Stage three is my nemesis! This event on the Sports Tours International ‘Tour of Tameside’ is the penultimate stage and asks a little more of the runner. A 13.1 flat(ish) run just 12 hours after finishing the punishing Hell on the Fell the night before.
The 9:30 start on a weekend allowed us ample time to meet up at McDonalds in Hyde for porridge and coffee, and to exchange a breakdown of ailments and injuries that we had sustained. Personally, my toes were taking a hammering!
We arrived in Padfield to overcast skies and again, it was evident that there were many more contestants this year. I’d travelled with Liam and it didn’t take long to pick out the Daddies Escape luminous tops.
Runners are a social bunch and at any event, it’s always good to arrive early to meet up for a chat to put faces to names you only usually see on Strava.
Liam, Mark, Shaun and me decided to have a short warm up, using the hilly access road to see what was in our legs. Some had plenty left, some were feeling a bit worn.
Following the run in memory of PC Nicola Hughes, we assembled in the starting pen before ‘Voice of The Tour’ Louise Croombs from Tameside Radio counted us down from 5.
The first half mile is wonderful, all downhill until you get into Hadfield. A left turn takes you uphill past Mettricks Butchers (a familiar place for those who have ever watched ‘A League of Gentlemen’). After the hill, you drop onto the Longendale Trail which as a group we often run on a Sunday morning. We’ve ran this in sunshine, fog and snow over the year but as a tour stage it is better as it is full of runners.
Soon after joining the trail, I ran alongside Ricky Lee and about 30 seconds later he took a tumble to the ground injuring his knee and left hand. (I didn’t trip you Rick, honestly)
The Hero Half is half mental, half physical and I had half of both.
I was feeling heavy legged after about 3 miles and knew I’d have to carry them another 10. I was hot and took on too much water despite knowing not to over hydrate. I’m not sure about everyone else but I was soon peppered with flies, sticking to my sweaty skin. Just after 6 miles I saw the lead runners coming back; not a bead of sweat and going at an amazing pace. I saw Mark, Andy, Steve and Shaun go flying past looking strong, then Liam. The turnaround at about 7.5 miles was a welcome sight and from previous experience, I knew that going back would be slightly downhill. I saw that Frankie and Minty were close, followed by Craig, Paul and Becky.
I looked at my Garmin and I was doing 8:20/8:30 per mile pace but it felt a lot slower. The field was well spaced by this time and large gaps had opened up between the runners.
The return leg was a little better for me but Frankie and Minty passed me with a mile or two to go.
I saw the bridge signalling the end of the trail and followed the short track up to Rough Field and the sight of the finishing gantry.
I crossed the line and grabbed a fist full of jelly beans which were manna from heaven. I went back and got another handful of jelly babies!
We waited until all the Daddies had come in, cheering each and every one across the line. A little post-race nattering was had before we all departed as the weather was a bit cooler and a few of us were feeling the cold.
Shaun drove me back home with Frankie in the passenger seat. Sat in the back with me was the race winner Mohammed Abu Rezeq who, despite one race to go was already talking about Wilmslow Half the Saturday after.
Altogether another great event and enjoyed by all the Daddies.
Favourable weather again blessed this event. A cooler evening with occasional sun breaking through. This was day two of The Daddies favourite race series from Sports Tours International, the Tour of Tameside.
This event in all honesty is the one you start to think about much earlier in the day. You know those hills are there and hope your legs can do your training some justice.
Again, we arrived an hour early to get parked up and gather for a natter. We’re not unique in this respect and many other clubs such as Mosley assemble in large numbers early before runs. Like the night earlier, the start is about half a mile away from the meeting place, set on a road crossing a dammed reservoir.
In cars driving around you often miss the splendour of the scenery of Tameside which is quite stunning in places but on foot, you can fully enjoy it.
We’d positioned ourselves quite far back for this one from the start line and it took a bit to get across the start line after the starter gave the order to go.
The first mile is deceiving as it’s a steady downhill section back past the closed roads near the Copley Centre. Your legs seem to say “Well this isn’t so bad” then you take a left and look ahead to see a ribbon of tarmac curling up, up and away into the clouds. Time to dig in. I managed to run all the way up the hill, taking small steps and pacing myself carefully. I saw Ricky ahead and managed to catch him then the same with Paul Neal before you reach an open flat section which allows you some respite before the next hill where, just after the pub at the top of The Cuttings and while I was feeling good about myself, Frankie burned up past me looking strong.
