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Great North Run

This is the biggest half-marathon in the world with some 54000 taking part and was set-up by Brendan Foster in 1981. Applications are double what they can actually take so we all felt privileged to run it. Even me, Richard 😉

This race attracts the whole spectrum of competitors, from charity runners and walkers through competitive club-runners and up to the current world champion up there at the front, Mo Farah who was chasing his fourth consecutive victory. The course record stood at a lung destroying 58m 56s but as long as his closest rival finished behind him, he’d have it.

This was a proper road-trip. By the time we were all on board Liam’s Sportage at 4:30am, armed with a coffee (because we’d all carefully saved up our McDonalds stickers), we dropped onto the motorway at Denton and headed northeast. It was still dark and 5 miles away, some die-hards were still dancing round the handbags in clubs across town. It would be nearly two hours before the sun would poke its head up on the eastern horizon.

Shove a load of lads in a car for a while and the conversation and piss-taking is epic. Liam and Frankie occupied the front seats and Shaun and I sat in the back like a couple of kids. Liam had even left the child-locks on for us.

Now music can tell you a lot about someone. I had a decent 4G connection to Amazon Music and started streaming the tunes through the car’s sound system. I tried some decent stuff, Foo Fighters, Beatles, Coldplay and such but every time Liam turned the volume down to about three meaning in the back it was basically inaudible. This went on for a while before Liam put in an official objection with some carefully chosen words – “This is shit”. So of course I ask, “Pick a song, I’ve got everything” and got “Anything” as a reply. I probed a little further. “C’mon, what do you want me to play?”. I wish I could fast-forward here but picture the scene … The eventual reply was “Steps!!!!” or “S-Club”. Shaun and I looked at each other in stark disbelief and mimed ‘Steps?”. For a laugh I played ‘Tragedy” so cue Liam and Frankie doing the actual dance with the hand movements, seat dancing and moving in time, with the volume on maximum (50) whilst in control of a two-ton car going at 75mph in the dark. I think my fingernails are still embedded in the seat-back.

Shaun and I could only take so much and thankfully our bladders sent up some reminders that maybe it would be a good idea to empty them so we slipped into Wetherby Services. Bladders evacuated, we headed back to the car but Greggs had their magnet switched on and it dragged us in. We left a few minutes later armed with coffee and bacon butties.

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“Shaun’s bacon butty must have been laced with LSD”
As we wound our way north-east, daylight eventually enveloped us as we made our approach to South Shields.

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Running communities are great for sharing tips on all things, including where to park at events so we took advice and found our way to Grosvenor Road which is a main artery down to the beach on the approach to South Shields. The air was nippy and as ever I was cold. Shaun was a bold as brass Northerner and opted for just a t-shirt as we made our way down to the beach.

Arriving at finish (if that makes sense), we took a look at the finishing gantry and just hoped that we’d be back here in around 100 minutes after the start at 10:40 am in Newcastle.

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We jumped on the bus to Newcastle from near the finish and did all we could to stop Shaun climbing into the drivers seat. We headed right to the back on the upper deck for the ride into the City Centre which took in the majority of the finish as we assessed the terrain. I suggested it was undulating, Shaun said he liked hills, Frankie said “Its a bit up and down” then Liam concluded “It’s hilly as f*ck”.

I’d never been to Newcastle and still feel as though I haven’t as all I did was get off the bus, have some porridge then run away from it! We found a McDonalds on a Main Street and the others went to get porridge while I queued downstairs for the loo which took about 25 minutes (the queue, not the event itself). One chap emerged dressed as Superman and some sharp mind pointed out he should have used a phone box rather than the bog.

I’d never been to Newcastle and still feel as though I haven’t as all I did was get off the bus, have some porridge then run away from it!

When I returned, we found someone who had escaped the local lunatic asylum but managed to get him under control and back into his straight-jacket….

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It was here that we met up with Mike who had been there since Friday night (Newcastle, not McDonalds) so we took no time in getting a photo taken.

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Shaun, Mike, Frankie, Liam and RichPete
We needed to drop the bags off at the buses before dropping down onto the start area on the motorway. Everyone seemed to be watering the plants so we felt duty-bound to contribute.

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Frankie and Mike mark their territory
If you ever bend down to fasted your shoes or zip your bag shut, watch out for Frankie and Liam as they tend to ‘hover around’ making for some dodgy photo opportunities …

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Bags gone, trees watered and ready for action, we climbed over the fence (Liam says I just stepped over it) and walked down to the starting pens. Here it was like passport-control with some well-drilled staff pointing and directing where you should go. They were pretty hot on making sure people went to the right pens and we were all split up.

We still had 40 minutes to go so it gave plenty of time to stretch and warm up. Brendan Foster was on starting duty for this race instead of commentating for the BBC and he seemed to really enjoy doing it.

I tried to do the warm-up again but I was all over the place again, totally uncoordinated and making a right hash of it!

Whenever I write these blogs, it’s quite hard to remember the run itself as you sort of go into auto-pilot and just concentrate on the run. The route was rather dull to be honest as it was on dual-carriageways but did allow room to run unlike some events. Organisation and support were tip-top and all was well until between miles 11 and 12 where a prolonged hill sapped much of what I had left. I was also hot despite running through all the showers I could find.

The bus route to Newcastle had been useful as we sort of knew what we had left as we traced our steps back to the finish. The final mile is great as you drop down onto the beach road and feel the surge of support flanking you until the finish. This is worth a minute at least and is always very welcome.

I crossed the line in just under 1 hour 43 minutes and made my way to get my medal, looking for the others but we’d managed to miss each other near the start when Liam, Shaun and Frankie had waited for me in their pen but I must have passed them un-noticed.

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The weather had turned a bit colder on the front and we met-up near the baggage buses minus Shaun who had taken a turn for the worse. I managed to find freebie Heineken (0% alcohol) and managed to sink 7 of them while Liam and Frankie visited the TCT tent ‘after show party’. Shaun approached and looked white as a sheet.

It had been a long day and we headed back to the car. Shaun was not a well man. We arrived and got changed before Shaun jumped up and ran to the fence to hurl his guts over the fence into the playing field of a local school. I remembered I was sat next to him and that we had a long journey to complete so donned a poncho. What I actually did in fact was open up a carrier bag and shove it into the seat back in case he needed any more. He would.

We got a clean break from South Shields or so we thought until we got snarled up in some traffic due to local road-closures. On a few occasions, Shaun would throw open the door and make his own set of white lines down the middle of the road. He’d just started to feel a bit better than let something else go ….

Now cars are quite confined spaces and tend to distribute odours quite quickly. This is not a good thing. What ‘came out’ would have been accompanied by a green cloud in a Harry Potter film and I think it had a nuclear capability. The payload found its way round the cabin quickly and turned us all green.

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We pulled into McDonalds and loaded up with coffee and burgers for the trip back and returned to find Shaun asleep.

