My Leigh 10k Experience

My Leigh 10k Experience by Diane Hill

Sunday 13th August, 6:30 am Alarm Call can only mean one thing – Race Day. For me it wasn’t just any Race Day, it was my first as a Wigan Harrier, my first 10k since Wigan 10k 2014; it was a big day for me.

I don’t normally take on food before running, but I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to run my best time. So, wholemeal bread toasted with Peanut Butter (organic Meridian) with a Banana would be a good choice.

7:30am soon came around and it was time to hit the road, dressed ready to go – Harriers Vest proudly worn, my husband took control of the driving and off we set. Arriving in Leigh at just after 8am, the venue was in full swing setting up and the registration tent was open. I nervously went over to collect my race pack, number 215 took pride of place on my vest, timing chip placed around my ankle, off I set in search of fellow Harriers and a friendly face to try and calm my nerves.

First faces spotted – Sam, Tony, Lynne & Stephen, all offering wise words on how best to manage the race. I had it set in my head that I needed to achieve less than 1 Hour. Telling myself that 59:59 would make me happy. I’ve done 3 10k’s, times getting worse, first 1 Hour 4, second 1 Hour 8 and final one 1 Hour 12, so to set myself under 1 Hour was a big ask.

9:10 am – Lynne suggested we start making our way over to the start and do a brief warm up. Off we went, Tony encouraging us to do a brief run to warm up the legs – I’m glad we did, sound advice. In the back ground could hear Luke Marsden (ex Big Brother contestant) doing his bit on Stage for Wish FM to rally the troops up to the start. I had decided to set myself amongst the 55 Min marker to give me a chance (sound advice from Sam).

9:30 am – Count Down begins and boom off we go. Three laps of Leigh, 10k, 6.2 Miles and we’re off. The first lap was a short lap, no hills – traffic management was obviously going to be an issue as some motorist already complaining to the marshals with 541 runners coming at them. It also became apparent that the sun beaming down was getting warmer. The support around the course was great, the leighers giving their encouragement. Lap 1 completed, it was then onto the longer 2nd lap. At this stage the 5k marker couldn’t come soon enough – water was definitely needed. The sun was getting warmer and my mouth was really beginning to dry out. Water station in sight, bottle was grabbed and water taken on. Just further up, I could hear familiar voices, Jayne and Dave cheering on, this spurred me on – just what I needed to give me the boost to get me moving again, I asked Jayne if the 55 min marker was still behind me in case I missed him passing me, he was which gave me hope that under an hour was still possible. Shortly after, the crowd at the start came into sight for the 2nd time and it was on to the final lap. Within seconds of passing, I heard Luke’s voice announcing the first runner was about to cross the finish line….. My stomach dropped, first runner back and I’m just starting the 3rd lap and my hope disappeared as the 55 minute marker passes me. At this stage I felt I had gone out to quick in the first few miles. My in-experience was starting to show. Positive thoughts needed to get me through the last few miles. I just thought, get to the water station, take on some water and nail the last part of the race. Water station in sight, unfortunately no water, not what I wanted to see. Anyway – just a little further up, the support from Jayne and Dave gave me the much needed boost yet again and I had the knowledge knowing the finish line was in sight. A quick glimpse of my watch gave me hope that my sub 60 minute 10k was still in reach, I then remembered something Jayne said at one of the Tuesday night Haigh sessions – it’s not your body that says you can’t do this, it’s your head. So I gave myself a good talking too and knuckled down. Eventually the finish line came into the view, the crowd clapping and cheering. Adrenalin kicked in and my stride instantly picked up – I heard a member of the crowd shout go on girl, good strong finish – this spurred me on and boom – finish line, crossed, watch stopped!

First Harrier I saw was Sam and he asked how I did, I looked at the time when I crossed the finish line and hoped for 57-58 minutes. All the other Harriers where very supportive and asked how I felt it had gone. I was feeling great, extremely warm, a litre of much needed water was consumed. Then, a proud moment – a group picture.

I couldn’t wait to get home and connected my watch to see what Strava had recorded. I was completely floored with the 56:10 it flashed before my eyes. I thought can’t be right, I doubted myself. Official Chip time appeared – 56:11.

All the months of training, encouragement from Jayne and all the other Harriers have paid off. Now to improve – Wigan 10k next and looking to go for 55 Minutes (or under).

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Lakeland 50…. a few big hills.

With just a month’s recovery from Mont Blanc, we headed to Coniston for the 10th Anniversary of the Lakeland 50 / 100. It was the 3rd time I’d been here but the 1st time as a competitor, so this time I was more nervous than ever. We had brought my mum (Ann) and her husband (Nigel) along as our support crew and also to provide us with a lift from Coniston to the start at Dalemain.

