Early 2016 I completed couch to 5k and promptly stopped running being confident that I was not ‘built’ for running and that it was not something I could ever enjoy.
Fast forward to 2017 and I decided to mark my 40th year by ‘ enduring’ the St Michaels 10k race – ie do something I have no natural ability for, in front of people that I am likely to know. Bizarrely as I made this decision a few friends pointed me at the 10 weeks SMM beginners course.
So on 4th January 2017 I put on my big girl pants and crept in to club, heading straight to the back of the crowd with my head down feeling pretty sure the ‘real’ runners would be smirking at this ‘new’ girl who would obviously never be an athlete. I was quickly welcomed and given the appropriate forms to fill in. And then Bill starting speaking – no idea what he said apart from for the beginners would be running 3ish miles!!! (I text my husband at this point and got a laughing response) And we were off, I approached it very slowly, with Ann as back marker being very supportive and kind, and the various runners who mustered back multiple times all smiling and giving encouragement (they could actually run and speak – I was in awe!), I left feeling amazed with what I had achieved.
This was the start of my beginners journey – I turned up each and every Thursday, and quickly got to know most of the other runners who were all positive, encouraging and keen to share knowledge – and very slowly it got a tiny bit less painful. I also went out twice a week alone to do 5km as advised to try and improve – although I had to do this in the dark as I was terrified someone I knew would see me being very purple faced.
After a few weeks I realised 3ish could be very ish, and learned that a ‘long’ run was required if I wanted to get up to 10k – so I started running alone on a Sunday morning – in the daylight!
By the end of February I ran my first 10k distance one Sunday morning – and then, because I had been so inspired by the SMM members I decided that I might as well enter a race – and on 26th March I completed the Cheshire 10k at Arley hall (the flattest one I could find – I’m still scared of hills) – it took me 1 hour 11 minutes and 48 seconds and afterwards I was amazed and delighted that I had done it, I had earned some bling and even more amazingly I wasn’t last, various expletives were however muttered not so quietly during it…
The 10 weeks had flown so I joined SMM as a member, and after various conversations before and after runs (still hadn’t mastered speaking during) I decided that my original challenge wasn’t enough – it wasn’t a challenge anymore, I had already done one race – and so I decided to make it a ‘proper’ challenge and so 10 10ks in a year it had to be, and could I manage to keep up this new hobby for a whole year?
I carried on coming on a Thursday – taking advice, sharing turns in motivating each other, being cajoled by Bill, and making some really nice new mates – I even mastered running and talking. And by the autumn I felt brave enough to join the Tuesday night speed sessions.
And all year I kept entering 10ks… by the end of the year I managed to earn bling at the following:
26th March Cheshire 10k
14th May Delamere forest Race for Life 10k
21st May RAF Shawbury 10k
25th June St Michaels 10k
16th July Chasewater 10k
3rd Sept RAF Cosford Spitfire 10k
24th Sept Stafford 10k
4th Nov Cheshire 10k
11st Nov Tatton 10k
25th Nov Chasewater 10k Pudding run
I started off entering races alone, a bit further from home and being supported by my little family, but as the year went on I got braver, I started wearing my SMM top to races and started to bump into other SMM along the way.
The best 10k for medal alone has to be the Spitfire 10k at RAF Cosford (and I found a few bats at the start line too). I’ve entered again this year and really recommend it – know lots of other Bats are going.
But my favourite 2 races are the last ones, not for the races but for the fact that I’m a member of our lovely club, and I had fun with people that support and challenge you to be your best.
Tatton 10k: Some of the ‘fast’ runners extended an offer go to Tatton 10k with them and make a weekend away out of it, pretty sure I heard a whisper of Prosecco so I was in – and turning the corner to the final stretch to cheers from Ros, Pip and BGW, who had all had to hang around for quite a while for me, was lovely – and I’m pretty sure the fact that these ladies make it look so effortless was what inspired me to dig a bit deeper and get my current PB. Bizarrely our Chair seems to think I survived a weekend with them – but I’m pretty sure it was the other way round ?.
And for my very last 10k in 2017 several of the beginners group booked just to support me, and I was so grateful of the camaraderie at the start and the end – particularly as it snowed and was probably the coldest I have ever been. Not a PB for me but Dave offered great support on the way round and it was awesome to see Matt’s result in the 5k.
I’ve learnt that I do actually like running, and that all the ‘real’ runners want to be better (even the ones that make it look easy!).
However I’ll be honest and I really don’t understand the difference between running and racing – I’m still working on keeping my legs actually moving and breathing at the same time – so I’m happily still a beginner and I will be for some time to come – and that’s absolutely fine. While I’d love to be a racing snake (I’m naturally pretty competitive), I don’t think I’ll ever win a race – but I am beating me each time I get back out there and I’m very proud to belong to our club.
So if anyone wants a challenge 10 10ks is actually achievable for anyone new to running and comes with a pretty awesome sense of achievement at the end.
I’ve already been asked several times what my new challenge is, and the current answer is to do stuff that scares me (2 half marathons, Thunder run and a Hilly 5 mile) – not quite sure that’s enough yet – but it is only January….
The first thing I will say in this report is wow! What a weekend, what an atmosphere, and what was the weather playing at?!?
Before we get to the exciting stuff, here’s a little about me, how I got into running and joined the club.
During my childhood, I was one of the least athletic, active people you could ever meet, always finding any excuse to get out of PE. My idea of a good time was sat inside playing FIFA, watching TV, practically allergic to fresh air and exercise. About 4 years ago I realised the pounds were piling on sat around in an office based job, completely inactive.
That’s when I made the mistake everybody has made, signed up for a gym for a year, went for 6 weeks and gave up. Although a fairly costly mistake, I discovered that I enjoyed running on the treadmill.
At the same time, I was part of a development programme at work, and we had chosen to raise money for the Donna Louise Hospice who were holding their annual 10k run at Trentham Gardens. A bit of peer pressure later, I signed up for the run with 3 weeks to go, only having run 5k on a treadmill before this. 3 weeks training for the first time on roads is not a solid training plan, however it stirred something inside me, and I was very proud of my accomplishment.
Fast forward to March 2017. I had trained quite a lot more in 2017 than any year before, determined to improve my running and get a decent time at Stafford Half. Ran it, got a decent time (by my standards), once I’d finished retching after the finish line headed towards the free massages and bumped into a bat. I know most of you know will Fiona as a bit of a shrinking violet, but I would never have guessed as we had a good chat in the queue. Joining a running club hadn’t really been an option for me, being a bit nervous about whether I’d be considered a bit ignorant on the runs due to my hearing loss. Fiona took my email and gave me a bit of confidence to get myself to the club and give it a go.
