This popular event returned under the organisation of Run North West for the first time and a great job they did of it too.
I’d travelled across alone for this one to meet up with the Daddies in Southport. Apple Car Play Maps decided to try and take me down Regent Road towards the M602 initially but I know it’s down to one lane and chaotic. I made a mental note to take this up with Siri on my return and headed down the M56.
Now I’m not the leanest of runners and pray for drizzle or rain to cool me down soon as I got near Southport, my vista gradually grew blue as the clouds parted, bathing the region in glorious sunshine. Oh dear, and here’s me with a base layer underneath!
On arrival, I parked up (thanks marshall’s) and headed to the start with my trusty Nike bag that must be 20 years old. I found race HQ without a problem and met up with the lads. Liam was the 55 minute pacer and Mark Collier was to pace the 40 minuters. Also in attendance were Shaun, Frankie and Andy Hadfield and Steve Page met us a little later on the field (Get you’re Daddies top on Steve 😂).
I’d not bothered with breakfast, just a coffee on the drive over so needed something. Another coffee. I bought Liam a cappuccino and I got an Americano from The Coffee Pod ran by Alison Dalglish. The third Americano arrived in the form of Ray who was on holiday in the UK from the USA and was playing the famous links courses before heading back on October 2nd. We chatted with Ray as race time grew nearer.
Run North West had everything sorted, from a well organised baggage drop to iPad registration screens for the pay on the day runners. Really happy staff and volunteers too.
All that coffee needs somewhere to go so a quick trip to the loo was had before myself and Shaun jogged a mile up to and along the pier to warm up. Good job I did as the base layer was making me too hot and I decided to ditch it for now. The PA guy was good and never left dead-air, geeing everyone up and counting us down.
Once loaded into the pens, I positioned myself near the 45 minute pacer. My PB is 44:19 and I felt good and figured if I stayed ahead of the pacer I’d be in with a chance.
Once the klaxon blasted, I soon got across the start line in about 7 seconds; a new PB in itself. The early stages were quite curly and a few unmarked posts and benches seemed to cause some early frights for those who nearly connected with them.
Once onto the main road, the field opened up and I saw runners well ahead of me.
It’s at times like this you realise where you are with your ability: these people had started 7 seconds before me but by the time I was at 1K they were well on their way to two. Respect. I know how how these people must train to get to that. Shaun springs to mind here.
We headed under and around the pier then past the casino along Marine Drive until a left took us up to the road that runs parallel to the coast. A stiff breeze met me here and offered a bit of cooling once I’d turned onto it. These long straight sections are not good for me as I don’t like seeing the race so far ahead and the pier seemed to never get any nearer. There was scattered but vocal support and the clicking of camera shutters on DSLR’s
At this point around 3-4K I was riding the shoulder of the 45 minute pacer and got in front of him before we got to the left at the roller coaster.
The two lap course took us back through the park before heading out again. I was feeling good and knew I couldn’t let up in case I saw the badminton racket of the pacer with 45 minutes on come past me. I’d done this too many times in the past.
For me, running is difficult if I give it too much thought and I run better with an occupied mind so I count down from 100, one number every four steps and the miles just seem to pass by.
When I got to the 7K marker I was well ahead of the pacer and looked back a few times and he was out of sight so I figured my PB was in sight. My Garmin 235’s battery had died on the way over as I’d left the charger at work so was relying on the pacer.
I thought I’d have to go round the park again until the marshalls shouted ‘lap two turn right’ and there was the finishing line. I put down the pedal and pushed on.
As I drew nearer I caught glimpse of the timer which said 45:43! I knew I was 7 seconds behind it on my chip time but that didn’t make sense. The pacer should have been in FRONT of me. Once I crossed, I looked back and waited until he came in on 46:43, nearly two minutes off pace!!! I’m not sure who he is and applaud people who volunteer to pace but surely they must pace to time or there is little point. I will have to wait for that PB after all.
After collecting my water and flapjack which was alright but not a patch on my wife’s who usually makes some but hadn’t had time. I got my medal and T-shirt and went for a chat with the Daddies before grabbing my bag. Shaun had gone sub-40 again but no PB’s as the others were pacing.
It was quite weird looking round as there were so many people from clubs near where I live in Denton. I saw Tony Hillier and Philippa from GDH/HRC and loads more from Hyde.
My work colleague Ed lives in Southport so I said farewell to the lads and ventured onto Lord Street to a coffee shop for yet another coffee before heading back home.
Once in the car, I took up the conversation about directions with Siri but like most ladies, she insisted she was right so I shut up and popped on my audiobook ‘Armada’ by Ernest Kline for the trip back.
Onwards now to Chester Marathon in 2 weeks then Las Vegas Marathon in November. This time I’ll use my Garmin to pace if I remember to charge it!