We arrived in Coniston mid afternoon on the Friday and checked into the Black Bull pub. We headed straight for registration which involved kit check, tagging and a body weight check. I was glad that others looked as apprehensive as me and there was lots of moaning and grumbling about the weather. Warren kept telling me not to listen as the weather was perfect, if the rain held off and it stayed overcast it was far better than racing in the blazing sun. He’s not wrong, the sun was so hot at Mont Blanc by mid day and I certainly didn’t fancy those conditions for almost a double marathon distance. We kept up with tradition having a meal on the Friday night at the Steam Bistro which is a must for anyone staying in Coniston, but you do have to book and remember to take your own ale. Then it was back to the Black Bull for a night cap, a double Bushmills Whiskey each (again a tradition) before getting an early night.

Race morning brought an 8:30am to 9am briefing and Marc was on top form as usual expelling any nerves that all us competitors may have had. It was then a quick breakfast before Ann and Nigel transported us to the start at the Dalemain Estate, which is the 50 mile point of the Lakeland 100. With about 15 minutes to go everyone begins to move into the start pen, dibbing in as they enter. We did our usual manoeuvre to the front and with a brief countdown we were off. As it’s actually just 46 miles from the start to the finish line the 50 mile race has to start with a 4 mile loop of the Estate, which at this point was in the rain. We had put our waterproof jackets on just before the start and before we had finished the loop, the jackets off and back in our packs. From that point on we never needed to get them out again as the weather stayed overcast which made perfect running conditions throughout.

There was some pretty quick runnable miles at the start, with a few inclines but nothing major before the first checkpoint at Howtown Bobbin Mill. Just as we approached the first checkpoint Warren felt the need to point out our first climb. I don’t think my face looked too impressed which resulted in a quick reassuring response. I was not ready to kill him just yet!

The climb up Fusedale was relentless and over a mile in long. Once at the top Warren exclaimed “you did it’” he also informed me that none of the climbs to come would be that bad. Yes climbs to come, because Warren has always made sure I’m prepared for a race and that I never underestimate what I’m about to take on. He had the experience and the knowledge and so I was well aware that there is a climb out of everyone of the 6 checkpoints of the Lakeland 50. At the top of Fusedale is High Cop which was a very boggy run along the top. Given the fact that it had been raining for near enough the last 48 hours, most of the Lakeland 50 course was wet and boggy under foot.

From High Cop the course descends through some high bracken down to Haweswater Reservoir and even on an overcast day you can feel the temperature rising. The high bracken made the descent difficult as we couldn’t see the ground in front of us and this is were I took my first tumble. 16 miles in and I fall head first and manage to roll over off the track in a somersault manner and disappear into the bracken. Warren had to come and rescue me and pull me back onto my feet. To be fair for any of you that have read my previous off road race blogs, 16 miles before I fall is a bloody good achievement, as I can fall in a 5 mile fell race. I had a few more stumbles along the way to Mardalehead but nothing that caused me to hit the deck again. However just before checkpoint 2 it was Warren’s turn, going up to his waist in a bog that I had somehow managed to avoid. He ended up with mud all over his head and a cut to is finger, that I never heard the last of for next 30 miles, so you can guess how many times it was brought up.

Out of checkpoint 2 at Mardalehead is a further climb up Gatescarth Pass and then a decent at which point we were 22 miles in. Here I had my first and thankfully for Warren my last head wobble and it was a big one. I know that I was whinging a lot at this point and I thought that I was going a lot slower than I actually was. I felt that I was letting Warren down, I knew he had said before that we could do this race in 12 and 1/2 hours but I wasn’t feeling that this was possible. I was not going to give up but just didn’t think the goal was achievable. Warren gave me a BIG HUG and told me that we were smashing it and doing brilliantly and just needed to keep going, so I took a few seconds, composed myself and we had another jog. Then there was another climb just before the Kentemere checkpoint which Warren had apparently forgotten about. I can assure everyone it’s not something I will ever forget about.

Checkpoint 3 at Kentmere was time for the port-a-loo and time to take off and empty my right shoe of a stone that had been irritating me for miles. Drinks bottles filled again and yet more cheese sandwiches as we were now on our way to Ambleside. On the way we spoke to another competitor and he said “this is a nasty little climb,” ahh yes check point equals climb and I think I muttered something under my breathe along the lines of “when is there not a bloody climb.” Eventually we got to checkpoint 4 at Ambleside. From here I knew the way, having recced this part of the course for the last 3 years and yes I’m a lunatic, I’ve recced the course when I wasn’t even doing the event. No, but seriously though, I love the route from Ambleside to Coniston and I think anyone who wants to do a long trail run should give it a go. It’s not easy but the scenery along the way is marvellous. Once I had got to Ambleside I said to Warren, “now I know I can finish this race.”