If you are reading this, uncertain, nervous, apprehensive about giving it a go and joining a running club. Trust me, go for it, you will surprise yourself! Joining Stone Master Marathoners is one of the best things I have ever done. I have made many friends in just a few short months, and improved my running considerably gaining PB’s in every race I’ve done (until this weekend). There are closer clubs to my home, but SMM is close to my heart.
Now to the Thunder Run 2017
I was a bit of a latecomer to this party. It was an event that was so popular it sold out in minutes. My first thought turned to training, for what I guessed would be 3 or 4 10k laps in the 24 hours. That’s almost marathon distance, which is further than any distance I had done before.
The great thing about SMM is that everywhere you look there is experience and knowledge. There is support everywhere so I felt confident that I would be ready for the distance and terrain that Thunder Run would throw up. I made sure I had a good mix of off-road training in my schedule, and got multiple runs done in a day to prepare.
Nothing could have prepared me fully.
In the weeks leading up to the TR there was a great buzz around the club, with plenty of teasing from the club’s higher echelons over the teams. The weekend finally came round, I got there on Saturday morning to set up camp, thanks to all those who put in the effort getting the camp set up on the Friday. I can’t report on the happenings on Friday night but I was informed we had somebody serenading and winning the hearts of all clubs around.
The atmosphere was brilliant, there were bats as far as the eye could see, and many supportive family and friends. I was especially grateful that my wife and little girl came to support me even if it was only for a few hours. We got together for a club photo, then those kicking off for their teams got to the starting line for 12:00.
If you don’t know how Thunder Run works: it is a continuous 24 hr race, on a set 10k off-road course. The aim is to do as many laps in the 24 hours as a team as you can. Only 1 member of each relay team is allowed on the course at any time. SMM was one of the biggest clubs there in terms of runner numbers. We had 5 teams of 8, an all-girl team of 5, 2 pairs, and 2 solo runners. 51 runners in total, and the famous red of SMM was everywhere to be seen.
I was in the Vampire Bats team, led by Captain Paul Phillips and kicked off on the first leg by Mike Keeling. All teams were there to do their best, and we could see from early on that our A team (Flying Fox) had the ability to be one of the best at the whole event. I’d like to say more about each team that entered as everybody was awesome, but there was so much going on to keep track. Thankfully those of us running didn’t have a lot to think about, all our thinking was done by the brilliant support team. They kept us organised, hydrated and fed so that we could just enjoy ourselves. Thank you to everybody that helped to make this happen.
Due to the organisation of the support team, and their estimates of lap times, as I was 4th in the list to go out my ETA for the first lap was around 3pm. My first lesson, and advice to anybody who wants to take part next year. Try to rest, and don’t pace around in excitement for over 3 hours! I was begging to go down to the pen and wait for my relay. Captain Paul relented and told me to go and wait. Half an hour of pacing on a different patch of grass to before, I saw the fantastic Aggi racing towards the finish line/pen, on snapped the relay band and off I went.
46:47 was my first lap time, a time I was happy with as I came to realise that it was quite a hilly and difficult course, and in context this was a time that would have been a 10k PB before I joined the club! Next up was the determined and speedy Indira! The laps settled my nerves and excitement enough to be able to rest my legs a lot more between the laps. About half way through my lap it started to rain. Take note of what time that was, about 15:25.
Time flew all afternoon, we had a fantastic cheerleading team with lead cheerleader Grahame putting in an endurance performance that the solo runners would have been proud of. As the afternoon wore on, we were hearing more and more stories about the condition of the course. I was due to run around half 8, and rain hadn’t stopped pouring since. I pulled on my bat t-shirt, puffed my chest out, and got to the start line to hand over from another great run from Aggi. This was my first run with a head torch as rules state that any run after 20:20 must be run with one. My lap time was 50:13, again, a time I was satisfied with as once I got going I only had a target of an hour knowing what the course was like.
The legs felt surprisingly fresh after the second lap, and everybody was still in great spirits around the camp, and course, with the cheerleading squad still putting in a sterling performance. I thought this would be my opportunity to freshen up, have a shower and clean off all the mud before my next leg. Since having my little girl, it is very rare to see this party animal up past 9pm, so thought best to get a few hours kip around this time. I let the support team know I needed a wake up call, and that I would be leaving my hearing aids in so that when they shout me I could hear. I honestly do not know how all you normal hearing people get any sleep! The sound of runners going past, and the patter of rain on my tent ruined any hope of getting any sleep. If nothing else I’m determined though, which is why I spent 3 hours staring at the roof of my tent.
My wakeup call came, and up I shot, already eager to get my next lap in. I pulled on my fresh running kit and headed towards the communal tent to a stern faced captain. The conditions were somehow worse than my previous run from an additional 6 hours of rain fall. I had the option, some teams had sensibly delayed their next runner until there was a bit of daylight, and I know that had I said no that nobody would have thought any less of me.
So I said yes, there’s nothing more I’d like than to run in the pitch black, up and down hills in wooded Staffordshire countryside at 3am. Everybody’s time had been affected by the conditions on the course, with everybody expected to arrive in 10-15(at least) longer than normal. It was chilly, so I kept wrapped up in the bat cave resting until my turn. Thinking I had around another 5-10 minutes before I had to head down, there was a shout coming from the track next to our camp…
“AGGI, AGGi, AGGi”
I think Aggi was expecting an “OI, OI, OI”, instead of “was that really Aggi? Oh ****”. For those that weren’t there. The bat cave was set up just a short killer hill and corner away from the finish line. I didn’t expect to have to sprint to the start for my 3rd lap. All credit to Aggi for a great time in the pitch black in those conditions.
This was probably the most dangerous of the laps, as for me the pitch black actually gave a false sense of security, which meant my lap time was quicker than the following one in the morning. In the dark, you can’t see that you are about to leap into a foot deep puddle, or step over one of the many fallen bodies on the course (kidding), you focus more on what’s further ahead in front so you don’t clatter into another competitor, a tree, or a barbed wired fence, all of which I was extremely close to doing. Don’t let this put you off if you plan to do it next year, it was great fun! Despite the many false alarms, I only ended up slipping just the once when I was trying to avoid wading through a very slippy patch next to a barbed wire fence. The option was to run alongside it and pretty much guarantee if you fall to your left you’re going to get caught, or run a little bit up the hill with a greater risk of slipping, but a chance to hang over for dear life before you get to the fence. Getting back up was a challenge in itself, and I’m glad it was too dark for anybody to see me.