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[Shaun dreaming of running shoes and hills}
Liam had driven all the way there and was driving back when Frankie volunteered to step-in so we pulled into some services to do a driver pitstop. Some 21 minutes later, Liam was back in the drivers seat. Thats 1260 seconds. Just saying.

The weather took a turn for the worse coming back and the surface water was challenging (I’d guess as I was sat in the back).

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Once home, I decided to have a lie-down so Janet took this photo which sort of went viral.

All in all a great day out for us.

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Times

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UKFast City of Salford 10K

3rd September 2017

The UKFast Salford 10K is an ever-popular event in the race calendar and within easy reach of us, being just a short hop across town. 8 of us raced this one: Liam, Frankie, Shaun, Paul, Jim, Andy and myself (Pete) and our newest member Andrew Nurney who had joined the group on Strava and is of-course now deeply entangled within its challenges and goals. Andrew had ran a previous 3 events with us and it just seemed logical to adopt him as our own. We also ran with Jim’s dad Alan, pictured to the right in this picture.

 

The day started dry; as if the skies above Manchester had taken a deep breath to keep the rain off us, if only for a while. There were quite a few roadworks going on around the course, hence the need to alter the route from previous years which is good in a way as it keeps the event fresh.

We’d travelled in a few cars and decided to meet-up at the start which was in Media City Plaza and now home to the BBC and ITV television studios. The main masses didn’t arrive until quite late and then all seemed to be there at once. A few of us decided to loosen up and took a short route over and around the water to stretch our legs. Not that mine need stretching according to Liam as he seems to hold me in the same regard as Gulliver (I’m only 6’2″!). The captain led us on a meandering, snaking route up to the Lowry Theatre before we split up and completed our own little routines.

We were lucky enough to meet up with the legend that is Dr Ron Hill. A man who has influenced me greatly and doubtless countless others. If any one person deserves a knighthood, it’s this great man. Kind and approachable as ever, Dr Ron stepped in for a photo with us.

Warm-up

On return, it was time for the official warm-up from the UKFast trainer Aaron. Now I’m terrible at this! I once attended a ceilidh at a friends wedding reception and after causing mayhem on the dance floor, banging into people and stepping on toes, I was kindly advised (by the DJ himself)  to sit down and just drink beer. When everyone goes left, I go right and so on so I’ve learned to not even try. Not so Andrew Nurney … Andrew, for those who don’t know, is pretty nifty on his pins on a dance floor (including proper ballroom dancing with his daughter) and seemed in fine form; co-ordinated, graceful and in-time. Liam leaned over and whispered “He’s not shy is he?”.

Time to open the pens

Looking around the plaza at the same time the PA asked us to go to the start, we realised that the amount of runners in attendance were not going to fit into the starting pens and we found ourselves near the back. Andy and Jim decided a PB was clearly out of the question due to the early traffic. The warm-up was somewhat pointless as the start was delayed some 15 minutes while the organisers negotiated with Metrolink to stop the trams (this happened in previous years too but appreciate its a big organisational headache). Id rather wait 15 minutes than get run-over like Alan Bradley in ‘Corrie’! Still, we used the time to get a ‘trainer shot’.

Spot the runner from their running shoes

Jim had spent a week in Cape Verde (and even Strava’d his flight. Hmmmmm!) prior to this and his dad Alan sensed victory on the basis of over-indulgence by Jim on holiday. However, this race was going to be a good one for four people. Liam, Frankie and Shaun had decided to push Paul through the pain-barrier to get him below 46 mins.

The horn blew to signal the start and we were off. Andy adopted the style of the ‘luminous whirlwind wing nut’, elbowing his way through the field to clear a path to the front. Man on a mission and the earlier statement about not going for a PB was history. I followed behind nursing the injured and waiting for evac helicopters to air-lift the wounded to hospitals as a major incident was declared 😉 Enough!

The weather suited me and despite wearing a GPS watch (the £25 Garmin Forerunner 235!), I ignored it and just ran how I felt it. I’d had a PB of 0:44:36 since 2011 and hoped to better it. Somewhere around the Coronation Street set, Jim passed me as if he was chasing down a wildebeest; eyes set on someone in front following their every move. He had a sweat on though! Entering the Man Utd car park, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a blur of yellow and managed to pick out Frankie. Well aware of his famous ‘Frankie Finishing Flourish’ I dug-in and kicked on. Again entering the last kilometre, I had visions of him passing me waving two-fingers (like last time!) but not today. The course narrowed over the last 200m as we took a route over the bridge and into a finish lined with cheering support which is always an awesome feeling. I know I’d be close as my lungs had a burning sensation I’ve not had in a while. Turning the corner I saw 0:45:19, 20, 21 and thought I’d blown it until I stopped my Garmin and saw 0:44:36 and exactly the same time as my PB and realised the official time showed the gun-time. This could go one of two ways, faster or slower but I would not know until I got the text message from TDL but my phone was at the baggage drop. I would have to wait.

I’d just grabbed my t-shirt and in came the posse! Paul had done it and ran well under 46 mins to record a new PB. High fives all round but the celebrations were just beginning. Andy Hadfield had knocked around two minutes off his PB with just over 40 minutes to cover the distance – great stuff! We all made our way over to the bridge to welcome Andrew Nurney back and shortly after we arrived, he came bounding across the bridge, nearly taking another runner with him as we cheered him on to the finish.

Out of all of us, Andrew had cut the greatest chunk out of his PB by a full three minutes. Thats the daddies effect right there! It was also a better run for Shaun who is still recovering from a groin injury but as they say, good days and bad days. This was one of the better ones 🙂 (Hope to see you make a full recovery soon pal)

We ambled over to the baggage drop and picked up our stuff then chomped on some Mars Bar cake courtesy of Mrs Pete. Liam asked where his stick of celery was but it must have fallen out of my bag. I grabbed my phone and saw the SMS from TDL (sorry to talk in acronyms) which revealed I’d put a one-second dent in my PB which now rests at 0:44:35. Still, a step in the right direction and I’m 6 years older.

Jim could not hide the devastation of finding out his dad had pipped him by 3 seconds. I bet that was a long and silent drive home.

While eating our cake, we bumped into Laura from Davenport Runners who jumped in for a photo.

Race finished, Manchester let that breath go and down came the rain as we plodded back to the multi-storey car par to find out what the remainder of Sunday would hold for us.

Times

  • Andy Hadfield: 0:40:24 – PB
  • Peter Gough: 0:44:35 – PB
  • Alan Talbot: 0:44:52
  • Jim Talbot: 0:44:55
  • Paul Minton: 0:45:35 – PB
  • Frankie Yan: 0:45:44
  • Shaun Chambers: 0:45:44
  • Liam Mellon 0:45:45
  • Andrew Nurney: 0:55:34 – PB

Colshaw Hall 10K

25th June 2017

Well this will be a tricky one to find any humour in. One man down due to injury and my usual source absent, hanging wallpaper back in Newton. Let’s see how we get on.

