Radcliffe 10 Mile Trail Race

‘This is hurting…’

‘This is hurting…’

Not exactly the most positive of mantras.  But at least it was honest.  I really was hurting from the moment that we started until the end of the race some ten miles and 1:13:29 later.

I wanted to a hard run to mark the end of a 60 mile week, and this one delivered a nice dose of tough right from the off.  My legs weren’t aching, just heavy and unresponsive.  It was everywhere else that was hurting: back, shoulders, and weirdly, my neck.  At this stage in marathon training it’s to be expected and it was simply a matter of putting my head down and getting it done.

The miles passed steadily enough and I was rewarded with a solid, hilly, off road ten mile effort at a 7:20 min/mile average.  Even better was the fact that I’d spent the morning with two club mates who’d also got out of the race exactly what they were seeking.


Marcus Chester, Marcus Chester runner, Radcliffe 5K Trail Race

Chester Marathon week 4/18 – Radcliffe 5K Trail Race

This has been a slightly odd week.  Or perhaps I’ve just been tired.  I’ll settle for tired. Really tired.  OK, that’s all the negativity out of the way.  Normal positivity can now be resumed.

The point that I’m labouring is that I don’t ordinarily deal well with tiredness, and this week I’ve found myself getting reduced sleep.  Some of this has been connected to the fact that it’s been quite warm, particularly in the evenings.  Some of this is connected to the fact that I’ve had to do some training later in the evening and I’ve not calmed down enough from the running to be able to fall asleep on time, and some of it is simply the fact that I’ve been working and training hard.  I’m consciously making a note of this as I move forward with the plan: I need more sleep and I will be making this a priority over the next few weeks.  I don’t want to spend the next 14 weeks feeling as mentally foggy as I have done this week.

However, I have enjoyed training this week.  As I write this on Sunday night I have run for 40 consecutive days for a total of 320 miles.  This is a daily average of 8 miles, and it’s the highest that I’ve ever run.  I’m definitely in the place where I want to be out running and I want to continue to gently turn the screw.  There’s no magic at work here, just consistent running.

Sunday’s race was a brilliantly organised trail race.  The course went from the cinder track at Cam’s Lane, down to Radcliffe before winding its way down the old railway line and back up to the track.  I ran as hard as I could.  My breathing felt great, I just couldn’t get my legs to turn over any faster.  In many ways this is pleasing.  I think that it’s great evidence that the base building is working.  I’m looking forward to see what happens when the more specific session start.

This week has looked like this:

Monday: 9 miles @7:22 m/m

Tuesday: 7 easy recovery

Wednesday: 12.7 @ 7:27 m/m

Thursday: 8 miles easy round the park but with 8 x 90 seconds on hills

Friday: 3 miles recovery

Saturday: 6 miles easy, then Bolton parkrun in an easy 26:00

Sunday: warm up, Radcliffe 5K trail race (19:15)

Total for the week: 55.1 miles

Next week the aim is to train is a similar way: two longer runs with the pace around 7:20 and another hill session.  The main difference will be that Bolton parkrun will be a hard effort and Sunday’s run will be 16+ miles.  I’m aiming for 75 miles.

Results for Radcliffe Trail Race


Haigh Hall Trail Race

My objective for this race: run as hard as I could.

With an opening mile of 5:41 it could be an easy mistake to think that I was running well. I wasn’t, I was running downhill.

The first mile or so of this 3.7 mile race is a sharp downhill on paths that lead from the newly refurbished playground at Haigh Hall down to Bottling Wood.  From there the course loops round before heading back uphill towards the finish.  I could feel the burn of lactic acid everywhere.  My shoulders were complaining as much as my calves.  The uphill section of the run was an exercise in willing my legs to keep moving forwards.  I’m always trying to see the bigger picture and I wanted to run this race as hard as I could as an exercise in pushing myself forward.  This race achieved exactly this objective.  I had to concentrate and run hard downhill; I had to concentrate and run hard uphill.

In the end I fnished in 24:52 for 34th place from 229 runners.

As I jogged back to my car I felt the familiar glow of achievement that comes with knowing that you have met the objective that you’ve set for yourself.  I couldn’t have put anymore in to this race and I couldn’t have got anymore out of myself.


Marcus Chester, Marcus Chester runner, Curley's Fishery 5K Trail Race, Bolton

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

It is always pleasing to feel that you have made progress; more so when the data tells you so.  That was just one of the things that I thought about after the last in the series of Curley’s Fishery Trail Races.

I went into the race with a clear plan: to run as hard as I could.  This always presents a physical challenge, but on this course with its downhill, wet and uneven mixture of cobbles and potholes it’s a matter of concentrating hard too.

At the top of the first climb I felt like I couldn’t have worked any harder.  I had settled into twelfth place and could already feel the lactic build up in my shoulders. From the top it’s an undulating section of road and I promised myself that I’d get to the gate which marks the entrance to the woods without anyone passing.  I managed to keep this promise and felt like I couldn’t have pushed any harder.

The downhill sections through the woods are the places where, in previous races, I’ve been caught as I ponderously take my time over the rocks and tree roots.  I knew that I had a number of good descenders on my heels but the drier and more secure conditions underfoot meant that I felt more confident on such tricky paths.  I was caught by Paul and Marcus, two Burnden teammates.  There’s no shame in this as they are both superb runners, particularly off road.  But that was it.  In previous races I’d have been overtaken eight or nine times; but here I made a conscious effort to run as hard as I could wherever I could.  And it paid off.

The last section of the race sees the runners back on the uneven road section towards the start. This time it’s back uphill.  With a huge effort I managed to catch and pass the runner in front to take fourteenth place overall and second V40.  My time of 21:14 was my fastest of the three race series and a pleasing way to end this brilliant series of demanding spring trail races.


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)