A bit of advice for anybody wanting to take part, try to plan your nutrition properly as I had an SIS energy bar before this, and nearly had a visit from the poo fairy. Not sure why I was too concerned though as my backside was already brown.
I completed this lap in 57:23, and to be honest, it was the proudest 10k I’ve ever ran! Handed over to Indira with a truly emphatic and heartfelt good luck.
Fatigue was starting to set in now, but it was around half 3 in the morning, and I didn’t feel there was much point trying to get some more sleep. I headed over to the showers and waited for around half an hour before giving up, the water had ran out, and the tanker changeover was taking a long time to complete. When I headed back to camp, Indira had decided instead of cleaning up and then going back out, to run again after the next team member. It was a good idea as it had started to get light, and meant we could get our 4 laps done, and enjoy the last 4/5 hours cheering everybody on.
After a last minute check-up on the dodgy stomach, with just an hour between my 3rd and 4th lap, off I went. I could tell within 5 steps that it was going to be one of the most difficult runs I had ever done. My legs were tired, I was hungry and the conditions meant that this was no normal 10k, it was going to be rough! The only positive is it has just stopped raining, meaning that 12 hours of non-stop rain had pounded the route.
It was this lap when I fully realised how bad the course was when I could see it, and it made me much more apprehensive about approaching at speed when you can see fellow competitors hanging off trees. It’s very hard to describe what it was like to people that weren’t there, hopefully this picture is a bit of a taster…
If I had to describe, I’d say it was like a muddy ice rink. There were many times that I had to slow down from a jog, and walk around corners, or over sections. It also gave me a bit of rest from jogging as I was really struggling with this last lap. Another note about the course that a few of us had agreed on, was that the first 5k felt like it went on for ages! Once I had got to around 6k, there was light at the end of the tunnel and then I started buzzing about the achievement of doing 4 laps of this course, I could sense the finish.
I was extremely glad to see that Grahame and his cheerleaders had come back out in force after a couple of hours of much needed rest, they helped me get around that last corner and hand over to Indira who was also going out for his second run after only a short break.
1 hour 4 minutes and 15 seconds is my recorded time for this last lap. Which for me (no disrespect to anybody) is slow on a normal 10k run. I still put it up there as one of the most arduous and challenging 10k runs I’ve ever done. In fact, give me Potters ‘Arf over that last 10k any day.
I got cleaned up, and treated myself to a bacon sausage and egg bap (my egg fell out), and a latte from the stalls, then settled in to the bat cave for what promised to be an exciting last 4 hours!
All throughout I had tried to cheer on any solo runners I saw around the course, I have so much respect for these guys that braved this course nearly non-stop for the 24 hours. There were 2 solo runners that represented our fine club, Phil Cape and Paul Glover. Well done to both of you on your amazing achievement, you are an inspiration to all of us.
As we went into the last stretch, although we already had an inkling, we were getting word that we had 2 potential winning teams at this year’s event! The Flying Fox were flying, and kept pounding the course, looking for their win, and Phil Cape, although retired from the course, was leading by most laps.
It was obvious now watching the runners with a nice warm cup of coffee, that although the rain had mainly stopped, the conditions were not getting any better, and that fatigue was getting to a lot. It was also funny to watch the reactions of many runners that they ran through the cheerleading squad. Many loved it, some ignored it! There have been a couple of messages from other clubs saying how much they loved it. The 24 hours were up, but under the rules of the event, anybody on the course within this time, is entitled to finish, so we stayed and cheered the last runners through, each and every one of them amazing.
So, on to the awards. My team finished 28th out of 226, and completed 24 laps between 8 of us, which we were happy about. The main boys and girls in the Flying fox team however, were looking for that podium place! From what I can tell, there was a bit of controversy about a lap not being recorded for Flying Fox, but thankfully it got sorted, which meant that they were crowned Thunder Run team of 8 champions!!!
Well done to captain Ben Gamble, Tim Hulse, Ryan Nokes, Michael Downes, Tom Wilson, Phillippa Steele, Mark Neeld and Craig Pilsbury on your amazing achievement. Also, well done to the beast Phil Cape who won the solo male category, with an unbelievable 17 laps (100 miles)
Well done to everybody that ran and supported this event, we can’t all be on the podium, but we should all be proud of our achievements this weekend. It was honestly one of the best weekends I’ve ever had, and I’m already anticipating 2018. I’m so glad I joined the club, so if there is anybody out there that is in two minds to give it a try, please do.
I’m a broken man today, so it’s been a treat visit to Oatcakes and Milkshakes, then my feet up to write this essay. I may see some of you to put in a recovery performance at Tuesday’s FUN session.
St Michael’s 10k 2017 Race Report by Marianne Stopka
In June 2015, after running for about 4 years, on and off on my own, I entered Stone St Michaels 10k. I had never classed myself as ‘a runner’, I had completed Stafford Half Marathon 3 times and had trained hard each time, my first one after only starting to run 3 months before. I’d also completed a Race for life and a 5k race with friends (both of which were very wet and muddy), but generally wasn’t very consistent with my running. Stone St Michaels 10k was to be my first 10k race. I had no doubt I could run the distance, just hadn’t bothered entering many races. I was a 13 minute miler who walked up the slightest hill, but that didn’t bother me, as I was still enjoying it. After training for Stafford Half Marathon in 2015, I decided I needed to give another race a go, and wasn’t brave enough to enter a different half marathon that I wasn’t familiar with the course. I saw Stone 10k advertised, which was described as a flat course so I thought I’d enter, as it would keep me motivated to carry on.
It was a hot day, and I remember thinking on the first slight incline ‘How the hell am I gonna get through this, I thought it was flat!’ I’d trained by running consistently 4 times a week, but concentrated on distance rather than speed. I got through it, although I’m not gonna deny it was really hard work, somewhere I hadn’t ran before, but I completed it in 1hr 11min s11secs and I was happy with that. When I finished the race someone handed me a flyer with details of a running club on, Stone Master Marathoners, I had never heard of them before. I’d thought about joining a running club but I also thought that I wasn’t good enough and that they would be really expensive to join. I also wanted a change of scenery from running round near where I live and to meet new friends with similar interests. I’d been through a difficult time in my life, running had helped but I really needed more from it now. I kept the leaflet, had a look at the website, along with other running clubs, I eventually plucked up the courage to contact the club secretary and ask if I was good enough, and find out more about the club a few months later. I was shocked to discover that runners of all abilities could run with Stone Master Marathoners and it was a lot cheaper than joining a gym then never using it which I always did. I went along on a Sunday morning, everyone was so welcoming and friendly!
