Sunday saw my first race of the year and more importantly the first opportunity to don my club vest in 2017.
After a somewhat lazy 2016 I’ve promised myself that I’m going to do much more running in 2017. I’ll never set the world on fire with times or distance but I do want to improve. I have some time and distance aims, but I also have a desire to appear less often on the last page of the results!
The race was the Hill Runner UK Mast 10k. An out and back run with three solid miles of uphill running to the TV transmitter at Winter Hill Bolton then a glorious three mile downhill return.
With a one thousand metre climb (starting with the seemingly endless slog up Smithills Dean Road) it was a tough race to start the year. It was however a race that gave me immense pride having avoided all club training runs up to the Mast as ‘it’s too hard!’
An icy mist had settled over Bolton during the night and we couldn’t actually see the Mast from the start point (although that was perhaps a good thing!). As the route transitioned from the main road to the tarmac and gravel side road and trails I experienced just how cold it was, with patches of ice making for some hazardous sections. By luck or maybe judgement I didn’t come a cropper, but some of my fellow club runners did manage some spills. We saw bloodied knees, face and elbow (all on one runner!) and a broken rib and finger.
The faster runners skipped up and down like mountain goats with the winner taking just over 36 minutes to my one hour 22! The fact that I hadn’t even run two miles when he passed me on his downward leg blew my mind! Some of the route was on narrow paths and wooden bridges and I’d been quite concerned about possible comings together but on the day everyone was really courteous and because it was an out and back we got to see all our running friends and teammates throughout the race giving support, high fives and even a hug off a fellow parkrun run director!
The turning point was a welcome relief and was manned by the fabulous Bolton Mountain Rescue who benefitted on the day from a £250 donation from the organisers and sponsors. Many of the marshals on the course were from my own running club (Burnden Road Runners) and it was great to get personalised shoutouts from them along the route. I could have hugged Carolyn at the road crossing when she shouted ‘runner coming through’ and there was no one around but me!
The dreaded Smithills Dean Road isn’t so dreaded when you’re on your way down but it’s also a memory wiper, with my mantra changing from ‘never again’ on the up to ‘next time’ on the way down!
All in all, a well organised race from Phil and Melissa from Hill Runner U.K.
A big challenge for me personally and one that has taken away the fear of the route when it’s offered on the training schedule. But what about the results? It was close, very close, but I have the evidence, I wasn’t a last page lady!