Stretford parkrun #24

Yesterday morning I made the short journey round the M60 to Longford Park in Stretford for my first attempt at the Stretford parkrun.  It was only when I arrived at the car park that I realised this was one of the tracks that I ran on as a teenager nearly thirty years ago.  I had a vague memory of running the 1500 metres in a Greater Manchester schools meeting on this track; but like everything else about running from that era, I can remember very little and have no record of it.

I didn’t worry about that yesterday though.  I was here to run round the park with several hundred other runners to on a mild, sunny spring morning.  We were all lucky.  The rain that had hit Bolton during the night had abated and as I left the car to jog for a couple of miles the air had that great early morning freshness that makes being out at that time so worthwhile and enjoyable.

As I jogged round I said hello to the numerous volunteers who were setting out various parts of the course with cones and tape.  It’s brilliant that so many see the value in volunteering; no volunteers, no parkrun.  It was also pleasing to see that the parkrun looked like it was going to be on smooth dry paths with only a very slight incline on one part.

The course starts and ends with a lap of the track.  From this point it’s a two laps of the park affair, with an out and back section towards the end of each circuit.  As we lined up I thought that there must be around 350 runners so I made my way to the front line.  Even though I wouldn’t be running with the fastest guys I wanted to be away before the sharp right turn out of the track into the park.  I also wanted to set off hard as a consequence of my plan for the morning.  As I embark on marathon training for the Chester Marathon in October I wanted an indication of my fitness and running hard would allow me to gauge this.  As it was the effort felt hard but not flat out.  I just couldn’t muster my legs to turn over any quicker.  The hilly session on Monday with Burnden Road Runners and the hilly race on Wednesday had taken some of the sharpness out my legs.  However, I somehow managed miles of 6:23, 6:35 and 6:26.  This brought me home in 19:29 for 35th place from 426 runners.  A new PB; a result that I was delighted with.

Stretford is a great parkrun.  I’ll definitely return at some point for another hard effort.  The course allows for quick running and the enthusiastic shouts from the event director as I ran down the last 100 metres helped to make for a very enjoyable morning.



Curley’s Fishery 5K Trail Race (2nd of 3)

I very nearly didn’t bother. With the second in this series of three races just a few days away from the Manchester Marathon, and with the course dusted with some freshly fallen hail, I did think twice before making the short journey over to Horwich. I’m glad I did go though. Despite being blasted by the hailstorm in the much needed warm up and despite being completely wet through before the start, it still made for an enjoyable evening race.

At first I thought that I might be one of only be a handful of people for race two. As I warmed up I passed a small fraction of the people that were jogging and stretching during the previous week. I knew it was cold. It was obviously slippy underfoot, but surely that wouldn’t put off so many runners. Would it?

I needn’t have worried. With a couple of minutes to go a large crowd made its way towards the start line: presumably they’d been seeking shelter in the dining rooms at Curley’s. And with that we were off.

I had chosen to take it steady. That last thing that I wanted was to pick up some sort of niggle just a few days out from the marathon. I did run fairly hard up hill, but I cautiously jogged the downhill sections. They were muddy, icy, and obviously slippy. With a bit of a push on the home straight I came in at 25th from 120 runners in a time of 22:40.

Again, a thoroughly enjoyable race. Well organised, supportively marshalled, and nicely competitive.


Curley’s Fishery 5K Race (1st of 3)

Curley’s Fishery lies to the north of Bolton on the B6226 between Bolton and Horwich.  It was to here last Wednesday that I drove last Wednesday, on a bright spring evening, to take part in the first of three 5K trail races.

After collecting my number I had plenty of time to jog around the course.  This was easy enough to do thanks to the marshals who had used a combination of signs and tape to indicate where the route was.  And what I great route too.  After a slightly downhill sprint towardIMG_1178s the redeveloped Arcon Village, the trail rises up towards Matchmoor Lane before heading down to the brilliantly named Wilderswood.  Here the paths becomes a touch more technical with lots of uneven tree roots to help to keep things interesting.  A loop of the woods and the course subsequently takes a mixture of paths, roads and trails to head back to the start.  In short, not a course for a PB, but a great spring workout.  Brilliantly organised too!

What did I learn?

As always, on courses like this I really need to relax on the downhill sections.  I left a number of people on the uphills (where I always feel strong) only to have some of them skip past me on the downhills.  It is difficult for me to naturally disengage my brain when running quickly downhill.  So a focus of my training this summer will be to complete some downhill speedwork sessions with this specific aim in mind.


22:28 (22nd from 149)