He’s really good on hills is our Frankie!
The roads give way to a track around the 3 mile mark and undulate for a while before a left turn takes you up a grassy incline to the promise of some water which is most welcome. The relief of water is somewhat short lived as you turn right and begin another climb. Minty passed me here looking strong too but I just hoped I could regain my place when it levelled out.
When I used to go walking with my dad in the Lake District, he always promised me the summit was the one I could see until you got on top of it then saw another higher one some distance away; same here but that’s why it’s a Fell Race and it’s a good test for anyone.
Once you get to the rocky bit and climb over the styal, the descent into Copley begins as you set yourself for a landing without a crash. Just staying on your feet is a challenge. Here runners bunch up as you pick your foot holes carefully and try to stop your momentum from causing a tumble. About a mile out, the gradient shallows as you get you gear down for final approach. This is my favourite bit and I found something in my legs for what I think was a strong finish.
Coming through the farm, I saw Minty and decided to have a sprint. Something stung me on the right thigh just here; either a bee or a wasp but I swished it away. I luckily had enough in the tank to keep me ahead as the sound of the PA grew louder. I crossed the line in 53.50 and saw the Daddies assembled near the water bottles.
We waited until we’d welcomed everyone back then had a photo taken together.
Everyone seemed to have the same idea about getting home to bed in prep for tomorrow’s Hero Half Marathon. Well most of us did, Liam just wanted to get home to watch Love Island 😂
We welcomed our new team member and shirt sponsor Craig Banks of PrintCity and presented him with his Daddies Escape shirt.
We’d assembled a fair number of competitors for this one and all through the day we’d been bouncing WhatsApp messages about it in the build up. Shaun was interviewed by Tameside Radio near the start (pic above)
We met up about 6:15 to hand out our new shirts sponsored by PrintCity and they all looked great on. We’d had 27 printed the day before but as the eventual race winner Mo had travelled with us (and had the car key) we couldn’t get back into the car to get them but they’ll have them for tomorrow.
After a lazy trot down to the start area, it dawned that the field was much larger than last year. Shaun gave an interview to the roving reported from the Tameside Reporter. The TDL timings would later confirm that 532 people took part.
The race itself went great for me personally and after tackling the hill near the start, I settled into a comfortable pace, trying to be sensible knowing what I would be running over the next four days. The vegetable lasagne I’d had lunch was paying off (oh and the jam doughnut I had before I left home). The first hill is not too bad after you’ve ran it a few times and the sound of people rattling cowbells and cheering is great.
I’d set off with Liam but he’s way too quick to keep up with nowadays so I watched him pull away ahead of me. Up front, Andy, Steve, Shaun and Mark were carving up the course chasing Mo.
The course then settles out on the path where I got my breath back and opened my stride.
I always try and make the effort to thank all the marshals as I run past. I liked the bunting and K markers this year.
There’s a loop-back around 5K where the lead runners come back past you and you get fleeting opportunities to cheer your team-mates on. Not long after, I dropped down the little hill and under the bridge for a nice downhill section that leads you back near the start and into the park. The surface changes to dirt then a really nice section along the water before heading to the step section.
It’s here that a little experience helps and I used something I picked up from Tony Hillier about how to handle hills – steady but don’t stop.
My favourite part is when you hear the PA system which signals you’re close to the finish. As I entered the woods, it was bathed in a strange red glow as the LED clock lit up the woods where the evening light was waning.
I crossed the line in 48:27 (48:06 chip) and saw my hero Dr Ron Hill and shook his hand (legend). Of course, many of our team had finished way before me but we always stay until every one of our runners are over the line. Cue photos, handshakes and race reviews then a slow amble up the hill. A time for reflection here when I felt good; no aches or pains and intact for Friday. On the walk back to the car my wife phoned saying she’d had no tea and fancied some chips. I’d not wanted any until that point but you need carbs right? 😂
A great night all round and the perfect start to the perfect race series; the Tour of Tameside. Friday weather is looking cooler so that’s fine by me. Looking forward to meeting all the ‘Daddies’ on Friday evening.
Well this was the one we’d all been aiming towards and knew it would be a test. Some would be chasing PB’s and others making their debut’s over the 26 miles 385 yards. Now in its fourth year, it’s becoming a popular event in the race calendar. Well organised, well marshalled and despite the large field, friendly.
