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Man vs Barge

The weekend before the big Peak District Challenge, randomly, Michelle and I entered a race called (Wo)Man vs Barge. At the risk of spoiling the whole story, Michelle won and I sort of won.

The race was a random Facebook find which looked like a bit of fun during the last bit of tapering. It was a five mile jaunt over a hill racing against a canal barge travelling through Standedge tunnel, which I now know is the longest canal tunnel in the country. Whilst its great to know these things, coming from the Black Country I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for the Netherton tunnel which is legendary in its own right!

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The barge in all its glory

I’m not delusional about my running ability, I’ve worked hard over the last couple of years and can just about get a parkrun under 20 mins, but generally in races there are loads of quick people zipping off way ahead of me so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself running with the top five and being able to keep up! We were soon doing some serious incline when someone behind shouted we were all going the wrong way! I turned around to see a stream of runners going along a separate path! No!!!! This had seemed to be a chance to actually do well in a race! I bounded down the hill and soon met up with Michelle who’d also made the same mistake. By that point we were single file and walking with the main group and queuing to get over stiles, disaster!

As soon as I could, I made a break for it, knowing it was going to take some serious effort to get anywhere near the new front of the pack. Things started thinning out and I could see a couple of guys far up ahead and it took a big grit of the teeth to eventually catch up with them around about the highest point on the race. Like life, it was all downhill from here ūüôā Being in a team race next weekend any injury would be an absolute disaster, so I completely disregarded this and I flew down the hill as fast as I could knowing there were a couple of guys hot on my heels.

Suddenly I was at the end and was told I had come first.¬† This was slightly¬†confusing as there was a bloke in front of me! It turns out he was doing two laps so I’d “won” the one lap race! Given my mess up at the start I was grateful to accept and got presented with a Standage tunnel plaque! Mere minutes after I crossed the line Michelle came bounding over the line first female by loads and received her plaque! It was Cheshire cat grins all round – the Peak-District-Pork-Pie-Eating had clearly been working and¬†what a way to taper before our 50km run next weekend with a team win!! A beer on the canal path followed by chip butty at the local pub made for a great morning!

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Winners!

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Its longer than the Netherton tunnel ūüė¶

Peak District Challenge next weekend!!

A bit of final gear chat, I really am liking my Columbia Montrail trail shoes. So much so I’m going to use them for the Peak District Challenge to give them a proper long run out!

Race Report: Birmingham Half Marathon and Helvellyn Trail Race

The tentacles have continued pounding the pavement/trail for quite some time so¬†I thought i’d put up a couple of reviews of two very different races I’ve entered recently, the Morrisons Birmingham Half Marathon and the Lakeland trails Helveyllyn 15km race.

First up,¬†Victoria and myself eagerly got the train from Manchester to Brum and had¬†a relaxed night with the folks, a hearty¬†pre-race dinner, a couple of Erdinger Alcohol-Freis and then off to the city first thing in the morning.¬† The Square Peg Wetherspoons didn’t know what had hit it as the race masses decended for somewhere to stay warm and to get a¬†bit of¬†caffeine.¬† Even the resident chavs getting an early Carling looked somewhat surprised that their early morning waterhole was chock full of people “wiv numberz stuk on em”.

It was soon time to be shepherded to the start zones.¬† I’d somehow persuaded my sister to do this¬†one so we both went off to our separate zones to limber up for the run ahead.¬† Whilst i’m reasonably familiar with BHam I was mainly focused on keeping my pace up so kind of lost track of where I was. A really great atmosphere and I definitely enjoyed the jazz bands, the thumping raves, the people who’d set up their speakers out side their house and the great cheering support all the way round the route. ¬†I even managed to muster up a sprint for the last 200m along Broad Street to try and make it look easy (it wasn’t) but came across the line in 1:36:26 which was just over 5 minutes faster than my last half marathon so I was very pleased.¬† Followed by Guiness, Sunday Lunch, Lager and Pizza (in that order) and it made for a great day.

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Post Race Bling

Whilst the big city races are fun, I can’t help preferring smaller events with fantastic views, fresh air, and chunky trainers with grips on them.¬† A wet Saturday¬†in Glenridding and I’m limbering up (hanging around) for the 15km Helveylln trail race.¬† I’d put in quite a bit of training¬†for the Birmingham half marathon, so my plan was to¬†take this one easier with a gentle jog round the Lakes and a handful of golden ales snuck in afterwards.¬† Based on the continuous rain throughout the morning and squelching up to the start line, I began to realise this was going to be tough.¬† The first 3-4km seemed to be a continuous “up”, which exactly matched my heart rate,¬†and for the first time ever I walked in a race.¬† It was a particularly steep section, and most people round me were walking too (excuse alert) but I don’t think I’d have been any faster had¬†I carried on running.

The rest of the race was pretty much a mudbath, ankle deep running through overflowing streams across the paths, muddy bogs, slippy rocks and patches of heavy rain.  People were dropping like flies with any slight slip potentially leading to a tumble to the ground.  I did manage to stay upright but probably looked like a drunken giraffe on ice several occasions.  Any thoughts of taking in the misty views were forgotten as I discovered a major part of trail running is the continuous concentration on foot placement whilst maintaining some kind of pace.  It almost gave me brain ache.  I came in with some kind of squelching sprint finish over the line in 1:15:42 (82nd out of 256).  I learnt a lot about my own ability here and how punishing ascents can be, along with the mental concentration needed to keep things moving.

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In an astonishing twist, Victoria actually got me in a photo (previous attempts include my foot only)

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The trail map

Should be back to some nasty synth noises or camera mangling soon! ūüôā