We headed out of Ambleside upwards, obviously and then back down to Skelwith Bridge, along to Elterwater and onto Chapel Stile checkpoint. Once at checkpoint 5 it was time for yes you may have guessed it already, more cheese sandwiches and cola. From Chapel Stile the route is runnable along a track and across 3 fields before a steep nasty little climb up to the top of Side Pike Pass. Then it’s a lovely run across the road and down past Blea Tarn. Here it becomes more technical, as we navigated our way past Blea Moor by keeping the high ground and bypassing the bogs. At this point I found myself leading a group of about 6 runners who weren’t all that sure but I was determined to get across to the unmanned Wrynose dibing point before it went dark.

The decent on the road down Wrynose Pass is quite steep and thigh shattering after the previous 45 miles. Then at the bottom the route goes right and back off road for more climbing during which the head torches needed to come out. As we hit near the top of the climb I was unnerved to look up and see bulls at each side of the path, so much so I almost stopped dead in my tracks but carried on when Warren went past me. The route then goes down to a farm and along the road to the final checkpoint at Tilberthwaite. Yes you’ve guessed it to my sheer delight and thrill, more cheese sandwiches and cola.

On leaving Tilberthwaite there is the smallest but most definitely the steepest climb of the day, were at points you are literally scrambling. however it then becomes runnable along the top until we reached The Tree – the one that comes out of the rocks and at which, Warren and I stop at every time we do a reccy. We have a number of photos at this tree. No time for photos this time, just time to push on up the last steady incline before the final descent into Coniston.

We rounded the corner to see the Black Bull and to my amazement the pub was still open and people were still gathered outside. Even better, Ann and Nigel were hanging out of their window cheering us on over the last few hundred meters. When we had planned this race I had told them that we would be back in the early hours of the morning and that they could go to bed and we would see them at breakfast. I was so elated to know that they had seen me finish. At this point Warren said we needed to put it in as we could run sub 11:45 and spared on by the support of Ann, Nigel and everyone else still out in Coniston I pushed for the finish.

We dibbed in at the finish line at John Ruskin School in 11:43:36 and were instructed that we could get something to eat and drink. I believe my words were “please, no more cheese or cola for as long as I live,” but thankfully they were not on offer. We collected our medals and t-shirts and sat down for some chilli and rice before heading back and collapsing in bed.

This was the hardest and longest day I have ever done in a pair of running shoes. My feet were wet from start to finish and I have never eaten so many sandwiches or consumed so much sugar in one day, but I would not change a single thing. We passed so many 100 runners during this race and every time we gave them a cheer because I take my hat off to them. I now know how hard the 50 race is and the 100 is something I don’t think I could do and after seeing them nor would I want to do it. They say that the back 50 miles of the 100 race is the easiest part and I think I would be happy never experiencing the hard part. I swore never again and asked that Warren not even mention the Lakeland 50, however, this did not last long as it took just 5 days before we booked the Black Bull for next year and I cant wait!

Rock n Roll Star!

If you can’t beat them, join them by Katie Green.

I started out running just over a year ago. After years of cheering on at the sidelines watching Chris get better and more competitive my loving husband signed me up for my first race while I was still pregnant. He decided that running would be good for me and that I’d be good at it for some reason. Last year I did the rock n roll 5k as my first ever race after 5 months of running and it petrified me so imagine the confusion at running it again a year later as well as the half marathon! It’s amazing the difference a year makes when you are surrounded by supportive, competitive idiots.

The rock n roll half marathon in Liverpool really is a brilliant race to run, especially if your still relatively new to the longer, scarier race distances. It’s a really well thought out route as you get a good mix of flats to get time in the bank and ‘fun’ hilly bits to remind you that you should probably do more hill sessions with the running club. I’m still yet to train properly for a half marathon as things seem to always get in the way (kids with chicken pox, car crash, chest infection) so race day morning I’m still filled with terror at the idea of running 13.1 miles and not being able to time running past the portaloos just right so I don’t wet myself or mess up my race time. Chris as usual was right up front with the other speedy harriers and I was quite happy in coral 5 with the other people aiming for the 2 hour mark. Its safe to say you know you are a runner when you feel a wave of relief when its nice and cloudy in May so you know you’re not going to finish a race looking like a crispy lobster.

The start is always the most stressful part for me because I hate the bottleneck effect of everyone trying to get out ahead of all the other people and trying to set their pace. Luckily at RnR they have enough sense to send you out in waves, yes it takes a little longer to get to the start line but it’s so much better being able to start a race and not be elbow to elbow with every other runner and start out at the pace you want to. The first few miles are really lively with people all along the route and minimal uphill routes. The bands lined up at various points really help to give you a bit of a boost too, especially towards the end when your shouting at yourself in your head for signing up to another of these things after you swore never again at the last one. I tend to get myself through longer runs by setting myself little targets. I managed to get up the hill around mile 6 without stopping, which really helped my confidence as I was surrounded by people going sod it just walk up it and after that you get a lovely few miles through the parks which are really nice flat, shady paths. I think I only ended up finding and passing other harriers after the 7 mile mark starting with Rachael giving me encouragement after I checked she was ok. By mile 10 I was arguing with myself about whether I could keep the pace up I was at but after checking my watch and realising I was in with a shot of getting a 1:50 half marathon it was a case of telling my legs to shut up and carry on.