The build-up to the event had been gradual, with all of us upping the distances in training runs over the two months previous. However, on the eve of the race, we still had to organise transport over the Chester on the last minute and where we were going to meet. We took three cars. Shaun, Liam, Frankie and Shaun in one, Andy, Rick and me in another and Steve and Will in the last one with the aim of meeting at the Pepper Street NCP but that changed a bit. On arrival, we found out why the CEO of NCP has a £51M yacht, finding the £16.20 parking fee a little bit of a piss-take to occupy 8 square meters for 6 hours. I suppose it will pay for a half bottle of champagne but I for one sincerely hope he chokes on it.
While we were there, we found someone in the car park coming back from a rave …
You’d think that arranging to meet in the McDonalds in Chester City centre would be straight forward but thanks to their gradual takeover of the entire world, McDonalds occupied 6 sites and 5 more than is actually needed. Of course, we ended up in different ones. I called Liam.
“We’re in the McDonalds near Boots”,
“So are we..”,
“Oh right, are you upstairs or downstairs?”,
“Downstairs at the front”
“So are we”
We were downstairs at the front too but in different parts of the City. It was like a Scooby Doo cartoon where every 100 metres you had McDonalds, Boots, Starbucks, Pret. Liam ran down to meet us and we all walked up to join them. There was no Steve or Will at this point and we later found that they had gone straight to the racecourse to park so we’d meet them later after coffee and porridge.
We were only 10 minutes from Chester Racecourse and had a wander down, stopping for the usual photo of one of us sat on something. At the Sheriff 10K, we were sat on a tractor, here, we found the thing the tractor replaced, a horse (or did someone actually call it a cow?) Rick wrapped his legs round and mounted it (old habits die hard).
When we got to the racecourse, all the action was down the other end. The centre field part of it was vacant due to the cancellation of car-parking after an overnight deluge had filled it with water. It was a good set-up with gazebos from clubs lining the finishing furlong. We dropped off our stuff at Hyde Striders who were very kind letting non-striders park their stuff there too before we ‘saddled-up’ ready for the start. It wouldn’t be long before we’d be ‘jockeying’ for position at the start and ‘get the bit between our teeth’ [Editors note: Quit with the horse-racing puns, now!] [Erm sorry … 😐 ]
We’d timed it quite nice and the sun broke through the clouds as we assembled at the start pens. I thought this was really well managed as their were barriers, but set apart so you could waltz into your pen without having to climb over or around something like so many other races.
…and 385 yards
Mrs Pete had been baking
Frankie vandalised everyone
Rick set a reminder
Whilst on the start line, someone shouted, “Hey, you’re Daddies Escape” and had a photo with us. He was Carl and knew Susan Plant, friend of Daddies Escape and someone we regularly bump into at races.
Ready for the off
Ready to go
Oo er missis!
We’d positioned ourselves in realistic pen positions. Steve and Andy went up front, chasing 3:15. My own PB was 3:51:19 at Edinburgh, set two days after getting married on the way up at Gretna Green on the Friday but this was 2011 and of course I was 6 years older. However, I had a really strong feeling I’d break through it at this race. I’d been feeling good and 26 miles no longer felt like the enormous distance I once considered it to be. I wanted to stick to my race plan of 8.25 per mile but it unfolded somewhat different. Paul, Rick and Frankie held back a bit to push Paul on in his first marathon.
The horn blew signalling the start and we were off. The route took a snaking path through the city centre and after a few little hillocks, it levelled off under the famous arch. As I passed the shops I saw a McDonalds, a Boots, a Starbucks and a Pret. Then again. The field opened up quickly and there was plenty of room to run. I was with Shaun and Liam and we set a decent pace. It was here that the 8:25 miles went south as we were going too fast. Every few hundred metres, Liam would pull ahead like a naughty dog on a lead and I had to keep reminding him to slow down and stick to the plan. Liam and Shaun were looking strong as around the 14 mile point I knew I could not maintain it and to risk trying may scupper my plan. I took a drink and purposely allowed a distance to get between us so they (hopefully) didn’t feel duty bound to wait for me.
Every few hundred metres, Liam would pull ahead like a naughty dog on a lead and I had to keep reminding him to slow down and stick to the plan…
Frankie managed to capture a mid-race run picture with Minty.
Up front, Steve and Andy were pushing each other on and flying. The 3:15 was on!
