Thursday, 16 January 2014

Puma Stockport 10. 08/12/2013.

It's not really a 10 mile road race because there's some track and trail, even more so this year with the modified route on the other side of the valley that took out a bit more road. We could hear 'Tom Potson's' commentary echoing across from the stadium PA as we descended the new route back down to the valley floor. The "Pooma Shtockport Chen" is so much better for it. Tom's a good egg. His commentary is exemplary, he sports a good head of hair for his age and his choice of sheepskin coat cannot be faulted for this midwinter race (except it wasn't that cold this year).

The lead-up to this year's race was dynamic with underlying drama, as shown by the following two videos.

Post-race analysis can be found below. Try to curb your goody-bag lust.

My race performance was a bit off the mark. Compared to last year I'd gone off the boil somewhat. 1:17:46 was 2 mins 46 secs slower than last year's PB. That's by the by, though. I love this race. It's friendly, well-supported with electronic chip timing and very entertaining. I'll be back in 2014 for my 9th.

A minor drama occurred just after I'd passed under the finishing arch. A gust of wind wrenched it from its moorings and lifted it to the other side of the track, knocking over the race clock in the process. Amazingly it didn't touch any of the finishing runners on its journey, so clinical was the launch and repositioning operation. Ditch the tin tacks in favour of proper stakes next year?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Gravy Pud fell race 5mi. 01/12/2013.

Third year on the trot for me; I had to come back to Tintwistle.

Tintwistle - an old stone-built village bisected by the Woodhead Pass on the edge of civilisation at the foot of the Pennines.

The Bull's Head - a low-ceilinged country pub with open fires that forms race base.

Home-made cakes - post-race food.

Ancient cobbled track - the route we all run up together at Andi's sanction and run down in our own time, in a state of near collapse.

Blue and orange stripy snake - Glossopdale Harriers' new mascot making its weekly outing.

2013 provided the biggest turnout yet with well over 200 runners standing at the foot of that cobbled track awaiting Andi Jones' send-off instructions. The challenge of Lees Hill awaited, and it wasn't raining.

There then followed another personal beasting, pushing to the limit with tunnel vision. Let no extraneous or irrelevant stimulus detract from the job at hand - getting to that finish line as fast as humanly possible.

That's how to run a fell race and the best (retrospective) enjoyment to be had anywhere. If you do it three or four times a week you might see some improvement in race times. I was back down to one a week, so virtually back to last year's time as well. Couldn't complain at 0:48:51 though. Top half finishes are hard to come by.

Quick getaway afterwards sans cake to get one of the runners to hospital after a nasty fall and head injury. Although badly shaken up, he suffered no serious damage, thankfully.

Under starter's orders.

Lees Hill.

Caity wears the mascot.

Here are all the pictures I took.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Famous Grouse fell race 5.2mi. 24/11/2013.

Race 10 of 10 in the 2013 Hayfield Championship series.

Grand Slam or no Grand Slam, I would have been here anyway. It's one of my local favourite lung-burners and knee-trashers. It has a long steep uphill start that has me nearly blacking out with the effort, tunnel vision an' all. Ooh the sadistic pleasure of pushing the body to its limits in the safe knowledge that it's moving slowly enough not to do itself serious damage should the lights really go out.

The familiar ups and downs ensued once again on part of the Bullock Smithy Hike route up to Big Stone and down to Peep O' Day before the slanting contour that delivered us eventually to that surprising final climb that shouldn't really be there if they got their route properly optimised. ;-)

I enjoyed a tussle with Tim Ruck on his comeback from an extended lay-off. He caught me on that final climb. His sudden indecent burst of speed pulled him ahead as we began our long, leg-trashing descent back to the finish. I reeled him in again but not quite enough to catch him before the line. Well done Tim.

That final climb as Tim does his overtaking manoeuvre.

I managed 0:49:42, which was 23 seconds slower than my PB in 2010, when we enjoyed perfect deep-frozen conditions (this year was back to normal with soft sogginess).

Food, drink and presentations were had back in The Grouse Inn. Jack Ross, the style icon with the proper hat ('thumbup'), won in 0:34:53. Second was Christopher Leigh in 0:35:54. Third was Tom Bush in 0:36:39. First woman and 7th overall was Olivia Walwyn in 0:38:40.

A few of us won the Grand Slam award for completing all 10 Hayfield races. Mine required a successful "Race within a race", which was one of the highlights of my racing year.

Here are the pictures I managed to take.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

November 2013 - a couple of races in America

I was in America for two and a half weeks in November on business. I would be there over two weekends. Naturally the web was scoured for every possible race opportunity. The outcome was:

Sat 09/11 - LUNGEVITY Breathe Deep Busse Woods 10k, Chicago.

This was run in aid of the Lungevity lung cancer charity. It was well organised with electronic timing, small and friendly and consisted of an out-and-back on an undulating and winding paved biking/walking trail, so it was fast compared to what I'm used to. My time of 46:38 was 20 seconds outside my PB at Offerton 10k earlier this year (on a much hillier course). Business travel takes the edge off.

Post race I enjoyed a conversation with a Scot living in Chicago who ran a race in my home town earlier in the year. The running world really is a small one. Then I enjoyed another 4 miles of exercise retrieving course markers, which earned me a free lift back to the hotel.

Next day an icy blast blew down from the north and dumped over a foot of snow on us on Sunday night and into Monday.

Lake effect snow beside Lake Michigan in early November.

Sun 17/11 - Silver Strand Half Marathon, San Diego.

Vintage Chevy and surf board at the start.

This race was also electronically timed, but with a turnout of thousands rather than tens like last week. It followed a flat, linear route along the coast from Coronado to Imperial Beach. There were also 10 mile and 5k options, a wheelchair category and a roller skater category. Talking of whom, the winning skater completed the 13.1 miles within half an hour. That's averaging 26mph!

The skaters, poised for the off.

We started next to a military base and followed freeways that had been closed just for us before running a big out-and-back through another military base just before the finish. I set off ambitiously with the 1:40 group. I had to let them go by 3 miles. The 1:45 group caught me just after 7 miles. I thought I'd tag along with them instead. No chance! I couldn't hold onto them either. The 1:50 group crept up on me on the return leg in the military base with just over a mile left. I sped up and did my best to hold on, but couldn't even manage that. I just about held them in sight as we entered the long straight to the finish.

As I crossed the line a finisher's medal was draped around my neck. It's a quality piece as these things go, depicting as it does the vintage 1950s Chevrolet with vintage surf board on top that was there in real life.

Nice bling.

I can't remember when I last ran a half marathon; it's been many years, but I know I've run faster than 1:51. Did I ever say that business travel wrecks running speed?

The pleasant temperatures had resulted in much perspiration and a salt encrusted face by the finish. We recovered in the sunshine at Imperial Beach with food nibbles, beer and live music, after which it was time for me to return to the hotel. It was still only 11am. They start races early in the US.

I was able to take pictures this time.