I’ve since made lots of friends, my running has improved , I’ve entered many more races including lots of 10k’s and I’ve grown in confidence. However in 2016 I was unable to run Stone 10k, due to being on holiday at the time, but this year I entered it, and so glad I did cos I got a PB of 58:28 it was no where near as hard as it was 2 years ago either and yes it was flat. I’m so glad I joined SMM.
Relatively new to club running compared with some of my inspirational running veterans, I was completely naive to the racing scene and thought that joining a running club was a bit like going to a fitness club at a gym.
It was only after entering a few local races, then running my first Marathon (London) and transferring to Stone Master Marathoners in July 2016 that I was ‘actively encouraged’ by my fellow BATS to try NSRRA. I also felt inspired after the club Gala Evening when Amy Gamble made a lovely speech addressed to Ken, recognising him for all of his efforts and the time he puts into NSRRA. To be honest I was always nervous of the additional pressure of league tables, as I tend to fall foul of the occasional unplanned pitstop. I’m still nervous of how this could impact on my times and points, but of course, I’ve learnt I’m not alone in that, and I figured life is too short.
In 2015 I ran 10 road races and last year I ran 13 road races 8 of which were NSRRA races anyway so I technically only need to race another 4. I therefore made the decision to drop a couple of the other non NSRRA races I had planned to do and support this great local running initiative instead.
As I had already entered Manchester Marathon this year, the first three NSSRA races of the season didn’t fall into my training plan. However, Knighton 20 was a perfect marathon training run. Although I didn’t ‘race’ it and I had convinced myself I hate laps (who doesn’t? and not forgetting Cheddleton Pudding Run a couple of years ago) I actually really enjoyed Knighton and the new 3 lap course.
So, onto my first official NSRRA ‘race’ – South Cheshire 10K, with Manchester Marathon still in my legs, and 2 weeks of very easy occasional recovery runs, I didn’t really know what to expect or what I was capable of on a 10K. My last 10k was Trentham back in July 2016 (my first race as a Bat), and the four 10K laps I ran on the 24hr Thunder Run. Oh, I hate 10K races too and to top my day off, this was 2 laps but at least this race was flat, I was reliably informed, which also meant it would be fast!
Strange also to return to my student days as I studied at Manchester Metropolitan Uni. The Student Union (Race HQ for the day) was a more civilised area resembling Costa than I remember with a lovely selection of homemade cakes on offer. Last time I was here, I was ordering a Green Monster from the Bar and dancing on a sticky floor to Stone Roses and now I’m queuing for the ladies facilities for the 3rd time before a race. Ironic that this University was and still is a centre for Sports Science and yet the closest thing I ever got to experiencing exercise here was riding my bike to Kwik Save for my ‘No Frills’ loaf of bread and baked beans.
As there was also a 5k fun run, my husband and I wanted to make it a family day and take our two boys. My eldest has started running for Trentham Juniors and he really enjoys the fun runs. Unfortunately, we didn’t read the small print and as he is under 12, he needed an adult to accompany him on the course. I wasn’t too keen on a 5K warm up so my husband had to step in. This wasn’t too big an ask as he can actually run but he had a slight handicap wearing jeans, his chunky walking shoes and the additional challenge of getting our youngest around the 5k course. Quick change into the nice blue Air Products race T shirt and although a little on the tight side (as I had requested the smallest size for myself), he looked the part, well at least his top half! He deserved a medal for pushing our 5 year son in a pushchair that isn’t really designed for running let alone the weight of a 5 year old. In all the last minute organisation, we had missed the 5k start but at least it was chip timed and it is a ‘fun’ run, after all.
Meanwhile I am reminded why I get more stressed taking the kids to races as I now only have a few minutes to get back to race HQ for another loo stop and to find my fellow BATS for a decent warm up and the all important pre race team photo. A quick warm up accompanied by the usual ‘Booooo’ from Mr Pickles (Dave Pickstock TRC) for wearing red (he just won’t let it go). A great turnout from the club again although with many now tapering for London it wasn’t a full colony of Bats flying.
Conditions were good, cool, overcast with a little wind. Quick chat and usual banter with some of the BATS about pace or more accurately who I was going to try to hang on to, as well as whether I should have Indira’s race number (No 2, due to my reputation of pitstops). My running buddy Kathryn Ambrose had already kindly advised me I should be doing at least 7s at my level and my wing girl for the day, Anna Hollingworth (Anna Longlegs) thought we should aim for 6:50s as we could always slow down at the end. True to form, Anna flies off and I’m left watching the Bat on her back. I tend to be a slow burner
and ideally need my 43 year old legs to warm up a bit before tackling what ended up being 6:32 pace in my first mile. I settled into my own pace and actually hung on to
6:50s for the rest. The course was a little ‘industrial’ but it was traffic free and flat. There was a little section where we went off the road and onto a winding public footpath with a couple of footbridges which was a welcome break from the long stretch of pavements. I tried not to focus on the race signs informing you of 7kms when we had only ran 3kms or the points of interest that I was going to have run past for a second and most likely more painful time.
Lots of support and shout outs from the marshals, fellow runners from South Cheshire Harriers and other club runners who were also possibly tapering for London and not forgetting Bryan Dale, really helped to keep me pushing. I wasn’t aware of any other runners in my group around me, so I focussed on 3 ladies I was running behind on the 1st lap and most of the 2nd lap. After taking the first 2 ladies, the 3rd looked over her shoulder and she put her foot down. My lungs and legs said ‘fair play, let her go and save yourself’, my head said, ‘no way, Penelope, use her’ and I somehow managed to sprint past her after the last roundabout, just before the finishing stretch.
I made the usual school girl error of not really familiarising myself with the course or the location of the finish (ignorance is sometimes bliss and I lack navigation skills anyway) so before I know it, I hear the shouts from the supporters and our fun coach John Clemens and I have a decent amount in the tank to sprint the last few metres.
My 10K PB was 45:35 on St Michael’s back in June 2016 (another flat PB course) and I knew with all the training I had done for Manchester I was capable of a PB, so I was over the moon to finish with 41:38. Another bonus was to be presented with a Group Winner’s Mug. My first proper NSRRA race and my first group win. I wasn’t the only BAT to smash a PB and win their NSRRA group or age category.