Just one week after the Tour of Tameside, we were racing again, this time set in the heart of rural Cheshire amongst the McLaren showrooms and a selection of Grand Design houses. Colshaw was the name of the hall that gives its name to the 10K and set in spacious and manicured grounds.

Five ‘Daddies’ would run this one but six of us were there. It is really heartbreaking to see Shaun injured. It’s like seeing a kid open his presents on Christmas morning and found out that instead of a Scalextric, he’d got a Barbie. It must be gut-wrenching to see everyone doing exactly what you want to be doing but to still turn up and support us says all you need to know about him. Hope you’re out again soon pal.

After the traditional early meet-up at McDonalds for coffee and porridge, we travelled in two cars; Shaun and Akkeal were in the silver Fiesta and Liam, myself and Paul were passengers in Frankie’s beamer. On arrival, we bounced across the rutted field and parked at a jaunty angle that drew amusement, especially from Liam who insisted on jumping in the car and parking it properly.

A short walk across the field led us to the race area which was already set-up with a number of tents selling running gear, coffee and food. Not for yet though.

Complaint!

Now its not often we have complaints on this blog but why-oh-why can’t a race number be transferred between one person and another, especially when both the ‘giver’ and ‘recipient’ are stood next to you? As Shaun was injured, it should have been a simple job of putting it in the name of Akkeal but they would not allow it (for us). Not five minutes after hearing this, a runner stepped-up and asked if he could use the number his wife had as she couldn’t run it and it was done there and there. If it’s a policy thats strictly adhered to then fine but don’t be selective based on who is asking. Enough said; back to the race.

Before the start

We got changed and donned our shirts then Akkeal unwrapped his new Piranha running shoes (still with the labels on) and gave them a test drive. The queue for the loos snaked across the lawns for about 200 metres with 15 minutes to go and that is not an exaggeration so lots of people decided to go for a ‘little jog’ amongst the trees. All loaded up with energy drinks, those trees will be 10 feet taller today. Once we were all reassembled with about 20 to go we got together right outside the hall for a group photo. You could imagine a rosy-nosed gentleman inside wearing a cravat staring out through the net curtains and seeing us outside then saying “Bunty, go and get my shotgun”.

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We’re off!

The race director called us to the start and it was only then we saw it was a big field (the number of people racing, not where the tents were). They called us forward and then we were off again. Akkeal got a little caught out as he was chatting to some Altrincham runners (“fast friends, fast friends”) when it started and was a little further back than he wanted to be. After crossing the line, we had about 100 metres before turning right onto a country road then a nice downhill start where it was still quite bunched and my early steps had me zig-zagging between people like suggested manoeuvres for someone escaping a madman with a gun. The course was on closed country roads and absolutely car-free. It was not entirely flat and had a few surprises here and there. After expecting and hoping for rain, the relatively warm weather was probably great for some but not me. I’m not a moaner but I do miss the frost, rain, sleet and snow which is my preferred running conditions. In Summer, I sweat like a turkey a week before Christmas so any form of air-borne moisture is welcome to me. At this point, I was ahead of Liam, Frankie and Paul and felt quite good.

Now one striking feature of this race is its setting as at one point, you turn a corner and you’re presented with a wonderful view; that of the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank. With just a month until its official 60th birthday, this 89 metre high parabolic dish has been harvesting data from space for 10 years longer than I have been alive. A truly amazing feat of engineering and still one of the most powerful of its kind and it was great to get so close to it having passed it on the train a week earlier coming back from Cardiff.

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The telescope was about 6K in and I still felt good. Soon after this I glanced over my shoulder and there was Frankie, running strongly and performing his famous ‘Frankie Flourish’ at the end. I tried to keep up with him but my best steps were behind me so I tried to keep up with Liam who was about 5 metres behind him. I ran with Liam for a while and I’ve got to thank him here as he really pushed me on at the end saying “Go on Pete, beat me”. Seeing the runners turning into Colshaw Hall ahead I just kicked-on and knew there was only a bit to go.

The finish was great along a tree-lined avenue with the timing mat some 200 metres from the gates. Liam and I crossed within a metre of each other, both recording exactly the same time of 45m:56s. Shaun was at the finish taking photos of us all (see attached). We were given a shoe bag, a piece of flapjack, a bottle of water, a banana and one gigantic, saucer of a medal!

Mrs Pete had been busy the night before and had made Mars Bars Cake (shall we called it “Daddies Delight Race Cake”?). We scoffed the cake and some additional confectionary that Frankie had brought from Starbucks (I know, just in case someone from his work reads it 🙂

Colshaw Hall is in a place called Peover so just before we left, Frankie had a little peover the fence.

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Tour of Tameside – Final Day – Dr Ron 7 Mile Road Race

18th June 2017 : 26ºC

Its not often the temperature is attached to the date of a blog post but I’m putting it up there bold as brass as it puts what is to follow into some kind of context.

This was day four of the famous Tour of Tameside and fittingly named this year after the legend who started it, Dr Ron Hill. It was to be a day of achievements on a number of fronts. It would be the end of a first full tour for some, the second for others and for one, the end of an incredible journey over 6 months to honour a loved one.

We’d agreed to meet an hour before the start in the car park at Asda but on arrival it was clear that I wasn’t the only one suffering. From tight hamstrings to numb toes, the Tour had taken its toll on the Daddies and this final event would be both  a celebration and a chance to relax and unwind afterwards. Frankie had rolled-up his sleeves. Sun’s out, gun’s out.

Akkeal, Shaun and I decided to try a pre-race massage to see if any life could be squeezed out of our tiring limbs. At a fiver for 15 minutes, this was great value and for me at least made a big difference. At one point while stretching my thigh muscles, the masseur asked me to push my hips through the table which would prove difficult as I was at that point pushing my teeth through the towel. We all seemed to feel the benefit and whatever they did, we got round in one piece.

It was about 5 minutes after climbing off the massage tables that they called us to the start. The skies were clear, cloudless and for people about to run 7 miles, threatening. Rick  was ‘talking’ with some other competitors; the type who tend to wear pink and an extra item of underwear.

The race director asked all competitors to observe a minutes applause in memory of those lost in recent tragedies in Manchester and London, remarking how sport and running brings people together. The Mayor of Hyde made a short speech before handing over to Dr Ron to hoot the horn to mark the start. Shortly before, Dr Ron thanked all those who had sent him messages of support to get better which was really well received. Everyone at that start line knew what it takes to run so well and to have done so for so long, and so consistently, yet remain such an inspiring, approachable and friendly man. People acknowledged this warmly with their applause.

Once the hooter was sounded, the final race was underway. Akkeal was renewed and from where I was, saw him take a position with the leaders. If there was any doubt as to whether he was going to give it all he had, he’d really nailed his colours to the mast.

