadn’t managed to sneak up to my shoulder as she had at Snowdonia.

 

Climb every mountain...

It took your mind off the climb trying to identify the many club vests coming the other way. However, the last runner eventually passed and it was a case of getting on with the race. Having done the extra mile loop at the start, the turning point was well past half-way and this was a real boost coming back. The climbs and descents kept the interest going, and before long the village hall and finish funnel came into view. I’d had a good battle with Richard Jones of Garstang, with him pulling away on the downhilsl and me catching him back on the climbs. Unfortunately, the run in to the finish is relatively flat and he pulled away from me, not to be caught, on that section.

 
There was great support at the finish, and having crossed the line, a mug and flapjack were thrust into your hand – no medal Graham M. The queue for tea was relatively short, and I’d only had a few sips when Jayne sprinted through, just failing to catch the chap in front of her. We don’t do cool downs these days, so headed into the warmth of the changing hall and did what runners do best – sat around talking all things running. Utopia!
The results were up pretty sharpish – I ended up looking after the results man’s dog as he put them on the wall! A total of 503 runners completed the course, the race winner being James Buis of Border Harriers in 1.12.51, while first lady was Heide Dent of Howgill Harriers in 1.26.51 (38th overall). I must have clawed back a lot of time on the return, as I got under my pre-race target of 1.28 with 1.27.34, for 46th place. Jayne had another strong run on a difficult course, despite her pre-race traumas, finishing in a time of 1.31.42; 76th overall, 4th lady and 1st Vet 50.

 
The best decision we made was to stay over in Shap. So after one last walk to the car, we headed off for the excellent King’s Arms pub. Half an hour later we were sat down with a pint, a glass of wine and crisps. Jayne didn’t even complain about watching the rugby on the tele.

 
We’ve got a taste for these slightly more testing races – you can hide a bad time by taking off an appropriately exaggerated slice to get a flat course equivalent. Injury permitting, next up is the Dentdale Run (14 miles) on March 14th, if anyone fancies it.

Standish Hall Trail Race

2.30 pm Saturday 21st February

If you fancy a fix of racing this coming weekend then there are a few Wigan Harriers planning to enter the very local Standish Hall Trail Race. More recently the race has often clashed with Cross Country fixtures but this weekend spikes can be swapped for trail shoes.

The race is headquartered at the Britannia Hotel Almond Brook Standish, which is where registration takes place. The race itself starts and finishes 5 minutes walk away just off Arbour Lane.

The course is approximately 10k with two loops of Elnup Woods to savour. Underfoot it’s a mixture of firm farm tracks, muddy woodland and muddy field paths but don’t worry there is plenty of firmer stuff to aid your speed. It’s not mountainous but there is about 130 metres of climb, enough to get you blowing a little harder.

Cost is £7 but the organiser’s website was a little out of date so don’t blame me if it’s changed!

A good local race and recommended, just make sure if you enter you run extra fast – Wigan Harriers!!

http://northernrunningguide.com/race/standish-hall-trail-race-february

http://ukresults.net/forms/150221standish.pdf

Wigan Harriers Round-Up August 2012

Its been a busy month for Wigan Harriers Endurance as the local race series reach their climax, and our runners put their Summer Training to the test over a variety of distances.

At the start of the month Chris Smullen recorded his fastest time in the Chorley 4.4m race series racking up an impressive 27:53 for 23rd place. This was perhaps a sign of things to come for Chris as he was back in action again on the 11th when he achieved a PB of 39:03 over 10k at the Pennington “Run the Flash”. Those intervals session at Haigh Hall are clearly paying off and he can be very pleased with his podium position in 3rd place.

Next up was Kevin Edwards who rounded off an excellent showing in this years Horwich Jubilee Series with a 9th place in 35:07. Kevin was the only Harrier to score in all 4 races and this particular  run helped to secure him 9th place in the Series and 7th Vet. Our congratulations to Kevin for a well fought campaign.

Harriers were represented by Michael Harries and Jayne Taylor for the final race in the Harrock Hill series on the 22nd August. Michael brought the red stripes home in 30th place with a solid 40:54.

Jane Taylor did the club proud as 2nd lady, and 1st L50 in 40th place in 41.49.

Jayne finished as 3rd lady, (1st L50) in the series which is particularly impressive as she only ran in 3 out of a possible 4 races. She was also the highest place Harrier ahead of Andy Eccles in 40th place who will have special memories of Harrock this year.

Wigan Harriers Round Up

Its been a busy couple of weeks all round for Wigan Harriers Endurance Group as the Tuesday and Thursday night training groups grow ever larger, and the Wednesday night race series get into full swing.

We have been delighted to see so many new faces training with us over the past few weeks despite the best that the British summer has served up! The atmosphere on a Thursday night can be fairly said to be “buzzing” as runners of all levels mix it up around the JJB. With so many people now taking part in the sessions we have a great spread of speeds and abilities so that no-one is left out, be they brand new runners or outright speed merchants.

On the racing front we saw a great turn out at Haigh Hall last week, (11th July 2012), as 7 runners represented the lub at this local 4 miler. Tim Pilkington picked up his first legitimate Vet 40 victory as he came 7th overall in 23:15. Unlike his slightly premature prize in the Grasmere Gallop, Tim will be allowed to keep the win as this time he is now genuinely over 40! Andy Kaufman was hot on his heels in 8th place with a finish time of 23:41

Dave Collins was 3rd Vet 50 in 24:23 and 17th place overall, holding off “The Reaper” Darren Middleton who was feeling the after effects of a full turn on the day shift with his 25:22 in 24th place. Harriers were also delighted to see the continuing return to form of Jayne Tayor as first lady Vet 50 in 27:20. Martin Andrews was one place behind her in 28:01. Big congratulations also go to Gary Wane making his debut both in a Harriers vest and as a club runner as he smashed out a 28:10 in his maiden appearance over the distance. Yet another PB for Gary.

Haigh Hall 4 July 2012 Results

Kev taking it easy again

A week later and Harriers were back in action at Horwich Jubilee Road Race where Tim Pilkington again grabbed glory in the Vet 40 category whilst on his way to 5th place overall. Tims race ended with a bit of drama as a late challenge from James Hilton ended with a nasty tumble within sight of the line. Kevin Edwards patented reverse taper method appears to have cost him a few seconds over his previous outing over this course as he finished in 35:41 and 18th place overall. This is a vast improvement over the 60th place he was originally credited with in error. Arguably the hardest training runner at Harriers is threatening to “take it easy” ahead of the next race in the series but we’ll beleive that when it happens Kev!

Once again we celebrated a debut run from a another new Harriers runner in the form of Mike Worsley. Mike defied his own pessimitic predictions and a persistent shin splints issue to record a very creditable 50th place in 41:30. Welcome aboard and well done Mike.Horwich Jubilee Series Race 3 Results

With races at Harrock Hill and Chorley to come over the next few weeks expect to see a few more quality performances from Wigan Harriers comin gup.