Congratulations to my fellow Bats
Mick Downes – 37:26 – PB
Paul Swan – 37:41 – 1st M50
Mike Keeling – 40:06 – PB
Anna Hollingsworth – 41:27 – PB
Indira Natarajan – 43:57 – PB and Group F winner
David Dunsmore – 44:05 – PB and Group E Winner
Kevin Uzzell – 44:14 – 1st M65
Ros Bould – 44:35 – 1st F50
Lisa Ashton – 49:15 – Group W winner
Emma Dutton – 50:59 – PB
Bonnie Seabridge – 52:11
Kathryn Ambrose – 53:05 – PB
Michelle Miles – 56:29 – PB and Group X winner
Joyce Edwards – 63:23 – 2nd F65
Thanks to South Cheshire Harriers for a great PB course, to Ken for another well organised race and HQ. I’m looking forward to my next NSRRA race. No doubt there will be more competition on the courses after London!
Welcome to my last race report of the season, at this moment in time I have no plans to run any races before Alsager 5 next February so it looks like you will have to settle for second best with JK Rowling or Tolkien etc.
There was a slight change to my pre-race routine this weekend with Mick Downes kindly driving myself, Anne-Marie and the Chairman to Werrington so I wasn’t at the venue 8 hours in advance like I was (or so it felt) at Congleton, Mick picked us up about 9:15 and we set off following a car with New Balance kit in the back. After 5 minutes of conversation commenting on the fact we were following Sam Hodgkinson, Tim piped up ‘ Is that Sam in front’ !!.
Anyway it was a very wet journey over to Werrington and a miserable walk across the car park to collect numbers resulting in various comments as to why exactly we were doing this FOR FUN !
However, just before the 10:30 start the rain stopped and it was perfect weather for running and a good turnout of Bats gathered together for the off. Now the main reason for me doing this race was to improve on my NSRRA points for both the individual group and also the team prizes, I am pretty certain of a top two finish in my group but at Alsager back in February I only collected 45 points so any improvement on that would add to my tally and with the team being age group related I knew I could improve on that as well.
Off we went at 10:30 across about 100 metres of very wet grass which was quite entertaining before running out of the school and downhill to the lanes, a few of my group went out rather quick so I set about catching them up and also trying to keep Mick Downes and Tim Hulse in sight, this is my aim next year to be somewhere close to their pace. Once we got on the lanes I had caught all of my Group rivals up and after a quick chat I pushed on hoping to leave them behind with a quickish start of 6:45 m/m pace. At this point though Tim and Mick had shot off into the distance so I revised my plan and just set about keeping a good pace around 7 minute mile which I knew I was capable off on a flat course.
Werrington though is slightly more undulating than I remember and there were a few sneaky climbs in the first few miles (as well as descents) before the proper climb at 4 ish. With the marathon in Austria just over 4 weeks ago followed by my PB at Congleton 2 weeks ago I have been struggled with sore calves and a visit to Brian Coles on Tuesday and a week’s rest seemed to be doing the trick as once I had got over the first mile or two where you always question the wisdom of running a race I felt quite comfortable in the legs. So the first 4 miles I kept a steady controlled pace of 6:45 to 7:02 which kept me in front of any group D rivals before the long drag between mile 4 and 5. It is a long plod but not particularly difficult so I was a little disappointed at my time up the hill (7:42 ish) so something to work on over winter, before you have a nice flat and then steady decline before returning to the main road back up to the school.
When I got to mile 5 I chanced a glance back and saw Lee Jones from Trentham, who is Group D, not a million miles behind and I didn’t know how fit he was feeling so I couldn’t let up and kept pushing on. As we climbed back up to the school I saw Paul Swan and Ben Gamble both of which encouraged me to keep working hard, although at this point I knew I was not going to be caught by anyone so I pulled the grimace face just to appease them !
Round the school and back over the grass to the finish line in 43:28 which was bang on 7min/mile according to Strava which was my 3rd fastest 10k behind Stone and South Cheshire which are considerably flatter and not so soon after long distances, so I was happy with the time and it gives me something to work on in the coming weeks. Lee Jones was second in the group about 30 or so seconds behind and we were then entertained by Olly Clarke who decided to do graceful slide over the finish line – 10/10 for style….
Tim and Mick had finished around the 40 minute mark and looked like they had hardly broken sweat but they had gained some valuable points for the men’s team, Kevin Uzzell, after running a 50 miler on Saturday, also ran along with Paul Swan, Tim Clegg, Richard and Mac, so hopefully we have closed the gap on the NSRRA team to try and nick second.
Amy was first lady in with Sam Hodgkinson, Anne-Marie (beaten in sprint finish by a Stafford Harrier who almost did an ‘Olly’), Pam, Bonnie and Joyce also gaining good points for the ladies who are looking good for at least 2nd.
After cheering everyone in we went back to the hall where I collected my Trentham Triple Towel (for running the 3 events they had put on this year), had a hot chocolate to keep warm before we set off back.
Unfortunately, I am not about for the Flying Fox 10 so that is me done for the season with respect to NSRRA but if you are reading this and not marshaling get yourself entered it is a great race and it would be fantastic to have a colony of Red Bats flying round the lanes on the 6th November.
On a personal note, I have hopefully done enough to get promoted to Group C next season which was my goal, I have achieved PB’s in all distances (except the marathon) for the second year running and I can highly recommend joining the NSRRA because there are some great races around the region, distances to suit everyone and you make some great friends along the way. Thanks to everyone in Group D who has run with me this year, you know who you are and thanks to everyone who has read my reports, hopefully they are fun and I’ll be back soon.
Have a good one !!
At the moment it is non-stop racing with the Thunder Run coming soon quickly followed by the Staffs Knot 5 and the Meerbrook 15k but today was the turn of the Trentham 10k.
Plenty of people recall the original Trentham 10 when it was a 2 lap 10 mile course but a couple of years ago it was rejigged to single lap 10k race meaning only one trip up past Beech Caves.
I last did this race 2 years ago but missed last years due to holidays and also it was a reserve NSRRA race last year so no points up for grabs !
After my successful jaunt round Cheadle last week I feel like I am running well and relatively comfortable so I even let the family come and watch at Trentham
Usually this is quite stressful as I want some sort of routine before a race but this Sunday morning I still got up early enough for Porridge but then sorted the kids out and made sure they were dressed and ready for my planned 9:30 departure. Guess what ? We left on time….shock…horror (suppose I better return the clocks to the original time now…..I didn’t before you shout at me !)