We’d ran this route a couple of weeks earlier but in the evening when it was cooler. I’d felt strong that night and would have been second or third back in our group had I not taken a wrong left turn and gone on a magical mystery tour of Hyde. Not a problem today, as the marshals were out in force, cheering us on at every turn. Its so nice of people to give up their time, both parents and kids alike bedecked in their yellow marshals vests.

The first part of the course takes you up Market Street towards Gee Cross on a steady incline which gets steeper the further you go. A sharp left took us up another hill until we were rewarded with some flat and a downhill bit. Here, my body was up to temperature and some point beyond. Rick, Paul, Liam and Frankie slipped past me. Now I can’t run and talk so just gestured I was OK and stuck to my own pace to make sure I made it round. Rick was chatting away with some chap who had noticed him from Strava. We dropped down into the dip over the railway bridge before another lengthy incline taking us up to the left turn before McDonalds. I was really thirsty here but knew water was about another mile away.

Running is mostly physical but a big part is mental. The day before, I’d been struggling with the heat and after 4 miles, really questioned whether I’d be able to finish but managed it. On 4 miles this day, I just kept reminding myself that I had less to go than I had completed. As soon as I left the housing estate and dropped onto the main road into Hyde, I managed to kick-on and recover some time. Up ahead, the others would either be finishing or on final approach. At the end of this road was a left turn up a hill (the one I should have turned up a couple of weeks before) before levelling out through the approach to Market Street then a nice downhill bit to finish. Flagging at the top, it was here that Tracey Vulcan told me to keep going, sharing some of her isotonic drink with me (Thanks Tracey!).

With the end in sight, I lengthened my stride and crossed the line right on the hour. Dr Ron was there to welcome back all the runners and it was a pleasure as always to meet him.

I walked through the finishing pen and met up with the Daddies. Akkeal had ran a great race and so had Shaun and Steve. Pictures would later show that Rick, Liam, Frankie and Paul had crossed the line arm-in-arm and I wished I’d been able to keep up with them. Never mind, there’ll be other times 🤜🤛.

From here, we collected our shirts and ambled up the steps of Hyde Town Hall to collect our tankards. My wife Janet suggested I filled it with beer so, needing little encouragement I had it filled with lager and it was pure nectar. Akkeal had another massage before we all headed over to Wetherspoon’s for a celebratory drink with partners and kids.

However, we had one further thing to do. Steve joined Daddies Escape a few months ago as he’d got into running by making a pledge to complete 1000 miles of running on or before the Tour of Tameside in memory of the baby daughter he and his wife lost. With ‘milesformolly’ on his shirt, the final mile was fittingly crossed in the final mile of the final race. We had chatted privately over the previous couple of days and agreed that we would do ‘something’. We picked a suitable moment and showered him in Champagne (well, Babycham) in recognition for such an amazing achievement after such adversity.

We’d also agreed to get the wives and girlfriends a token of appreciation for their understanding of all the times they’d washed up, put the kids to bed, done the ironing and all of the above. Liam phoned me on Saturday evening when I was driving home from my sons sailing competition, asking if I wanted anything from Asda then realising VERY quickly that he was on speakerphone and Janet was in the car. Janet found it a bit strange and suggested he could get milk and a four-pack of beans. He’d of course phoned about the flowers he was buying. Top marks to Liam for not letting the cat out the bag. All the ladies received a nice bunch of flowers after the event.

We all headed over to Wetherspoon’s and tucked into some food and a drink or two before assembling outside for a photo.

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Shaun nipped over to the Town Hall and collected £50 for winning first place in the V50 Category, collecting further honours for the club.

All in all, a wonderful day for the Daddies. We’ll be back next year.

Tour of Tameside – Stage 1 – X-Trail 10K

15th June 2017 : 7:15pm

T _ _ _ of the Tour

Daddies are like buses; you wait for ages, on little outings here and there then one day, 12 turn up at once. As a group, we know that not everyone can be out on training runs every other night (except Shaun and Liam!) so it was a real pleasure to see our luminous yellow tops with our logos in such abundance at this event.

We were here to contest the first stage of the famous Tour of Tameside. Some of us for the first time, some for the second and some for the first time doing all the components of the Tour. As Paul would later quote on the start line “Full Tour or No Tour”.

We (mostly) arrived about 6pm and had a wander around Oldham Rugby club where the Tour finishers shirt was on display, flanked by beer from Tweed’s brewery and the backgrounds that would serve as photo areas for the winners. As it turns out, we would feature in this bit later!

Old acquaintances were renewed and new ones made. Over to Rick at this point as he seems to know everyone, especially if they don’t shave. A quick check of the heart monitors on the Garmin 235‘s revealed that Akkeal was supercharged and ready, pumping at 115 BPM half an hour before the start. I’m sure everyone else was nervous / anxious / excited (delete as appropriate).

Rick had bought some Jungle Fever, which isn’t an alcopop but an insect repellent. A liberal spraying and I was as welcome to an insect as a fart is in a spacesuit. Steve’s mum and sister had come to cheer him on. Mrs Pete was handing out the Jaffa Cakes and popping her umbrella up at the merest hint of water vapour (Mrs Pete doesn’t do rain!).

It was a short walk down to the start. Some of us walked and others such as Steve used it as a warm-up and a chance to edge closer to his 1000 mile target that he’d set on December 30th to complete on or before the Tour. As it stands, it looks like he will reach the four figures at the end of the final stage. Put the celebrations on ice for now though as we had this race to do.

This one was over 10K on varying terrain and like a flight, all the drama was saved for the start and the end. Akkeal stated his intent before the start; taking a position on the front row. After running legend Dr Ron Hill blew the airhorn, we were off.

The first half mile was a gentle incline before hitting the hill of hell that tests whether you’ve trained or not. A beast of mother earth rose upwards at a frightening rate and pulled hard on those upper thigh muscles. Runners are usually quiet people but the breathing was hard and heavy on this bit as we all tried to suck in the air to fuel our muscles. As it levelled out onto the trail after another undulation, I gathered my normal pace and glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone I know was nearby. Rick was hovering over my shoulder!

There were about 4 miles that made an out and back route which was flanked by trees in full leaf, casting a rather dark area for running. Occasionally the sun punched through and a short squirt of light rain also made us remember this was England and not to get used to nice weather. Rick passed me here looking strong. A little further behind, Liam, Frankie, Paul and Mike were having their own contest.

Up ahead I heard someone shout “Look out, lead runners” so I shifted over to the left and saw them approaching. To my absolute delight, there was Akkeal in third looking cool and comfortable and going at a heck of a pace. Go Daddies! I thought. I made the turn myself and didn’t take water as I tend to choke on it and headed back down the route, passing others coming the other way.