Miles 10-12 were pretty lonely as there wasn’t much support out and I’d pretty much ran the whole thing on my own but it was a case of head down and plod on. As I got past mile 12 that’s when things got weird for me as I started to spot runners I knew that were faster than me! I got encouragement from other club runners as I was kicking up my pace for the last mile putting in a last ditch effort to get as good a time as possible. Its pretty safe to say I was amazed when i finished with a time of 1:47:45 knocking nearly 8 minutes off my previous half marathon pb from Wigan half! I still find it funny I saw more harriers at the finish line than I did for the whole race too, I finished just behind Jayne who gave me a big hug and congratulations when she spotted me as we’d both been aiming for the 1:50 mark, thou she smuggled more haribo off the table at the end than I did. It’s definitely a race I would recommend doing if you wanted to go for a half marathon and not just because they are some of the best medals 🙂

Sign up Now and Join the Harriers!

To those of you who have been training with us and thinking about joining the club, then now is the time.

From July 1st, the membership fee for the remainder of the year (end of 2017) will be reduced to just £26. This includes a £14 fee to register you as an official athlete with England Athletics. As an “attached” athlete, you are then entitled to claim the discount (usually £2), that many races offer.

The remaining £2 a month covers your twice weekly sessions, overseen by qualified coaches.

If it appeals to you, then you can run in two cross country leagues (starting in September) for no extra cost.

 

You would also be eligible to run for the club in the road relays which take place in September.

Don’t be put off by thinking that you aren’t good enough to join a club. All abilities are catered for and welcomed, and your support is vital in taking the club forward.

If you want more information then speak to one of the coaches at the sessions, or just reply to this email.

As I always say, you know that you want to wear that famous red striped black vest.

Please note that the discounted price is only available to new members. If you are a lapsed member who hasn’t trained with us this year due to injury, or other circumstances, then ask to see if you qualify.

Thanks.

Dave.

 

Danger mouse!

My first Cross-Country season with Wigan Harriers by Kevin Rex.

I have been a member of Wigan Harriers for almost 18 months now. I love running and the sense of achievement and satisfaction you get from racing and competing. Being a member of this club, whilst wearing the black and red colours and representing Wigan Harriers, is a great feeling.

So imagine my surprise on one Thursday night after training in late October 2016, when I was informed by Mike Harris, Gary Wane and Mark Morgan-Hillam that, if I wanted, I could come along to and take part in the Mid Lancs Cross Country League and represent Wigan Harriers.

I, like a lot of members of Wigan Harriers, assumed that the cross country league was for, shall I say, the more elite members of the club. However, I was advised that this was not the case, and that all paid members of Wigan Harriers are welcome to come along and compete for the club. As Mike Harris said, “No-one is invited, all club members are entered and can take part. Why pay X amount for a race when you can do it for FREE once a month throughout the cross-country season”.

Needless to say, I was sold and so I decided that Cuerden Valley in Bamber Bridge, Preston, would be my first attempt at doing an XC, as I now call them. The day of the race started early as I had already previously agreed to go along to Haigh Hall Park Run with some of my running buddies to celebrate their 1st birthday. I took the run very slowly as I wanted to save my legs for the XC race that afternoon.

When I got home, I fuelled up on some banana porridge and changed into my Wigan Harriers running kit. Before I set off I was a little unsure on a few details. So I messaged Mark Morgan Hillam who was more than helpful and advised me on what I needed to do and where I needed to go when I got there. I was even involved in a bit of team banter when I, being the newbie, stupidly asked the question that shouldn’t be asked to experienced XC runners. I asked, “Can I were a T-shirt under my vest?” The response was hilarious and this little bit of banter made me feel like I was part of the team and helped to settle some of my pre-race nerves.

When I arrived at the event there was already a race going on. I watched a bit of this whilst trying to find the Wigan Harriers flag and tent in the crowd. When I got there, members from the men’s and ladies teams helped me find my race number. They informed me that I needed to keep this number and use it again for future Mid Lancs XC events. I put my number on and I was ready to race.

Before the race started Mark and the guys took me to one side and showed me the route and explained what conditions and terrain to expect during the race. From where I was stood it looked like a tough and very hilly course. I was informed that I had in fact picked one of the toughest courses in the mid lancs fixtures for my first go at cross country.