We arrived at Trentham and I sorted my number out and started chatting with the fellow Bats, Anne-Marie had thought it was a good idea to run up in preparation for Thunder Run next week, I toyed with the idea then dismissed it quickly, I think Anne-Marie wish she had also dismissed the idea.
It is always a bit sketchy before the race because everyone prepares slightly differently or warms up in their own way so I left the wife chatting to some of the girls and went off for a quickish 1mile war up to get the bones moving, during the warm up I quickly discovered it was much warmer than anticipated so I removed the under armour and went with just the vest. (its okay on a 10k I don’t get any friction on the chest area so took the chance even though I got the raised eyebrows from my darling wife).
Whilst warming up I checked out the competition, same crowd as last week and no sign of Chris from Rugeley, could it be another 50 pointer ? However, with the climb to Beech in the mix nothing can be taken for granted especially with Ollie Clarke closing in quick (is this okay Ollie ?). I also found out the start had changed slightly with the rapid downhill past the school changed to an uphill around the housing estate, it was a bit manic last time so hopefully this is a sensible move.
Anyway quick cuddle with the boys (and wife) and I made my way to the start, I am becoming to realise I should start a bit closer to the front and go off a bit quicker rather than jog round for a mile before starting up.
Quick speech from Ken mentioning something about car drivers being ‘silly’ I think that is what he said and then we were off. The quick left turn into the housing estate was a bit of a shock but off we went doing a loop for about 500 metres before rejoining Winghouse Lane and making our way to the bottom of the climb up to Beech.
A quick mention to my fellow D runners at this point as with the NSRRA you run alongside the same guys week in week out and it is all in great spirit and good fun so today I set out with Adrian (Cheadle), Matt (Trentham), Jon and some guy called Ollie (Newcastle), Steve (SC), Kevin (SMM) and a few others, there is also one lad Nick in Group E who has been running with me the last few races and is looking good for promotion this year.
We all started the long haul up to Beech and myself and Matt ran side by side most of the way until closer to the top Matt started to drop back, it is a good climb and when you get right to the top you have a quick 100 yard downhill before another little climb back to the main road. As we turned onto the main road myself and Nick found ourselves with a nice little gap so we use the big long straight to recover a little after the climb, you forget quite how far a mile is until you see it on a straight road….it goes on for miles….well a mile ! At this point you just need to focus on your own pace and not look too far ahead, so on we plodded and discussed tactics for the next couple of miles as I was leading D and Nick Leading E.
When you get to the A51 roundabout you turn left and there is a gentle climb for about 500 metres maybe a bit more but once you get to the top it is as good as downhill for the rest of the way so a bit more effort here and you have done the hard work. It was when we got to the top Nick said this is where I leave him, he tends to stay with me for 4 miles then drops back but I encouraged him on for about another half a mile before he started dropping back, I also took the chance to have a sneaky look back to see if I could see any of my competition, relieved to see they were not hot on my heels.
As we turned left back onto Winghouse Lane I did pick up the pace a little but with the number of races coming up I definitely decided to hold something back as I wasn’t going to smash any records by knackering myself up so when Captain Bernie hollered out my name I thought it was only fitting to holler back, a couple of runners next to me commented how did I have the energy to shout…oops.
Hearing our shouting spurred on Pippa Steele in front of me and she put some effort in, she needn’t have worried I was quite happy trundling down and finishing a good minute or so faster than the previous time and leading group D runner.
Although it is quite stressful having family present it is always nice to see them towards the end and they give me and the rest of the Bats a good cheer as we finished with a downhill spurt, however for a second week running I walked the last couple of steps – saving myself for Thunder Run (every second counts …..what a pants program that was!).
We got branded shoe bag as a finishing memento this year which was unusual and actually a very useful addition to the kit so kudos to Trentham for this.
I then hung around and cheered on my fellow runners, Bats and all, with the various handshakes, pats on backs, and congratulations passed round on what turned out to be a very hot day, I even understand my children had ice creams and didn’t bother getting me one…..how rude !
Sixteen Bats flew round past Beech with Paul Swan finishing an amazing 2nd behind Amy’s husband ! Pippa Steele was the first lady bat with Tim Hulse sandwiched between them. I understand Mac won his Group again along with myself and Emma Dutton won Group W, Kevin won 1st M65, Pam won F60 and I can’t figure out the younger women age groups but looks like we occupied a lot of the F35 and F40 places in the NSRRA tables if not overall – well done to everyone. I will try and get the results on the website asap but full results are up on the NSRRA site and Bryan Dale’s Race Photos (you will have seen photos on Facebook already).
All in all another excellent turn out with great support from fellow bats on the course, great turnout and another new member racing with us, well done Victoria Hughes (you’ll need to check the name with Bernie as he shouted something different.)
On Sunday a number of Bats ran the Richard Shaw 10k, sorry the Market Drayton 10k in rather warm weather but that didn’t stop a fantastic turnout on a humid Wednesday evening in Clayton. Twenty Bats (including two new recruits in Peter Jeffers and Ellie Evans) converged at the school to run the two lap race which is a popular NSRRA race and also a Club Championship race.
I won’t bore you with the details of my fun day at work but suffice to say I didn’t feel like running this race but by the sounds of it not many people were. With a weekend race, you get up, have breakfast, get ready, race, get home, get changed then enjoy the day – it’s different when racing in the evening you just want to put your feet up and have a pint !
Anyway, back to the race – it was an warm evening with an odd spot of rain as we all made our way down to the field for the group photo and getting ready for the off and just to remind us all it was only a quick blast, Ken Rushton mentioned Joel Harrison who when he finished the Clayton 10k would have completed 10 marathons in 10 days…….so stop moaning Phillips its 6.22miles !! It was a nice touch and Joel got a big round of applause from us friendly runners (until the whistle goes then man eat man).
7pm, count down and the off, which was a nice surprise as the last two races we started whilst we were all busy chatting. The course, changed last year, starts off with a lap of the field before out on to the road up to the roundabout which is a nice start to get the lungs working, we then make our way up Dartmouth Avenue, a gentle steady climb to ease your way into the race and find your race buddies. Unusually all my Group D colleagues were all in close quarters which normally means I have gone off too fast, my usual tactic is picking my way through the field after a couple of miles, however a quick glance at the watch showed bang on 7min/mile pace which was the target for this evening. So we had our usual early race chat making out as we weren’t competitive and just a training session etc. at the same time keeping an eye out on the couple of Group D runners who seemed to be 50-100 yards ahead….very unsporting.