As the route dropped down, I headed down the short hill past where we’d started and onto the trail bit leaving 3K to go. This part was quite flat and again fell quite dark as the leaves took the light. Here I noticed that the course had changed since last year and I thought great, they’ve taken out the steps. They hadn’t (lol). The final K was a shock to my legs as we picked our way through some steps cut into the hillside. Up and down they went and I could feel it in my upper thighs and then I heard that joyous sound of a public address system welcoming home runners a short distance away who were crossing the line. I have expected to see a downhill finish like last year but instead, I picked out the blow-up finishing gantry set in the woods and thought YES!, I’m at the finish.

Crossing the line, I saw Akkeal first then Shaun then Paul and Rick welcoming me back. A few minutes later, Frankie, Liam, Steve and Mike broke the ‘lets finish together pact’ and went for a sprint finish. Spectators just saw a yellow blur cross together. I’ll leave it to those concerned to tell me who finished first!

The news of the night though was that Akkeal had secured third. The last time I came third was at scouts but then there were only three of us! Now Akkeal has only been running with us for about 4 months and if he’s third now, start to think where he’ll be when the university has him training with them. I’m sure they’re all after his signature but for now, the transfer fee will have to wait as he is ours!

We all assembled beneath the trees for photos. I was sweating profusely. Janet put up her umbrella.

The Daddies Effect

Have you ever been driving somewhere and when you arrive, you can’t quite remember how you got there?
Now I’m not sure why that is but it resonates with my experiences of running with Daddies Escape. Once, running was something I thought I should be doing; to keep fit, to stave off middle aged spread and to prevent the onset of problems associated with ageing. Like driving, I don’t quite know how I got here.

I’m now addicted and in a good way. I don’t need counselling (in denial?) and I weigh less than I did 10 years ago. My resting heart rate is about 40 bpm and in a recent MOT at the hospital, a cardiologist convinced himself that he thinks he should be doing more to keep fit! I feel fitter, stronger and generally happier. If I’m beginning to feel moody, my wife will throw my trainers into the porch and say “Go for a run”, safe in the knowledge I’ll come back in a different and better mood. 

I can’t quite put my finger on it but the Daddies Escape recipe has all the right ingredients to improve you as a runner. You start as a jogger but become a fully fledged runner; and in a very short time. There is no such thing as a bad time or a poor run, just heaps of encouragement from people who know how hard it is to get going as they’ve all been through it. Can’t make a run due to home or work commitments? That’s fine as they all have this at some time (apart from Shaun and Liam!) They’ll just be happy to see you next time. 

Chuck in the variety of runs, the post-run diet of coffee and of course the sought-after club shirt and you’ll be on your way to your first race before you know it. 

In between all this, your phone will buzz 50 times a day as your WhatsApp messenger alerts you to posts from the group members (‘The Daddies’) with the latest race news, training run plans and proposed meet ups, car-sharing for races and occasionally, if you would like to buy a tie. 

Interested, just get in touch and come out for a run with us. You’ll be really glad you did. 

Scorton 10K

Article by Peter Gough

Daddies Escape entered 7 runners into this event. Meeting at 7:30 am at McDonalds in Denton, we all had porridge and jam, washed down with a coffee before dropping onto the motorway for the hours drive to a little village outside Preston sharing two cars. Frankie, Liam and I went in Frankie’s beamer, following Steve’s bright yellow Citroen DS with Rick, Shaun and Akkeal as passengers.

Arrival

We arrived early in the beautiful and picturesque village of Scorton and watched it waken around us in an unhurried calm where everyone seemed to know just what to do without any fuss. Bedecked in bunting that spanned the streets, the village 10K race coincided with a festival where a classic car show, medieval re-enactment society and a blend of local foods and beers were being readied in the nearby parks for the day. We found some free parking near the church on top of the hill and ambled down to the primary school to collect our race numbers. Rick, by chance was allocated number 118 and spurned a swathe of jokes for the rest of the day. Smaller races like this hold their own charm where you have local people engaging with community events for the general good of the village. The proceeds from the entry fees would feed back into the community.
Everyone was welcoming and kind and we did a little exploration before heading to the end of the kids race. It’s great to see such young kids getting a taste of running and feeling the buzz of approaching the finish line applauded and encouraged by complete strangers. Liam found some Bakewell Tart Flapjacks in the local shop that went down a treat.
 As usual at races, it seemed the right thing to do to make use of the local ‘facilities’. Steve entered trap two and shut the door; emerging a few minutes later with a dead canary in a cage and a general look of ‘we won’t be doing any further mining today’. Two nearby lady runners pulled up their bandana’s over their mouths to reduce the effect. We knew Steve was a good runner but also being a potions wizard was a surprise; as was the ‘Whispering Death’ he left for others to sample.
 
This was a 10K but with a field limit of 300. Later we would find that a total of 144 runners took part. We returned to the cars to ‘gear-up’, donning our Daddies Escape shirts and applying ‘Deep Heat’ to legs.

Time to get warmed-up

Liam led the warm-up with his usual ball-of-string route which has a start and an end but goes everywhere to get there. Down into the village and back up to the church then down again, settling in the local play-park where Rick decided to crawl through a concrete pipe to check there was nobody he had missed to swap numbers with.
We met some other runners and chatted with Susan Plant from Warrington who is a keen runner and cyclist; accompanied by Alan Talbot. We stretched and loosened up before heading up to the start which could be loosely described as the centre of the village where four lanes met. The race director called us to the start, announcing that the race would get underway on the toot of a car horn on the lead car.

We’re off!

The lead car duly tooted and we were off. Akkeal, Steve and Shaun headed to the front and I stayed with Liam and Frankie, Rick somewhere inbetween. The race route took us back out of Scorton on Factory Road before a sharp left just after the first mile marker taking us over the River Wyre and just north of Cleveleymere. Entering a nice wooded area, we negotiated an undulating (<there’s that word again) track that presented a leg-sapping incline just before the 3 mile mark, levelling out near Forton Services, instantly recognisable by its hexagonal concrete tower and remembered as the second motorway services after Charnock Richard to open on the M6 in 1965. We turned left again and headed south down Hollins Lane before taking another left just after four miles to close the loop and start to bring us back home to the start.
It was here that my doubts set-in. It was only my second race wearing a base-layer. My first time was Wigan Half Marathon some weeks before where I’d had to stop and take it off after burning up. Same here. Just after 4 miles, with sweat streaming down my head, I pulled up and ripped the damn thing off, instantly feeling the benefit. However, the damage was done and I struggled to find any consistency on the couple of miles back. As my top was off and I needed to ‘download excess fluid’, I just chose the nearest tree and decided to water it. From behind my I heard ‘Ay up Pete’ and turned (although not too far!) to see Susan Plant run by. I guess this is one advantage of having our names across the backs of our shirts. The next stages took us through a local farm and then back down the nasty hill we’d encountered on the way up. I eventually mustered some energy to kick-on for the finish but glancing at my Garmin showed 48 something and I was a little annoyed with myself. All the ‘daddies’ were there though to cheer me on through the finish. On arrival, I found that Akkeal had got second place in only his second competitive 10K and the first honours for the group, pipping the third place runner by just three seconds.
We met up at the end again with Susan and Alan who had both won their categories and would be collecting their prizes later. Then we found out that Shaun had also topped his category and added further glory. Everyone else had managed PB’s but I’d have to wait for another event to try for mine.
The results were up more or less instantly thanks to the Webscorer service that had been used to record the times. Full results here

