Various factors have contributed to the lateness of the blog this week. Apologies.
Helsby runners were in action at Delamere, Ellesmere Port, Warrington and Widnes parkruns. Full club results can be found below.
Well done all!!
Norton Priory 5 Mile
Next up is the much anticipated (especially by Degsy Morris for reasons that are best left unsaid!) Norton Priory 5 mile race. It was an excellent turn out by the Helsby crew, Rachael Holden has kindly included Dereks report in her own, ever so slightly better one, below.
The Norton Priory 5 Mile road race is a fast and flat run over a single loop on traffic managed roads. Starting and finishing at the historic Norton Priory Museum and Walled Gardens. The route takes in the surrounding areas on road and paths.
Norton Priory Race Report by the lovely Derek Morris
Turned up. Ran for 5 miles without any high 5’s got a goody bag, got off Oh and people got PB’S….now on to my report
Having trained on the route for the past 4 weeks, thanks to Roy and Joanne and improving my running times each week, I woke up feeling quite nervous on the morning of the race, but once meeting up with everyone we all seemed to feel the same which actually settled my nerves.
All 10 of the Green army met up and we all started off together at the front of the race line. Weather conditions were foggy but not too cold for an early morning run. As the race started I soon realised this was going to be a fast paced race. I managed to keep Michael, Adele and Roy in my sight for the first mile but Colin, Derek, Joanne, John and Ian where soon off on a super speedy pace and well out of sight before leaving Tudor road.
The route was very well marshalled and had a very good atmosphere. I had a lovely friendly man who was about 7 foot tall and looked like a body builder tagged onto me for the first 2 miles and within those 2 miles I felt I had known him my whole life! (haha) He then left me to talk to a few men just in front to which I have to say I was secretly glad about as anyone who has ran with me at my fast pace will know the best response they will get is a high pitched ‘yes or no’….
The course is a really nice 5 mile route which is mainly flat with a few inclines and I nice little hill towards the end which I think surprised us all!! I for one am glad the Norton Priory run has been such a success as without all the training Roy arranged, I certainly wouldn’t have got my PB and I think I speak for everyone in saying this, so big thank you to Roy.
Here is a list of everyone’s times from the race
Colin Bishop – 29:04 well done on winning your prize
Derek Morris – 30:26
Joanne Lacking – 33.12
Ian Hamling – 34:09
John Rossiter – 35:17
Roy Gaskill – 36:54
Michael Williams – 37:21
Rachael Holden – 39:53
Gill Fitzpatrick – 45:12
Saturday saw the Green Army at Clarke Gardens for the opening Liverpool and District Cross Country League. Darren O’Connor sent in this report.
A crisp and foggy morning greeted the large crowd of runners at Clarke Gardens for the opening Sunday race of the Sunday x country season. A decent number of Helsby mob (11 I think) took to the starting line to tackle the 5 mile race. The course consisted of 2 and half laps which included grass, woods, rolling hills, tree stumps and most of all mud! It was a tough run and I was surprised to see a few club runners pull out along the way (none from the green army though!!) I like to think the shouts of encouragement from Joe and Mario from random places helped get the team round!
The results were not out at the time of writing but I know Fitzy romped home first for Helsby despite being on the all inclusive on his jollies all week!
Being my first ever attempt at x country I didn’t know what to expect but glad I tried it out. It was slippy and the muddy patches busted my legs but it was really fun and a nice change from the roads. I will definitely be doing more of these and would advise everyone to give it a go! If nothing else it’s a good excuse to buy some new cross country spikes and who doesn’t love new runners.
Clwydian Hills Fell Race
The Felsby contingent were in Wales on Saturday in the Clwydian Hills, Jim Jones sent in this report.
It was a great turn out for Helsby at Cilcain on Sunday for the Clwydian Hills Fell Race. Nine Helsby vests ran the tough 8 mile+ route with nearly 3000ft of climb in amazingly sunny weather for the 1st day of November. Many people travelling from the Chester area will have been surprised by the stark change of conditions as they drove out of thick fog, into North Wales and glorious sunshine. The conditions made for fantastic views as we ran along the Clwydian Way towards the foot of Moel Arthur and then turned back with a tough climb up Moel Dywyll and into blinding sunlight. That seemed a particularly tough climb knowing that that we still had to drop back down into the valley and then up the infamous gully to Moel Famau. Despite the glorious sunshine there was still plenty of slippy mud to negotiate on the way back down to Cilcain.