With that said the pre-race nerves came back. However they were settled again by the encouraging words and comments from everyone. We then had a little warm up and went to cheer on the ladies team in their race. Then it was time for the team photograph and, yes, I still had my t-shirt on under my vest. What can I say? It was cold out there…

Race time arrived in no time and, before I knew it, I was on the start line waiting to go. There were some last words of motivation from Gary Wane – and then something terrible happened that could only happen to me. Whilst limbering up, I stepped backwards only to hear some guys behind me shout, “Watch out!” I wondered what was going on – I had only gone and trodden on a field mouse… it had the whole of Cuerdon Valley to roam around, but it had to go and choose to stand behind my shoe. I was mortified, and a little embarrassed, but at least it took my mind off the nerves and amused my teammates…

Moments later, the starting gun went and we were off. Immediately I was slipping everywhere as, being the inexperienced and less equipped member of the team, I had no spikes to wear. I got around the first corner and was headed straight towards and through a ditch of thick mud. As I stomped through the muddy ditch I almost lost one of my trainers. I just about managed to keep it on and I was off and running.

After the first lap I felt like I was starting to finding my stride and I began to relax and enjoy it. My favourite part of the course was running through the stream. The ice cold water cooled my feet and made it feel like a proper cross country race for me.

After four hilly laps (one short, one medium and two long,) of what is probably one of the toughest runs I have taken part in, I approached the finish line. I could see and hear the rest of the XC team cheering me on. This made me feel good and I pushed myself all the way across the finish line.

Even though on the day I finished last out of the men’s team they thanked me and congratulated me for my performance. I left the race feeling included and proud of myself for getting through what was a very muddy and tough race.

The positive experience of the day, and the fun I had, made me want to try more XC fixtures. However, before I did, the more experienced members of the team advised me that I really needed to get some spikes. So with that I was off to the sweatshop to buy myself a pair.

My second, and the next race of the season, was a British Athletics Cross Country event at Sefton Park in Liverpool. This was an event where professional athletes took part and competed alongside amateurs. I learnt from some of my fellow Harriers that apparently, in the past, Olympic champion Mo Farah competed in this event. So of course I was going to go along and compete, if only to say I ran on the same field as Mo Farah.

The weather on the day was absolutely freezing. So needless to say it was t-shirt under the vest again for me. However, the more experienced members of the team still went out there in the freezing cold in just their vests.
I was more at home this time around and felt a lot more relaxed. I knew what to do and how things worked. The nerves I felt at Cuerden Valley Park were gone. So I focused on trying to put in a good performance for the team.
Before the race we did a warm up run and watched the some of the ladies race. I was pleased to see that the course was flat and not as muddy as Cuerden Valley. It was boggy in some parts, but overall it was a lot better.

After the warm up we made our way back to the tent for the team photograph. There were a lot more people representing Harriers for the men’s team at this one – 14 to be exact. This made it possible to have an A and B team, meaning more points for the team.

After the photographs we all went to the start line as a team. There were lots of pats on back and encouraging word from fellow team members. This made me more confident and pumped up for this one. I was determined to run as hard and as fast as I could for the team.

The gun fired and off everyone went. A mile or so into the race I felt good and I was even managing to keeping up with one of the more experienced members of the team, Kevin Edwards.

As the race went on it was lovely to see flat surface after flat surface in front of me, not a hill in sight. You could even see some of the faster athletes in the distance. I continued to push on and felt like I was keeping my composure well. That along with support from some of the ladies team spurred me on for the final couple of miles.

Approaching the final stretch I pushed hard and move my little legs as fast as I could over the finish line. I stopped my watch and got my breath back. I felt as though I had run well and gave everything I had for the team. Little did I know that I had actually smashed my PB for this distance on all surfaces by just over three minutes, clocking an official time of 46 minutes and 6 seconds.

To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement. I still to this day do not know where I got that performance from. It still stands to this day as my personal best running performance ever and probably will for some time. If I can put my performance down to anything, I think a mixture of the atmosphere of the day, the flat course, wearing spikes for the first time and the amazing support and encouragement from my fellow Wigan Harriers XC team was the main reasons for my mind blowing results.

After Sefton Park I’m sad to say that I missed the next two races in Towneley Park, Burnley, and Cleveleys School, Rossall, due to family commitments and a race clash with the Parbold Hill race which I had entered before I started taking part in Mid Lancs XC events.

The next race I would compete in would be the final XC fixture of the season at Leigh Sports Village. Rather worryingly, a few weeks prior to this race taking place, I was suffering with tendonitis of the Achilles. However I was determined I was going to make it to the last race of the season and I am happy to say I did.

Although my performance was not as strong as I would have liked, I still enjoyed being back with the XC gang and competing in the black and red once again. The appreciation I received from fellow Harriers for coming and taking part again reminded me of why I now love these events so much.