As we turned off Dartmouth I had forgotten it climbed a bit more but on the steady climbs I tend to keep my pace even and usually pull away from people and although it was only a mile in we were starting to get stretched out. From what I could gather at this point there was possibly only 1 or 2 D’s ahead, one Rugeley runner who gained 50 points at Uttoxeter and A.N Other but couldn’t really see the letter as they were way out in front….at time of writing still don’t know if this was the case as I thought I knew all my rivals and it wasn’t anyone I recognised.
Anyway, I’m not competitive so why should I be worried ! After 2k we drop down through the woods and give a wave to Bryan Dale before turning back up Seabridge Lane. In the past I have struggled up here, however it didn’t feel as steep or long as usual so perhaps the speed work and hill sessions are paying off, we then have a nice down and up section of about 1k back to the Gatehouse pub before dropping back to the end of the first lap.
I make an effort in races to thank the marshals when I can and being a two lap race I made sure I thanked them all on the first lap because I wasn’t sure I would be able to speak on the second (surely if I can have a conversation in a race I am not trying hard enough but that’s another story). However, with Amy Gamble 100 yards ahead with the Rugeley runner just behind her I decided to push on a little at about mile 4 and closed the gap to the Rugeley runner as we came back through the woods.
Now as I mentioned I am not in the slightest bit competitive so as I was feeling good I should have pushed on past and given it all to finish in the best time possible…….I might have lied….if there was another D runner out in front I couldn’t see them so instead I decided that just nicking a point of this guy would be a bonus. So I sat behind him down the path letting a C runner speed past and then plodded behind him all the way back up the hill to about the 8k marker.
Then just as we started down the hill I pulled level and had a chat !!! I asked how he found Uttoxeter, told him our points were safe as there was no one close behind….blah blah blah and then as we started up the little hill I left him behind and pushed on. Now I didn’t know if he had much left in his tank but I was still feeling pretty good and knew I had enough for a sprint finish if needed so I increased the speed down past the Gatehouse and up to the roundabout.
At this point Amy was only a few yards in front so as we came back round onto the field I was in a dilemma, I wasn’t sure if my group D rival had managed to hold on so couldn’t risk slowing down but passing people in the last few yards is a bit mean but I went past Amy and another girl in front and crossed the line in 43:21 which was only 25-30 seconds slower than South Cheshire. The Rugeley runner was a good 20-30 seconds further back so perhaps I should have gone for it at 8K, maybe there is a quicker time in me yet….and this from someone who didn’t really want to bother at 6:45pm !. No idea on how the NSRRA points have gone but we are definitely competitive this year and hopefully get some prizes on the board – will post an update when I know more.
At this point Paul, Tom and Tim H were already home in some cracking times (37,38,40 mins respectively) so we cheered the remaining Bats home one by one with some great performances again – especially as some had raced Market Drayton, I believe Clare Irving PB’d. Peter Jeffers in his first competitive race for the club came home in an excellent 48:26 and Ellie Evans who joined this week managed 67:27, so brilliant efforts all round.
There was a big round of applause for Joel Harrison as he completed his fantastic effort raising lots of money for Douglas Macmillan and then the usual slapping of backs, shaking of hands and sweaty hugs with all the friends (now we have finished of course) and the see you at the next race comments.
We had a quick couple of photos whilst Michelle had some first aid – hope you’re okay now Michelle ! and then rode off into the sunset to see our families, secretly hoping the kids were all in bed so you could put your feet up and have that pint you dearly wanted when you left work.
All the results are on the website, I will update the Championship tables shortly (Tim and Amy still leading the way but Paul Swan catching you up Timothy).
Thanks to all the marshals, all the supporters and all my fellow runners, especially the Bats for another cracking race night.
Well here we are again, no sooner have we finished discussing last week’s South Cheshire 10K that we get ready for the Newcastle 10K. Last week people kept telling me it was a flat fast course, definite PB (which I did manage by 1 second) which I must admit made me quite apprehensive and I piled the pressure on myself as I had never ran the course before.
This week it was my third attempt at the Newcastle 10K so I knew all about Black Bank and also the nice flat run in along the old train track so no pressure, I knew what to expect and also what my expectations were – beat last year (45:02 I think).
Got up and followed the same routine, porridge, sort kids breakfast, shower and the change, however my darling wife sprang a surprise to the routine she wanted to bring the kids and cheer me on !!!! Whoa there….fortunately she knows me well enough to know I like being at the course about 6 hours beforehand (slight exaggeration) to get myself in the zone, mind you I’m the same with anything always get there too early ! So I get myself ready and set off leaving Nicola to decide where she was going to park and then cheers us Bats on later.
Arrived at Newcastle, collected the number and had a quick chat to fellow Bats and fellow runners, with the NSRRA it is great fun because I have been running against the same guys now for the past 3 years and it is great that we are all improving together and spurring each other on, although we all seem to say we aren’t up for it today, mind games on a Sunday morning !!
Last week for the first 2-3 miles my legs felt heavy and I wanted to just stop and go home but felt strong at the finish, so this week I tried a different approach, myself and Tim H went for a swift 2 mile warm up, to the bottom of black Bank and back, I think Tim wanted to scope the course out as he was a first timer on this race, although he claimed he was going to take it easy (39:13 !).
We got back to the car and start area about 10 minutes before the start and Nicola was there with the boys so went over for a sneaky cuddle before the off.
We started lining up and chatting amongst ourselves and before we knew it we were off…….the courses sends us out through Knutton and it is a steady incline straight away up to the Railway Bridge which gets your lungs working immediately before it settles down and you have a steady run for the 1st km, then you turn the corner out of Knutton and see the glorious site that it Black Bank. It isn’t a steep hill but it seems to stretch on for miles, you go past the 2km and 3km markers and keep thinking not far to the top but it just seems to go on forever before you get to Alsagers Bank and turn left….thank goodness no more hill….wrong, there is a sneaky little climb then into Scot Hay. At this point I had been passed by two Group D runners who had disappeared into the distance I kept going in the faint hope they would slow down, no such luck.
Once you are out of Scot Hay it pretty much flat with occasional downhills before turning onto Silverdale Road at about 6km where you have a good 1km downhill to get you ready for the last push where you turn onto the old railway line just before the 8km marker and go for home. At this point you know there isn’t far to go but the effort put in up the hill at the start prevents you (well me) from a sprint finish and it is a lot further along that track than I thought.
Eventually you see the finish line ahead and I pushed for home with Nicola and the kids encouraging me home with 100 metres to go and finished in 43:36 which was almost a minute and a half faster than last year……Progress !!