Relaxing

The race entry fee included a bacon butty and a hot drink so we set-off to find them, wandering back to the centre of the village before realising we’d walked past it when we’d left the finish area. We sat with Alan and Susan again and chatted generally about running, races and Strava. 118-Rick set about adding everyone he’d missed before the race. Now Scorton is a little village and we were approached by a charming young lady selling raffle tickets, explaining that ‘Glamping’ experiences could be won in the local area. Frankie asked if she took Apple Pay. She allowed for a pause to consider if this was a real question before replying with ‘Do I look like I take Apple Pay?’.
The race director called everyone to the local primary school where prizes were given out. Shaun and Akkeal stepped up to receive their prize ‘boots’ then Frankie bought a load of pink Scorton 10K shirts, with Rick remarking to Susan that it would ‘make a good nightie’. Never one to miss an opportunity our Rick 😉 We returned to the cars and headed back to Manchester with another race behind us and the hope that the little village of Scorton had enjoyed having us.

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Winner video

Race times

Akkeal: 38:12.9 – 2nd overall
Shaun: 41:53.4  – V50 category winner
Steve: 44:16.9
Frankie: 44:40
Rick: 44:59.3
Liam: 45:40.8
Pete: 48:28.4

The Three Legged Races: Isle of Man Easter Festival of Running

Article by Shaun Chambers

Daddies Escape are a relatively small group of runners from the Tameside area of Manchester and we train together weekly and race most, or every-other weekend. We all have kids and collectively recognise that we won’t always be able to get out together so we maintain regular contact via a WhatsApp group.

I’m a native of the Isle of Man and chose the festival as an opportunity to combine my love of running with a timely trip back home with wife Sami for a weekend break, staying at the luxurious Shore Hotel in Gansey. Two weeks before, fellow group runner Rick Lee decided to throw his hat into the ring and join me on all three races, to share the car and see some of the world, staying at the Falcon’s Nest Hotel in Port Erin.

And we’re off ..

Our trip began late on the Thursday night before Easter, setting off around 10:15 pm to get the 2:15 am sailing from Heysham to Douglas aboard the legendary named Ben-my-Chree ferry. The crossing was silky smooth and somewhat devoid of other runners with most probably already there, staying the extra night.

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Good Friday

We docked in Douglas at 5:30 am and with hotel check-in still a good few hours away, decided to kill some time and load up on food at a local cafe. It was here, we’d discover that Manx toast is a thing to behold. Thickly cut and a meal in itself. As we had travelled through the night, sleep had been a bit of an afterthought so I decided to get my head down to recharge the batteries but could only manage 90 minutes before I was up again in race mode, looking forward to the start at 6:45 pm.

We left in plenty of time to drive over to Port Erin to meet Rick, who had also had a short nap. On arrival, it was a gorgeous mild April evening with clear skies and  perfect for running the first of the three races organised by Manx Harriers; the mixed 10K Road Race. It’s only when you arrive that you realise this isn’t your average 10K. There is a strange sort of ‘Monty Python’ feel to it where, on one hand you have a real elite field of serious runners, punctuated with the occasional person painted blue with a 12″ rubber knob on his head (let’s call him ‘D*ckhead for now!).

It’s only when you arrive that you realise this isn’t your average 10K!

In most 10K’s, these would be slow charity runners raising money but no, they are also very capable runners who aren’t there just to make up the numbers. It’s also when you realise that this festival is steeped in history. Just checking the website results takes you back to 1972 where just 144 people competed the festival and on closer reading, you notice the large number of universities that are represented. This hasn’t changed to this day as there is a general feeling of ‘Freshers Week’ where everyone is determined to do something crazy but all good natured and very competitive. Amongst these younger students are some ‘older’ runners who may have been previous students and just can’t stay away! On arrival, some students were already loading up on energy drinks, or ‘beer’ as they call it.

Arriving at the 10K, some students were already loading up on energy drinks, or ‘beer’ as they call it.

This was a theme that was continue through the festival and soon, the rumours of the 29-pint man would start to emerge. To have all these fun, competitive people in one place was fabulous and for a race series that does not even advertise or offer a medal. I bumped into Festival Director Chris Quine who is a very approachable and friendly guy and asked him about this. He said that he believed the “memories you take away with you of the festival are far more important than a memento”. Like vintage Champagne, the festival is built on reputation rather than advertising.

“Memories you take away with you of the festival are far more important than a memento” : Chris Quine (Festival Director)

The 10K race got under way on time, catching the last of the daylight on a route that can be described as undulating, which as we all know is a race organisers word for hills. There seemed to be a sort of ‘animal theme’ going on where the fancy dress costumes all seemed to be wildlife-related. Even for me, a native of the island where I have lived and worked and still have family, the scenery was just stunning and thoughts of ‘should I come back’ returned again and again. I did 41:30 and Rick did 46:39 with the winner Michael Christoforou from Edinburgh University romping home in 30:39, some 30-odd seconds ahead of second place. Amazing stuff and again a demonstration of the running talent in attendance here at the festival.

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After the race, we stayed and mingled with all the other runners before finding a chippy in Port Erin for a snack then onto Rick’s hotel, the Falcons Nest. Rick wasted no time getting a Magners but I settled on water. We finished the meal late on and I turned-in sometime in the early hours. Rick went onto another pub in Port Erin, ‘The Haven’, getting in around 1am.

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Easter Saturday

I opened the curtains on Saturday morning to reveal another glorious day and perfect conditions for the legendary ‘Peel Hill Race’ . A full-english was downed in preparation for the exertions to follow later in the day. Peel is about 11 miles from Douglas and the race is split into male and female events; the blokes doing 4 miles and the ladies doing three and starting at different times. See Dave Griffiths’ slideshow of the course here (LINK). It starts by the Manannan Museum on the quayside before a steep climb out of the quayside onto the hills above Peel. Again the place was absolutely buzzing and the students were again in fancy dress. If aliens would have landed there and then, they’d have been convinced the human race were a very strange bunch. Mankini Man (that must have chaffed mate!). Knob-head was there again and already students were loading up on drinks, this time shots; obviously afraid they may have some blood in their alcohol streams.