Lastly, because of the positive experiences and feeling of inclusion I received in my first two XC races, I took it upon myself to return the favour and try and encourage some of my running buddies at Downhill Runners to come along and give an XC a try. I am glad to say one of them did. So Jayne Salloum became the newest member of Wigan Harriers ladies XC team.
She was a great addition, and she really enjoyed it. I know Jayne, and hopefully some other new members, will be there competing next season. Needless to say, so will I…..

English National Cross Country Championships

A year later and the same three Harriers were taking on the Saucony English National Cross Country Championships, Steve Nicholls, Mark Morgan-Hillam and myself Mike Harris. This year they were being held at Wollaton Park Nottingham, ever since it was announced Steve had been saying what a great course it was, so it was hard to resist (well hard to resist if you are mad for a bit of XC!).

The previous month’s Northern XC Champs had dampened my enthusiasm slightly as the course was really tough and not pleasant or enjoyable in anyway. I hoped Steve’s pre-race talk about the course was accurate.

A two hour journey got us to the regal setting of Wollaton Hall. Rolling grassland with a herd of deer complete with an ornamental lake as a back drop. I carefully avoided the muddy patches of the car park after bad experiences of Arley Hall but this was an early indicator that the recent rains might have dampened the course a tad.

Overcoming dodgy mobile signals we eventually found each other and swapped pre-race excuses, nothing like having a team brimming with confidence. 😂

Walking across to the changing room marquee we saw a few younger lads completely covered in mud. Well, we are clever blokes and quickly realised that this was a sign of rather interesting conditions to come. The warm up realised the course to be grassy, undulating with a steep climb in the larger laps but we didn’t see much mud.

The start of the Nationals are always interesting. Last year the ground was firm enough so you could hear and feel the rumble of 1500+ runners storming across a field. This year tussocky grass dampened the enthusiasm of all but the most committed but Steve “my calf feels dodgy” Nicholls decided the best way to ease into the race was to try and get into the lead for the first bend, he nearly succeeded. Mark went off more conservatively (unusually) which meant I could still see him after 100 metres!

Being in amongst 1800 runners means it’s quite tricky to suss where you are on the course, concentration levels need to be sky high as frequently there are fallers you need to dodge. Anyone veering off course could have been followed by a 1000 blokes as we certainly couldn’t see the tapes. A few guys were in trail shoes, which were not coping well with the grassy slopes. After a few minutes we discovered why everyone had looked so muddy. A deep stinky muddy trench, impossible to avoid.💩 Photos afterwards showed people both submerged to their shoulders and face planted in this mud, nice! You will all be pleased to know your Harriers threesome avoided this fate. ☺️

Now the course turned out to be a sort of “inverted russian doll”, every lap got longer but kept all the interesting stuff like the hill and the stinky mud. A decent challenge but certainly very runnable.

Very early in the race an uncomfortable looking Steve came back to me, clearly bothered by his dodgy calf. It wasn’t long after I past Steve that he called it quits and joined the 100’s of spectators.

I was starting to enjoy the race as it became apparent that apart from a few hazards the rest of the course was very good. It was around three miles in that I spotted Steve on the sidelines, he shouted me on and said Mark was just ahead. Now Mark is clearly a much better runner than me so I just assumed he was running to a strategy. Around 3.5 miles I caught him, by this point I was slightly confused just how many laps we were doing. My watch clearly indicating there was a long way to go, plenty of time for GB Sticks to storm past.

Each lap took us past the spectators by the finish line and the noise they created was phenomenal. There was no chance of hearing an individual shout. Thankfully Mark’s family were positioned on the quieter stretch of the hill so provided a welcome morale boost before the lactic burn kicked in. It was clear now a few runners were starting to suffer and it was possible to gradually move through the field. Unlike a normal XC there were a lack of familiar faces to measure your performance against, you just had to try and keep pushing on.

The final lap meant one last big effort. The convoluted nature of the course meant it was far from clear how far you needed to travel to the finish but eventually it came. Not long after Mark crossed the line too to ensure 2/3 Harriers got round safely. 852th place in 53.18 was the reward for my efforts, not often you can be pleased with coming in the top 1000. Mark came 964th in 54.38. To put this into context there were circa 1800 runners and we both ran sub 7 minute miles for nearly 8 miles through plenty of bog. A good effort but the real challenge was still to come….cleaning the mud off. Not sure my toenails will ever be clean again. 😂

Petzl Night Runner by Karen Moorfield

Petzl Night Runner

2nd weekend in January means only one thing…. UFO’s! Well that’s how the race is sold but actually its the Petzl Night Runner Rivington 10K.

Cold start again for the second year in a row but sadly no snow this year. It had been forecast earlier in the week and I had been really excited about running in whiteout conditions but in the end is was not to be, it was very wet underfoot but thankfully the rain held off for the race itself.

