Race day #6 of 2016 done and this one was a cracking little event! 2 laps of Reddish Vale Country Park with over 250 other runners on a Wednesday night. What more could you want? You could be forgiven for thinking this one would be a flat race, but there was a couple tasty inclines to burn the leg muscles nicely! The cobbled path was a personal favourite (God awful climb) …
Just off the M60 in Stockport, this is a fairly easy race for anyone in the Greater Manchester area to access. So no excuses for next year!
It was a really good turnout, as you can see in my picture. As a small local race, the entrance fee was very reasonable at £7.40 (including booking fee) for club registered runners. Not to be grumbled at when you compare some of the highly advertised events that can cost several times that amount. Enough about the reasonable pricing…on with the race!
Starting at 7.30pm is great. I love racing in the middle of the work week. It breaks the week up nicely, and I would be running that night anyway so it is great to compete after a day at work.
The race starts from an old car park in Reddish Vale Country Park, not far from the park entrance close to Tesco, Stockport (Green dot on the map below). From here you head South-West and begin your 2 lap journey. The first few hundred yards are fairly narrow for the group of runners to run through all at once, but as I have found in similar races, this is not always a bad thing. It helped me start the race at a steady pace rather than flying off too quickly, too soon.
Once the first few hundred yards are out of your way, as with any race, the runners begin to part naturally and space is not an issue at all from here on in. For me, this was time to start overtaking a few people nice and early. Overtaking is great for morale, but I can sometimes try and bite off more than I can chew a little too early on race day. Especially on a course like this where it is 2 loops, I need to sometimes learn to get to grips with the course on lap 1, then really smash through lap 2 once I know exactly what I have in store. Having said that, over 5 miles, once I am over half way I can overcome almost anything knowing that there is less in front of me than there is behind me.
I do fell running at the moment, so in comparison to those courses, this was as flat as a pancake, but it isn’t completely flat for a trail run. There are a couple of uphill battles, but one particular leg killer is roughly around the 1.5 miles mark (based on the gradient chart below) and repeated again on lap 2. An uphill cobbled path which off memory is roughly 100 metres in length. Again, I might be overexaggerating that distance due to the burning sensations in my thighs on lap 2’s climb. If you run this course yourself, you will know when you are climbing this bastard of a path! No pain no gain! haha
After the second round of climbing the cobbled path, you then have one last small incline just around the corner, then there is some nice downhill action. This is where I got in my groove. I had a particular 3 or 4 runners in my vision throughout the race who I had overtaken earlier in the race with some eager early running in the first quarter of the race, but they had hit back early on the second lap by getting back in front of me. For those of you who compete, you know exactly how I felt when I got overtaken on the second lap…
‘Bugger! Let them stay in front, Pete. However, do not let them out of your sight! No matter what!’
These were my thoughts when they flew passed, looking fresher than me, or looking fresher than I felt, anyway. But I am a determined, persistent little sod when I compete. Even when I may look like I need a kick up the arse, I always have a gear in me for the last section of the race. Always.
So I plodded on. In fact, I dug deep and found a level of extra pain that I knew I could maintain for a while. I had to. There was no way that I was finishing behind these particular runners. Not without a fight! Winning is about giving it all you have got, and I was ready for a last-ditch attempt at climbing a few extra places on the finishers board.
The last downhill section kicked in. I let my momentum fly through this section. Running like a kid without a care in the world. Going at speeds that needed real concentration to make sure that I didn’t fly arse over head. The pack I had kept in my sight was getting closer and closer…turning what was the best part of an 80-100 yard gap to a third of that in what seemed like no time at all. The last corner left me with a stretch of roughly 250-300 yards of flat surface to give it my last push, and half way through this I pounded the pavement at the side of the group I had tracked for the last couple of miles, overtaking 4 or 5 of them in one quick movement.
I can see the finishing line in the distance….
‘Pump those legs like your life depends on it, Pete! Pain is temporary. Forget your legs! They will get through this last push. Do not let a single person overtake you on this last stretch!’
This were my thoughts at the very end. Motivating myself for one final push.
Boom! Over the finish line! With a time of 34 minutes and 6 seconds, finishing in 24th place out of 255 runners. Did I get overtaken on that last bit of stretch? Not a chance! I dug deep, gave it everything I had and more, finishing with a smile on my face whilst trying more than ever to breath enough to stop me from collapsing.
There aren’t many things I love in this world more than a really good sprint finish, especially with a few other runners in such close proximity. It’s the best feeling I will have all week.
Thank you to everyone who organised or helped out at the race. You’re all legends. Also, huge thanks to all the other runners. You all help push, motivate and inspire me each time I run. You champions!