Despite the light-hearted nature, the race was seriously contested, proving that you can be quick and still be an absolute nutter. It seems that everyone is of the same frame of mind and completely committed to the occasion in the same way there is always a nice vibe to a pub on Christmas Eve. One of my brothers, Johnny came to watch. 

The Easter Festival of Running
The course was tough and challenging and I came home in 30.03 with Rick on 34:59. 10K winner Micheal Christoforou managed second, coming in 17 seconds after the winner Linton Taylor in a staggering 20:22. On the route, students were taking drinks again (shots this time!). We stayed for the ladies race to cheer them on as, apart from wanting to, it seemed the ‘done-thing’. In the run up to the festival, I’d had a calf-strain and felt it now so decided to take a dip in the medical seas of the island which actually did the trick and believe me, was as cold as any ice-bath!

Beats an ice-bath!
Some (students) decided to stick with tradition and do the 11 mile Peel-to-Douglas pub crawl, taking about 5 hours to cram in the alcohol. It’s here the rumours of the 29-pint man surfaced and legend tells that he’d had 10 pints before he started the race. No doubt a contender for ‘Student of the Year’ and a legend to all that study with him!

We favoured a more civilised route and as a thanks to Sami for holding all the gear over the past two days I took her for a meal to my brother Peters’ pub, The Grosvenor in Andreas which is on the TT course. We arrived at 7 and took a couple of hours over dinner before staying a few hours longer to catch-up with family news and to relax.

It was still an hours drive back to Gansey, call it an hour and a half after dropping off Rick in Port Erin. Sami and I eventually got our heads down around 2am.

Easter Sunday

Back home in Manchester, whilst some kids were probably onto their third chocolate egg, we tucked into porridge, coffee and orange juice to prepare for the final race, the 5K out and back road run from Douglas promenade. The separate mens and ladies races were an experimental idea this year but having raced this event last year, I much preferred it and gauging the responses on the running forums since returning home, is the preferred alternative of many others. I looked around and just took it all in again; the race was so well organised, well-signposted with excellent and quick timekeeping / results. I noticed Chris Quine again chatting to anyone and everyone, a real figurehead for the event and very welcoming and friendly.

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The route was flat, which was welcome after the hill race the day before and once again, there were some sights to behold including one wearing high-heels. I later heard from him (Duncan Ng) and he gave a great quote as to why he does it:

“I love overtaking people in heels. The reaction you get when they realise that is priceless!” : Duncan Ng

210 men contested this one. It must be mentioned again here the quality of the field. If this shows what university sports societies are producing then British Athletics is in really good condition. Rick finished in 21:44 with me a few minutes earlier on 19:41. Winner Micheal Christoforou stormed home in under 15 minutes, some 5 minutes ahead of second place Linton Taylor who had pipped him the day before on Peel Hill. In the ladies race, Manx Harrier Rachael Franklin took gold with 17:27, followed just 17 second later by Katy Hedgethorne of Cambridge.

After the race, a free chip-butty was on offer at the Outback Pub but we instead went to The Cafe in Douglas for some more thick toast and coffee. I joined Rick and Sami that evening back at the Outback for the start of the celebrations, and what a celebration. With all the running behind them, the competitors really let their hair down and partied like some something out of ‘National Lampoons’. Everyone was friendly and some were crazy but the whole night was awesome. Sami and I left around 11, leaving Rick who was nowhere near done. He finally dropped into bed just after 4am after a £35 taxi ride back to Port Erin.

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One for me, and me alone (Easter Monday)

I still had one run to do and this one was all mine. Having lived on the island for many of my years, I chose a recovery run that took me past my mums house to pay homage to her and for all the memories she had given me. The route took me around Port St. Mary and up my childhood street Seafield Road. That done, I set back and got my stuff ready for the trip back to Tameside, catching the 7:45 ferry from Douglas to Heysham.

What a wonderful weekend. Without a shadow of a doubt, I knew I would be back next year. Thanks to all the organisers, stewards and marshals; you’re all awesome and you’ve something special.

Daddies On Tour – A tale of two cities

April the 2nd will be a day long remembered in Daddies Escape. For Liam and Frankie, the shackles of a sub four-hour marathon were not just been broken, but shattered. At the other end of the M62, Shaun and Pete also smashed through their Half Marathon personal bests, Shaun emphatically so, carving up the roads of Merseyside in just 88 minutes.

The day was a long one for sure. At 6:45am,Shaun and I (Pete) had just left for Liverpool when we heard that Liam and Frankie were already pacing the streets of Manchester near Old Trafford, parked and ready to go with over 2 hours before the start. Now that’s dedication (oh, and making sure they had a decent and free parking space!).

IMG_5463The only bad part of the journey to Liverpool was that Shaun had to go and remind me that Everton had been beaten (again) by Liverpool the day before by three goals to one, just a couple of miles from where we ended up parking, in the shadow of the famous Liver Building.

Having not been for a while, I was really impressed with developments on the Pier Head; the former run-down riverfront has given way to modern yet respectful area that pays tribute to the most famous of bands ‘The Beatles’ with a great statue of the Fab Four walking towards the water, the Liver Building behind them. Eleanor Rigby would most definitely approve.

IMG_5475

In both Manchester and Liverpool, the start times were both at 9:00 am which I like as you still have the freshness of the morning although (save for a running disaster), we would be finished doing the Half before the heat of mid-day had managed to make itself known.

At 9am, the hooter went off and we were away in Liverpool, started by Ian Rush and Gary McAllister in Liverpool and in Manchester, the legendary Dr Ron Hill and Mara Yamauchi got everyone under way.

The Liverpool route meandered through the waterfront before bearing left to take us away from the river and on to local roads, Sefton and Otterspool Parks. Somewhere ahead, Shaun was having the race of his life. I tried to run my own race this time after learning from Wigan Half two weeks earlier where I’d been caught up in the occasion and gone off too quick. I found myself counting down from 100, one number every four steps and somehow this just worked for me. Running is not just physical, it’s seriously psychological and concentration does play a part for elites, good-for-age and fun runners alike. The training and dedication to get to the start line is where all the work is done; the event is just the end of it.

The weather played nice too. Scattered clouds allowed sunshine to break through regularly and a light wind rolled off the coast. The finish was flat and relatively straight back to the Liver Building. On approach, the ‘Beatles Story’ building which marked the end of the race loomed in the distance but never seemed to get any closer! Here came the cobblestones which are never met with pleasure from ANY runner made for a difficult couple of minutes, negotiating through the slower finishers on quite a narrow section. For all runners, you will know the absolute delight of seeing the finishing gantry and this was true here too. Never are the six letters of ‘Finish’ so welcome. I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin and dared look. I know it was better then Wigan but when I saw a 42 in the row of numbers, elation set in. Medal around my neck, I picked my way through the finishing pen to find Shaun who was clearly chuffed, having broken 1:30 by over a minute; a magnificent effort.