All in all a good turn out to the Felsby calling. A special well done to Gaz for running his first (of many?) fell race. He did get his road running fix with a brief six mile road run beforehand! Jane Ashbrook was the Felsby ladies representative – well done Jane! And also praise to photogenic Charlie Roberts for becoming the cover picture of the Clwydian Hills Race and the Helsby FB page – who wouldn’t be convinced by seeing Charlie that fell running is fun?
Jim O’Hara was first home for Helsby with a fantastic time of 1:33:17 and 16th overall out of the 149 who finished the race.
Full Helsby placing as follows:
16th Jim O’Hara 1:33:17
30th Ben Fletcher 1:40:40
51st Jim Jones 1:45:04
54th Phillip Roberts 1:45:48
70th Ian Houghton 1:52:07
82nd Jane Ashbrook 1:59:28
107th Roy Duffy 2:15:17
134th Gary O’Connor 2:39:12
137th Edward Charles Roberts 2:45:19
Lastly but certainly not least, Chris Baynham-Hughes’ amazing 100 mile race at the White Rose Ultra. Not only did he complete the distance but he did so finishing in 4th position!
Here’s the full report from Chris.
Run enough Ultras and DNFs become an occupational hazard. Having started running ultras in 2011 I’ve experienced two, both were attempts to run 105 miles and in both the heat of the race played a huge part. My record with heat is not great. At Transvulcania in 2013 I finished but ended up being given a drip due to excruciating cramps that were running up and down my body in waves, roughly 4 minutes on 1 minute off; I felt ridiculous then and still look back and think the same, but also in the knowledge that it was the best recovery drink I ever had!
I’ll make no secret about it, I’ve become a little obsessed about running UTMB following on from my attempt this year. It was the second time I’d attempted to run 100 miles – the first (the Lakeland 100 – actually 105 miles) I chose to stop at 90 miles, a decision I’ve never regretted, why? Well it’s a long story and one I can bore you with on another day , but it involved a week of food poising, unusually hot weather and some extreme chaffing. My second attempt was at UTMB; this time I managed 80 miles before the extreme conditions resulted in heat stroke.
I’d be lying if I said that DNF at UTMB hasn’t played on my mind ever since. Determined to enter again and finish, I looked to see if I had enough points to enter again and was aghast to see I was 3 short. Since it took me 3 attempts to get in last time I didn’t want to miss a year to apply, a quick review of UK races between now and the opening of the ballot showed I had one option; the 100 mile White Rose Ultra worth the maximum 4 points. I will confess that I wasn’t keen to run that far, but starting in Golcar near Huddersfield… in November… the heat can’t get me this time right?
The WRU100 is made up of a 10 mile start and three 30 mile loops (there is a 30 mile option and a 60 mile option too), Whilst this makes it logistically easy, it is a nasty course psychologically; getting out to start another loop is difficult and is comparable to running the sandstone trail from Whitchurch to Frodsham, turning around and running back, finding your car won’t start so you need to turn back once again to get home…. Oh, but it’s got more hills.
As always I set off too fast running with a friend I met at the Highland fling in 2014. Kirk is a great company and a great runner (he has sponsorship from Salomon) so we took it out and ran together for 30 miles before I decided to ease off a touch. I was struggling with my appetite and had packed too much sweet stuff which I now just didn’t fancy. Within a miles of splitting up I missed a sign and added in an extra 3 miles to the course – since there was no map it was a good job I had my phone so I could use the Sat Nav to point me in the right direction! Back on track I panicked as I saw a lone headlamp coming my way – the course is rather convoluted so I feared I’d ended up inadvertently ahead of Kirk, but I hadn’t and it was third place heading towards me. Phew!
Getting out on the second lap was easy. I was frustrated by adding the extra miles, but so glad I’d not cheated the course and now I was all business; a quick restock of food and I was off. Second time to the ‘bog of doom!’ (it was easy to get around) I settled into running on my own as the sun came up. The cloud inversion was simply stunning; the chill was lifting to a clear sky and those lovely long shadows you get through autumn – my favourite time of year to be running. The course in the day is beautiful, no, stunning. The tree colours were simply spectacular, bleak moorland shifted to stunning valleys and a real sense of journey; I think the 30 mile version would be a perfect race for those tempted to up their distance to an ultra.
Running on my own for long periods on an adventure such as this is a missed opportunity as well as tougher psychologically. I busied myself with music, but that didn’t stop me having a low that lasted roughly 30 miles. My legs were unusually tight and starting to get really sore; many people talk about the “pain” of endurance running, but I’ve never associated it with pain, only fatigue. This time it was pain. The week previous I’d had to drop out of the OMM as I was struggling to walk; a freak issue with my back had left me in so much pain I feared I’d herniated a disc, so just making the start line had been big for me. The stiffness in my lower back eased and I had no issues with it, but it clearly pulled on everything else causing me the issues I had… on my own… wondering why I’m doing this to myself… do I really care?… there’s no shame in stopping… I felt… low. Compounding all this was blistering heat – what is it with me and hot weather for hundred milers? I figured I was safe in Huddersfield in November, but I was getting seriously concerned about salt and sunburn!