Anyone who’s run a marathon knows the work is done in your head. If you convince yourself you can do it, you will and vice-versa. You run the numbers through your head at every mile marker, working out what you need to do to get the time you want. It is very dynamic as so many factors contribute to this; food, drink, weather, preparation, health, state of mind but there is something really evident in this group; we just don’t quit. Now here’s a point. If someone was to quit in a race, I don’t know one of us who would find that a problem but somehow we just don’t. Its like an unwritten rule and we get each other through.
As I went through 23 miles, my legs were sore and I reached for my final gel, only to find that it had fallen out somewhere behind me. I knew all I had left was a blister pack with two Ibuprofen in. I grabbed a water and got them down me and within a mile, the pain in my legs had gone. Now I’m not in the least religious but when the rain started to come down, I began to wonder as this, together with the Ibuprofen set me up for a good finish.
Now I’m sure this would not get through any IOC urine tests but it damn works for me! Around mile 24, I saw Liam and Shaun up ahead as we approached the hill I’d been warned about. When I got to them, Shaun was looking very pale and I asked him how he was. He considered a suitable response and as tiredness gave way, he just added, “I’m f*cked, proper f*cked but Liam has been amazing”. Liam showed true captains leadership as he had stopped to allow Shaun to catch up then gee’d him up to the finish [Editors note: I said leave the horse jokes out]. This captain was not going to leave a marine on the beach.
As mentioned in previous blog posts, writing about it is quite tricky as it can be a blur and unfortunately only puts across my views of my race. I have to admit that on a few occasions in the later miles, I had to stop and walk to get a breather and recharge. Strava doesn’t lie and my cadence chart in the final third look likes an ECG from a schizophrenic.
When you run a race in a town that’s unfamiliar to you, it is really nice to recognise the little bits you do know as these indicate you’re somewhere near where you started and therefore near the end. After the dreaded 25 mile hill, we turned left down into the city centre streets and under the viaduct which opened out into Chester Racecourse and the finishing line was in sight. It was here that I took the whip to my hind quarters [Editors note: LAST TIME!!]. It was here where I felt the glory and with spectators lining the finish, I pushed on through the finish.
I collected my goodies and left out the back of the finishing area to find Andy, all wrapped up in foil like a Christmas turkey, freezing in the rain. Andy and Steve had smashed it and come in under 3 hours 14 minutes so he’d been stood there for over half an hour. To do what I’d done in 30 minutes less is like witchcraft for me and just don’t know how its done. Some 4 minutes later, I caught Shaun and Liam cross the line together. Shaun was VERY pale and had taken on too much fluid in the last couple of miles. Having safely negotiated his way through he finish, we made for the Striders tent where we found respite from the rain and a seat for Shaun. Not exactly the right time to shove some Mars Bar Cake in his face but we all managed to see it off, together with Mrs Pete’s ‘Daddies Flapjack’. Next in came Rick, followed by Frankie then Minty. Like most of us on our first marathon, completing it is a real clusterf*ck of emotions – tired, proud, worn, “Never again”, then the emerging trickle of a thought — “I have just ran 26, yes, TWENTY SIX miles”. Paul needed a few minutes to compose himself but we were hurt. Personally, when I took off my trainers, it looked like an abattoir’s floor and my toes were totalled.
While we gathered our gear, we heard of a Guinness world record being broken for people running as a horse [Editors note: I’m warning you ….].
As we walked back to the car, we heard a rumbling from Shaun behind us and like lava rising up through Mount Etna, it eventually erupted into a stream, accompanied with suitable sound effects. If you watch to 3 mins 38 of [this video], Shaun makes this EXACT noise when he hurls!
We had all arranged to meet the same evening, to spend some time socially with our families and I think the night went down well. Great company and great to have us all together. From humble beginnings, the Daddies Family is now enormous. The following pictures capture the evening more perfectly than words could.
Message from the Daddies
It was with great, great sadness that we learned the following day of the loss of a fellow runner in the Chester Marathon. A man my age, with three children and a wife, a keen runner and fundraiser. We never knew him but he had all the requirements to be one of us in Daddies Escape. I speak on behalf of all of us when we dedicate our efforts at Chester to Trevor Cording. Runner, father, husband. I would say rest in peace but runners don’t rest, they love anything but. We extend our sincere condolences to Trevor’s wife and family.
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.
As we wound our way north-east, daylight eventually enveloped us as we made our approach to South Shields.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
We pulled into McDonalds and loaded up with coffee and burgers for the trip back and returned to find Shaun asleep.
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).
Once home, I decided to have a lie-down so Janet took this photo which sort of went viral.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.