IMG_5488

On to Manchester …

We had agreed that we would try and get back to Manchester in time to cheer on Liam and Frankie who had all we’d just done to do again. The night before, they had both been worrying about finishing in 4h 30 but that was not to be, and how, as it would prove.

Armed with a McD’s coffee via a nearby drive-through, we jumped onto the M62 and tried to get as close to the finish line as we could via an impromptu petrol station fill-up as the Fiesta was close to empty. Having filled up, a short drive through Weaste and Trafford Park put us within touch of the race finish and we ditched the car opposite Old Trafford football stadium. A ten minute walk brought us to the finish line but getting a view would prove difficult as the streets were lined both sides, three-deep. We walked a couple of hundred metres down and found a space and peeled our eyes for the Daddies Escape tops of 8478 and 8479. Shaun and I were not sure how Liam and Frankie races were going so we consulted t’interweb which allowed live tracking and splits. We entered both numbers and found that they were both flying and were well-ahead of schedule which meant they would not be far away.

Liam was first to appear, obviously hurting yet tearfully emotional and proud to have ran such a great race. He saw us at the roadside and waved as the finish line grew closer. Shaun and I were stunned, with a predicted time of 4h 30, to smash it by 40 minutes is a minor miracle. Not to be outdone, just five minutes later and well within a four hour finish was Frankie. Also obviously hurting, he looked better than some we had seen at the finish. Some people were in a really bad way with one limping home and one who had buckled knees, flanked by two other runners just in case he was going to fall. This was all the inspiration Shaun needed to commit himself to a full marathon this year. This kind of relentless dedication that runners have to get over the line is amazing, truly amazing. They actually PAY for this but as they say, pain is temporary but glory is forever.

All-in-all, a VERY successful day for all Daddies Escape runners:


Final times

Liverpool Half Marathon

  • Shaun – 1:28:39 (PB)
  • Pete – 1:42:31 (PB)

Manchester Marathon

  • Liam – 3:51:58 (PB)
  • Frankie – 3:56:59 (PB)

Wigan Half Marathon

5 ‘Daddies’ ran this one; Liam, Shaun, Frankie, Rick and me (Pete). We all met at McDonalds in Denton at 7am to load up with coffee, porridge and jam (not together) before tapping Wigan into Speedy’s Sat Nav and heading off.

We arrived with about an hour to spare so we had a preamble to get a flavour of the place and to find out where the loos were! This would prove important. First impressions was that this was a very well organised (and therefore expensive to put on) event with lots of food stalls, a big stage with live bands on, police and a huge swathe of volunteers. We found the loo’s and I found that this would be the only race I would win today. I emerged from the blue cabin first, followed by Frankie, then Liam, then Shaun, then ……, then ……, Hmm? Where the hell is Rick? Rick eventually emerged to our applause, in what would have been a record-breaking time (for a marathon).

We’d parked about 400 metres away on Library Street, free on a Sunday which always makes things easier. We were in our ‘civvies’ and needed somewhere to get inside to get changed. How the heck Superman uses a phone box to get changed is beyond me as we spread out inside the Royal Arcade and emerged in full ‘DE” kit, ready to tackle the streets and park-paths of Wigan.

Time was getting on so we had a bit more of a ramble before heading back to the portaloo’s. Not to be outdone, Liam set about extending Rick’s previous time. To be honest, I think it would be a photo finish, albeit not a pretty one. Time to get rid of the bags (no, we hadn’t managed to pick up any loose women); we were directed to Wigan Life Centre which was, by sheer coincidence, next to where we’d parked so we stowed our stuff away in Frankie’s car. We jogged up Library Street again and took a left to warm up on Wallgate. We cut down the side of Wallgate Station before turning sharp right as Frankie needed the loo again. Maybe, as he was in a strange town, he just wanted to leave his scent? Anyway, on to the start …

On your marks …

They opened the pens at about 9:10 am and everyone ambled down, setting their Garmin’s and the like in anticipation for the start. Following a mass ‘JoiningJack’ salute, we were counted down from 10 and then we were off. Shaun was out the blocks like Usain Bolt and, but for a yellow blur at about 10 miles, was all I saw of him. I ran with Frankie and Liam for the first bit while I tried to find my stride. The race was on closed roads that were well marshalled and punctuated with eager support from the Wigan locals who had turned out in numbers to cheer everyone on. The opening 6 or so miles were quite flat, taking in the sponsor ‘HW Moon Toyota‘ and Dave Whelan’s empire: the huge distribution warehouse and of course the DW Stadium that is home to Wigan Athletic football team and Wigan Rugby team. Free admission was available to all runners for that afternoon’s rugby game between Wigan and Huddersfield. A nice touch that but kicking off at three would have meant a long wait for us.

The route tracked back to near the start and took us down Library Street AGAIN where we passed our parked cars. It was at this point that a slight drizzle began which partly cooled me down but I was still feeling rather hot. I knew Liam, Frankie and Rick were not far behind me as we negotiated the roads near Ince before turning left to join the canal. This was a straight section but dotted with little rises every 200 M or so where locks were to lift boats. It was at this point that I was really hot and I looked for a suitable place to get out of everyones way so I could remove my sub-layer. This took me 30 seconds or so as Frankie and Liam arrived. I managed to keep with them for about another mile as we entered Haigh Hall Country Park and the start of some hills into the woods.

This section was a bit ‘trailly’ if this even a word with a meandering path through a woods, emerging some time later at the top with wonderful views across the surrounding areas as we ran down the side of Haigh Hall before beginning the final descent (or so I thought!) towards the finish some two miles away. This downhill section was enjoyable as finally, all my ducks were lined up, I wasn’t burning up any more, the energy gel and water I’d took had kicked in and I was on final approach to the finish. All was well, until. Well, basically, someone had decided to throw in another hill at 12 miles! A right turn through a cutting took us up the steepest incline of the route. If this was not enough, the 1:45 pace runner passed me at this point. I’d have been happy with sub 1:45 but it was not to be.

We emerged from Haigh park opposite Wigan Infirmary. A considerate thought by the race organisers should anyone have needed A&E after the final hill! A left turn after the infirmary took us down the final descent and ‘flat bit’ to the finish. I really like town / city centre finishes as all the supporters really give you a boost when you most need it. I crossed the line, clapped on by the other ‘Daddies’ who had finished before me. Not my best but acceptable.

Hat’s off to Wigan. They put on a great show and the locals offered great support. We’ll be back next year. Just get the contractors in and flatten that hill at 12! 🙂

Times and data:

  • Shaun finished in 1:31:54 and was 6th of 103 in the V50 category.
  • Frankie finished in 1:42:45 and was 157th of 609 in the SNR category.
  • Liam finished in 1:42:57 and was 160th of 609 in the SNR category.
  • Rick finished in 1:43:57 and was 49th of 214 in the V40 category.
  • Pete finished in 1:46:38 and was 49th of 180 in the V45 category.

Gallery

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