7pm start meant us arriving at Rivington School an hour before for a standard mile warm up which turned into two followed by the compulsory briefing under the start gantry. Warren of course ushered me up to the front with my usual protestations of “ I can’t start up here with all these, I will slow them down.” I think Warren’s reply was along the lines of well don’t let them go past you. Following the countdown we were off, a downhill start (for at least 20 meters) and then a relentless energy sapping, leg trashing, uneven underfoot climb of approximately 2 miles. Now I know what your all thinking reading this, that bit has just sold it to you.

Next the flat bit along where the pigeon tower is and I’m sure most of you may well be familiar with how rocky and uneven the path really is and how that makes it just as challenging as the ascents and descents. It’s not flat for long before the route takes you up around the back of the Pike, thankfully not up to the top, that was my mantra at this point “ at least it’s not to the top, at least it’s not to the top.”

It’s a decent descent then back to the road past the Dog Kennel’s before a sharp left onto the footpath which then climbs all the way up to the top road and for those not familiar with the area, that’s the road that leads to the mast. On this climb I was aware that I was 3rd female and this particular stretch is one which Warren has had me spend many a training session doing. Warren’s theory being that this is good Mont Blanc and Lakeland 50 training. It was also fantastic training for this race, as whilst I did not close down on the second female I was happy to pass a number of runners on this section. Usually when training when I hit the road I have a breather for a few seconds and a quick look back at where I have come from but not in the race, no time to stop I had to head up the road before turning back off to the left onto the footpath up to the Two Lads.

This section from the road up to the Two Lads and then back down to the Dog Kennels has seen me fall a good many times on both races and training runs. Last June on a warm, dry, clear, light summers evening during the Henderson’s end race I fell face first scrapping all my shoulder which still had the scar a month later on my wedding day much to my Mum’s annoyance, but at least the dress covered it. In fact that is clearly a life long scar as its visible today. We had done a training run just over a week before during the day when the ground was thick with ice. Now I bet your thinking I slipped, which is logical but when I fall it aways seems to be spectacular. My foot went through the thick ice breaking and as my leg went down into the deep bog the broken ice pitched up and my knee slammed into the edge of it. This time I had to do it in the pitch black with just a head torch for company and it’s really hard to get used to running with a head torch so that you’re not blinded by your own breath bouncing off your beam.

I headed up to the Two Lads and carefully down to the Dog Kennel’s, sorry guys no tumbles on this occasion it passed easily and without incident. Once I hit the Dog Kennel’s I knew it was a straight descent back to the school and I could pick up some time. The two thirds is no technical trail as the terrain is uneven to say the least but you know your nearly home when hit the smooth tarmac for the final downhill just before the finish. It is on this part i was flying in fact the stats show that I managed mile 6 a second faster than Warren (I’m sure he understands that I have to get that point in). I over took the second female on the road descent and as I rounded the corner at the bottom i could then see the first female as I got closer to her she spotted me and accelerated off, I tried my hardest and finished strong but I had nothing left when I crossed the finish line.

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As it’s a chipped race on corrected times I finished 3rd female overall. I’d like to be able to share with you my prize for coming 3rd but it was cold and more importantly I had a homemade lasagne waiting for me at home that I had slaved over earlier in the day and that was now on the top of my agenda.

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I finished in a time of 01:01:16 which was 7 minutes faster than last year. Warren finished in a time of 57:31 which was 2 minutes faster than last year. This is always an epic race from Epic Events and well worth a go to get you out of your comfort zone. As for UFO’s I’m sure they were out there up on Rivington but I couldn’t see as I had my head down focusing on the terrain.

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This is a race for everyone, just check it out, Epic Events even encourage fancy dress so even if you just wants something that is fun but a bit different then this is definitely a race to consider.

Guys 10 Mile Road Race by Mike Harris

I first remember hearing about this race a few years ago when Dave Waddington ran it. Guy’s 10 mile race, who’s Guy I wondered, must be famous to have his own race?

Guy’s Thatched Hamlet is a hotel and restaurant in Bilsborrow north of Preston. Flat terrain leads it to being excellent running territory.

10 miles, a very interesting distance. Do you treat it as a 10k and try to hang on, maybe pushing your performance to the limit or run it as a fast half marathon, training up for the coming marathon season. Which ever way you look at it, I’ve always considered it as a good start to marathon training season. An indicator of where you are at, after an autumn of racing.

2015 was cancelled due to flooding and so my entry was rolled over into 2016. A calf problem had meant I tried to defer but it wasn’t possible so being too tight to waste a race entry, racing was on!

I car shared with fellow Harriers Darren Jackson and Bozhidar (Bobby) Kasabov, both in excellent form so it was shaping up to be a good showing for Wigan. Also racing was Danielle Brearton but unfortunately Danielle didn’t manage to make the photo call.