I finally arrived at the event centre with 70 miles in me. Given my mood I had readjusted my plans (to quickly restock and move on) to have a sit down and a proper meal. I had been forcing food in but was struggling with the sweetness so not as much was going in as I would have liked. Dave Douglas from Delamere Spartans came to my rescue and acted as Geeves. Taking my box of pasta, heating it up and getting me somewhere to eat. I was pathetic. Head down as all the 30 mile people came in, looking like roadkill. I was desperate for sympathy, for acknowledgement, for anything really; nourish my ego, show me compassion, anything to get me going again, but instead I simply cut a desolate figure as I slowly worked my way through my food. Dave was fantastic; himself knackered he offered me words of encouragement, popping back to check on me whilst packing up his own stuff and trying to recover enough from his 30 mile run to go back and enjoy the rest of his birthday. I’ll not forget the support he gave me; Legend.
I finally got out, resigning myself to a 30 mile walk and a miserable one at that. I put on some Radio 4 programmes I’d recorded and didn’t feel quite so alone. Two guys caught me up whilst on their 60 and I tagged on, even running a little bit. Come up to the first check point my friend appeared which was a huge mental boost. I knew his house was only a mile away and cracked on around to see him again; upon arriving I had a major wobble. Roughly 78 miles in and I had lost all perspective of why I was doing it. Extreme endurance can strip you bare like nothing else. Emotions often run very high and I was at a crescendo; bursting into tears I sobbed at his gate; I had convinced myself to stop, to give up on it all… there’s no shame in that right? No shame in admitting on my third attempt to crack the 100 mile distance that I just didn’t have it within me?
The sobbing stopped. I wiped my eyes and without thinking announced, “Right. Better go and finish this off then”. And that was it. I limped off determined not to stop. No Goubunku. No surrender. As I reached the next flat road section I decided to run; I’d be out for hours otherwise. I got into a rhythm; I counted my steps setting myself mental targets of how many to do before I could walk again… and then beating them. I concentrated on my form, running through proprioceptive cues, trying to be as efficient as possible to less the impact on my body. It felt… well… ok, my spirits started to lift, I got back to running 9 minute miles and overtaking the 60 mile people. What a feeling. The sun started to set, I was back in the hunt, a finish was all I came for, right now I was starting to believe sub 22 hours was possible too.
With 15 miles to go I tagged on with two guys only to find a few miles later that one was on the hundred. We worked well together as a three, it seemed wrong not to run when one of the others were so between us we started to chew away at the course. Heading out of Marsden I started running again as soon as we hit the first bit of flat. I promised myself 500 double paces, but as Butterly and Wessenden went by I simply refused to stop, 500 became a 1000, but that would have seen me stop after overtaking another guy on the 60 so I cracked on up to Wessenden Head. Andy (the other guy on the hundred) dug in too. I didn’t want to lose him from a morale point of view, but I had to make the most of this good spell.
I simply couldn’t believe that I could run again and at a decent speed ~9-9:30 on a mild trail gradient. These adventures are always a journey of discovery and to go from sobbing and limping ten miles earlier, I was now positive I’d finish and getting stick on Facebook for posting a status rather than concentrating on running (I only posted whilst on a hill walking… honest!) The encouragement from my social circle was a massive boost. It felt like I had the whole of the #GreenArmy behind me and when you start getting stick you know they believe in you… I was believing too. Andy and I stuck together for the final 9 miles. We’d now set our sights on a sub 22 hour finish and it was on, but it was going to be tight. The final 5 miles are a cruel convoluted mixture of tracks that has you feeling like you’re going around in circles. Everything seemed longer and steeper than it was last time around. We ran/ walked our way to the finish finally pulling in around 21:49 ish. It felt wrong to race at that stage and we were both content to share a very surprising 4th place. Mission accomplished. Medal on, quick photo, bags grabbed, I was in the van in under 5 minutes and within 10 minutes of finishing I was in the most fantastic bath I will ever have! Having one of your best friends living on a course is definitely something to factor in when picking an ultra!
Just a quick reminder the tomorrow is the 2nd Borders League race at Birkenhead Park, the men in particular could do with a good turn out to avoid getting penalised for not fielding a full team of 10. Please try and make it if you possibly can.