It was just less than a couple of weeks ago that my first year of running came to a satisfactory conclusion or if you like, my second year of running got off to a flying start.
The conditions were almost perfect, slightly overcast, light breeze and no rain as we arrived at Rivington School at the foot of the Lancashire section of the Pennines, just north of Bolton. There were a few of us from the local Chorley Sweatshop Running Community (SRC), each with our own goals for the trail race. My aim was to do the half marathon distance in a time between 2:15 and 2:30, a time I felt was achievable as I’d done the ‘normal’ (road) Freckleton Half Marathon in the June heat wave in around 1:55, adding about 25% for hills seemed fair.
As the runners started to gather it was evident that there was a variety of athletes present. From some people who looked fast even when standing still to some others that were obviously just pleased to be having a go. People were chatting and laughing in the early Autumn sun and as the start approached the atmosphere just got better and better. We gathered at the start, the pre-race excitement grew and grew and then we were off.
The 2013 Riving Trail Half Marathon started as 348 runners left the school grounds to be instantly faced with the climb up to Rivington Pike. The plan was to go slow and for once I stuck to it and passed a few early casualties on the way to the top. Downhill to the Rivington Tea Room where we were waved passed by Wendy who was there to support us and take photos then a quick right turn and we headed North past Lower then Upper Rivington Reservior a bit of a climb then continuing past Anglezarke Reservior to White Coppice, the halfway point. All was going well and my pace was well within target as I came down the other side of the lakes until I was betrayed by my foot not wanting to go over a tree root.
This resulted in me looking up at the sky for a few minutes in a very undignified way while nursing my ass. A few people stopped which considering we were in a race was great but I didn’t really want to put anyone out so got up, dusted myself off and carried on. After a while everything was back to normal, I could feel a slight bruise developing on my knee and a bigger one to my ego but nothing serious.
Feeling good as the route descended slightly and with a few km to go I realised that a sub 2 hour result was within my grasp if I could just maintain my pace and not encounter any more unforgiving foliage. That last kilometre was the hardest, obviously really, but not because it was near the end, it was a long, slow drag up a slight incline and it was a killer.
Just as I was wondering if it would ever end it did and a short downhill section followed by a sprint into the school grounds ended my first half marathon distance trail in a time of just under 1:58. I was stunned, my time was so much faster than I anticipated and can only think it’s the hill and trail runs I’ve been doing recently.
If I was famous and making a speech I’d dedicate this race result to SRC Chorley…