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The course is out and back with a loop that takes in the outskirts of Inkskip (a good half in January) returning back to Bilsborrow.

It was a very cold day but otherwise pretty good race conditions.

My plan was to run 6.20 miles and see whether I could maintain it. Bobby as expected took the lead for Harriers, running initially with some caution but gradually upping the tempo and getting into a racing battle with a few other men. I was joined for company by Darren for the first 4 miles. The race could be categorised as miles 1 -4 easy, 5 – 7 some effort and 8 – 10 hanging in the best I could. It was obvious I was still be punished for a lazy summer when I got to the last couple of miles.

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Still I stuck it out for a 73 second PB in 64:33 and was joined in the PB club by Bobby in 62:40, Darren with 65:30 and Danielle 74:14. A fine outing for Wigan Harriers yielding a full set of PB’s, an excellent morning’s work.

 

Manchester Half Marathon

A fantastic race report from one of our newer but very active members Caroline Brown.

My Manchester half experience nearly didn’t start at all… as despite thinking we had left in plenty of time (we clearly hadn’t) and having bought our car park ticket in advance, only useful if you are actually there in time… we decided after getting changed’ Houdini style’ in the car, that the only thing for it was to dump the car and run – all 2 miles to the start (a good warm up I admit) with my poorly friend Sandra in tow who was clearly suffering with a bad bout of flu. Arriving just as the gun was sounding and still needing to find a bush for the customary pre run wee, we decided to just join the back of the pack and set off in the lovely northern rain, after all the name of the game for me was to complete challenge 15 after the hectic week I had had, anything else would be a bonus.

After the heat of the Lisbon sun two weeks before, the rain was a welcome relief and reminder that autumn had well and truly arrived whilst I have been busy trotting round the globe for work. The support all the way round the ‘out and back’ route (see I am learning the terminology) was amazing and the lovely flat course helped to keep the jet lag at bay. My mind and body felt good and for the first time in ages I didn’t need to have a word with myself to keep my feet moving, I actually started thinking how lucky I was to have had the chance to run around the Formula 1 track in Abu Dhabi earlier that week and the amazing experiences and people I have met along this crazy, charity challenge journey.

At mile 5 I took my gel, swilled my mouth out with water and spat it out – yes me I SPAT!, once I would have thought it gross… well not anymore:) The advice and words of wisdom from my friends Bobby and Darren were ringing in my ears and keen not to repeat my recent mistakes at GNR and Lisbon I carried out their instructions to the letter. Amazing I hear Bobby say – she actually listened! At mile 8 I had a welcome shout out from some work colleagues and at mile 11, our very own Sarah Edwards and Ian Stewart were there having cycled all the way to Manchester to act as the Harriers cheering squad to encourage us all homewards.

Unable to see the watch due to the rain, I guessed I was somewhere under 1.50 having overtaken the pacer on route but pleasantly surprised to finish in 1.46.12, the fastest I have run since April – even if as Rachel Naylor and I saw from the text on my phone from Stuweb, I had according to them just completed the Erewash Triathlon in that time … which would have been an amazing achievement as I swim like Miss Daisy! Having rescued my poorly friend who had heroically managed to get round and seeing some of my fellow harriers after the finish, (having missed them at the start due to my late arrival!), I pondered on my soggy long walk back to the car that I felt so proud to be part of a club that saw so many people run PBS yesterday and that never fails to support each and every one of us all competing at different levels with individual goals.

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I felt strangely emotional to be part of the Harriers gang – although I would still never call myself a runner…but I can honestly say that without Harriers help especially Jacqui and Jayne, I would never have completed 11 half’s, a marathon and 6 other races so far this year as part of ensuring I complete my 16 in 16 for ABTA Lifeline. So roll on the last epic challenge 16 in the Benidorm half next month with some of the Harriers gang, work colleagues and friends, I can’t promise to race it (I know a cardinal sin ;( but I am likely to get over excited, emotional and talk a lot! – who me I hear you cry!) But… I can promise to truly enjoy it and who knows if Darren and Julie P have anything to do with it, I might have to keep up this running lark and renew my club membership in 2017 – having previously competed for my country in another sport, I knew I would enjoy the training and racing side but who knew that I actually would learn to love running along the way! So it’s off to Madrid on Thursday and yes I have already checked out whether there is a park run – does that mean I’m hooked? #NOWWERUN

Grab yourself 10 free races!

The website has now been updated and has the fixtures for both the Mid Lancs and Red Rose Cross Country Leagues 2016-17 season.

All registered Wigan Harriers have already been entered into these leagues. Please make sure you keep your Mid Lancs number as this is used at every race apart from Sefton Park.

Six ML and four Red Rose fixtures await you!

Cross Country fixture list link

You might have the company of some these fine people!

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