Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Keeping the fire burning over Christmas

TdeH was followed by a slothful Christmas week of no running, so I thought it prudent to show up at the Woodbank Parkrun on Saturday 29th. I was happy to finish only 6 seconds outside the PB from the beginning of the month. My younger brother was over from France for Christmas. Although not normally a runner he was happy to be dragged along for a jog round. I know he enjoyed it and I know he could be faster than I if he decided to take up running seriously.

On Sunday 30th we both made the short journey down to Adlington for the Adlington Winter Warmer, an almost impromptu 10k trail race with a difference. Race organiser Tony Ward decided only 4 weeks beforehand to put it on. He set up a page on Facebook and peddled it mercilessly. Every entrant would make a minimum charitable donation of £4, all proceeds going to the Seashell Trust.

It seems that everyone was hungry for a bit of fun exercise between periods of over-indulgence because 170 runners set off from the Miner's Arms in Adlington, on the outskirts of Macclesfield, to run along the canal towpath, the Middlewood Way (ex-railway line) and a few stretches of country lane. The weather was cool, bright and dry - perfect for running.

And the difference? There would be no winners based on speed. We had to guess our finishing time. The closest guesses had the pick of the prizes on the table. All timepieces, heart rate monitors, GPS devices, etc. were banned to ensure we didn't adjust our effort accordingly. I like it. My 10k PB was some considerable seconds over 48 minutes, but after the recent run of PBs I was feeling a bit raunchy in the athletic department, so I put down an ambitious 47:30 on the entry form. ;-)

Tony set us off running along the country lane from Wood Lanes (familiar reminiscences of the Bullock Smithy Hike there) for a km or so. We soon joined the canal towpath southwards for another km or so's running to the location of the final Bullock Smithy Hike checkpoint at Whiteley Green. From there we followed the BSH route down the short stretch of country lane to descend to the Middlewood Way and a run in the reverse direction northwards back towards Wood Lanes.Our spectators and cheerers gave encouragement from the bridge above as we ran underneath. (I wished I could run that stretch as fast as that on the BSH with more than 50 miles in my legs.) We carried on to Poynton Coppice, where we exited onto the lane and climbed to the canal. Here we turned southwards again to run back to the finish line on the towpath near Wood Lanes. The appearance of the finish line took a lot of runners by surprise, including me.

My brother finished a little while later. He was secretly hoping for a sub 1 hour finish. I wasn't sure whether he'd achieve it. We all had to wait until the presentation back in the pub to find out how we'd done. Tea and bacon rolls were consumed a-plenty and the pub buzzed with happy conversation while we waited for the results to be finalised. Eventually, Tony bellowed and everyone sprang to attention to hear the results, announced in order of closeness of guess. First place was just 2 seconds adrift of prediction. Then there was a 3, three 4s, a 5, a 7, an 8, a 10, a 12, two 14s, .... I was equal 11th with a 14 second difference, which earned a prize. What a novelty. I'll come back next year. My race time was 47:44. WOW again, my first sub-48 10k and sixth PB for December. That'll do me.

My brother excelled himself and got his sub-1 hour finish with a 58:05. He enjoyed it even more than the Parkrun the day before. Well done bro. Be careful, you might get addicted.

The view from the bridge at Wood Lanes looking down onto Middlewood Way
 (courtesy budding professional photographer Harry Barclay). Harry's Facebook album is here.

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