I think I finished 3rd in Group D which seems to be my current level so hopefully if I can manage a good season I might push on from here and who knows.
As always we hang around the finishing line like a bunch of teenagers outside an off licence and cheer on our fellow Bats and other racing buddies, shaking hands and actually enjoying the fact we have just slogged our guts out on a Sunday morning – runners are odd !
It was a cracking day, very enjoyable race, well organised as always by Newcastle AC and to top it off we had a Bottle of Beer and Glass waiting for us back at the clubhouse – I might go and open now I have wrote this…..so Cheers !!
Full list of times below with some great age placings with Paul Swan 1st in for the club in 37:32 and 3rd M50, with Angela Mensing 1st lady for the club in 44:22 and 3rd F45. Jayne Ford won the F55 category and Pam Davies the F60 category with age placing for Richard Shaw (3rd M65), Joyce Edwards (2nd F65) and Margaret Shaw (3rd F60).
37:32 Paul Swan
39:13 Tim Hulse
43:36 Paul Phillips
44:22 Angela Mensing
48:44 Richard Shaw
48:59 Jayne Ford
50:01 Samantha Hodgkinson
52:13 Pam Davies
54:11 Mac McCoig
54:46 Sarah Reynolds
55:22 Clare Irving
57:05 Tim Clegg
58:20 Joyce Edwards
60:15 Margaret Shaw
After my week off last week whilst the rest of Staffordshire were running the Stafford Half it was back to North Staffs action at the South Cheshire 10k.
It is my 3rd year running the North Staffs races but the first time I had managed to get a pass out to run this race on Easter Sunday (had to drive to Hull and back on the Monday to get the brownie points banked!!).
So woke up early and had the obligatory porridge breakfast and got my kit together ready to leave when the kids, still in pyjamas, asked to go out in the back garden and look what the Easter Bunny had bought. So some quick thinking gave me a quick warm up round the garden before I miraculously found the key and let them discover the magic !!!
Anyway back to the racing…..arrived at the registration area, collected my T Shirt and met up with some fellow Bats who were carrying cake tins ? There was very little talk of going to a Public House for refreshment afterwards more of what kind of cake, as noted on Facebook earlier is this a worrying trend or professionalism kicking in, perhaps one we can discuss on the ‘Pub Run’ Wednesday !
About 20 minutes before the start we went out for a gentle warm up whilst discussing race strategies. I think ‘Get it over with a quick as possible’ was the main consensus, a good strategy as it was a race.
The rain was holding off as we gathered for the start but there was a brisk wind which was quite cold when standing around so it was good to get going. The opening 500m or so is a run down to a roundabout then back to the start before going out onto the loop and it was good to see some Bats in the front pack with Paul Swan and Simon Hodgkinson near the front closely followed by Tim Hulse, Pippa and Amy, I wasn’t too far behind but after going off a bit too quick at Alsager I held back for the first mile or so until I found my pace.
As everyone said it was a relatively flat course with no noticeable ups or downs, the only tricky bit was the wind that with it being two circuits through an industrial estate there were a couple of bits that had you fighting against a brisk breeze, I tried using a fellow D racer (Adrian from Cheadle) and Grahame from Uttoxeter as wind blocks but after a steady first lap pushed on.
I could see Amy in the distance and knew of two D runners in front of me so kept expecting some to run past me at any minute but after about 4 miles I started feeling quite good and picked up the pace and slowly started picking off runners in front of me. After 8km you turn into the last couple of stretches and the wind at this point was behind you so you know it is not far and you give it everything, I crossed the line in 42:52 which was whole second inside my PB (although that was run at a charity event and my Garmin only registered 9.95km) and only a few seconds behind Amy so although I wasn’t feeling it at the start I was pretty pleased with my efforts. (Also got 48 points 🙂 )
We gathered together and cheered the other Bats over the line and a special mention goes out to Bonnie who ran her first NSRRA race in a brilliant time of 55:36 and got some good points on the board.
Paul Swan was first in for the club in 37:16 and Pippa Steele 1st lady for the club and also 1st F
35. Pam Davies was 2nd F60, Joyce Edwards 2nd F65 and Richard Shaw 3rd M65 also placing in their age groups, also a number of other PB’s achieved below:-
37:16 Paul Swan
38:27 Tim Hulse (PB)
41:15 Pippa Steele (1st F35)
42:46 Amy Gamble
42:52 Paul Phillips (PB by 1 sec)
48:26 Richard Shaw (3rd M65)
48:41 Samantha Hodgkinson (PB)
51:55 Pam Davies (2nd F60)
53:23 Mac McCoig
53:29 Margaret Shaw
55:36 Bonnie Seabridge (PB)
55:44 Tim Clegg
57:45 Joyce Edwards (2nd F65)
37:05 Simon Hodgkinson
56:23 Kathryn Ambrose (PB)
Back in the registration area we watched the presentation whilst eating Kathryn’s brownie (with spinach!) and chatted with our fellow runners.
Agreeing to meet up same time next week – Newcastle 10k (not quite as flat but still a great course).
On Sunday 28th February 2016 a varied group of Bats took on the first Cancer Research Snowflake Run in Hanley. Bringing together a range of our club members for what was an early start, the 10k race set off on a brisk but sunny morning.
Several faces dropped as we left the park and circled uphill towards Lichfield Street, not least those still reliving the 'highlights' of last year's Potters 'Arf! Thankfully the pain of Potters was short lived as we turned right along Leek Road towards Staffordshire University and progressed on a flat cross country route around the sports fields and campus.
The cross country element was made more enjoyable by Emma Dutton's challenge to high five all the dressed up polar bears on route! Heading back up into the park area, Bat groups started to form and encouragement and light hearted moments made the middle section tolerable, though David Griffiths may not have felt this way with Emma and Michelle Miles's consistent chanting each time their paths crossed!
Clare Irving and Lisa Ashton put in strong, quick performances and were giving great support for the sidelines as the Bats neared the finishing line. It was superb to see how the girls had grouped together and we're working to encourage one another even on the challenging last few hills. Special mention must go to all new racers who tackled the course with gusto as well as those seasoned veterans putting in their best efforts on such a beautiful day.
Lisa seems to be developing a new post-race tradition/habit of cracking open the bubbles once the race is complete and this was even more apt in the case of Jenny White who completed her first 10k without walking or stopping at any point, a fantastic achievement!
Overall the day was a great success for SMM with a lot of laughs and personal achievements. Cancer Research put on a great event and the Stone Master Marathoners were proud to support such a worthy cause.
By Michelle Miles