White bear way, Adlington — long trail series

Ed Halliwell writes:

White Bear Way, Adlington (21m)

This was a Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) event, organised by the local Scout troop.  40 people (17 runners and 23 walkers) were taking on a pretty flat 10 mile route, while 86 people (12 runners and 74 walkers) went for the full 21 miles.

The route started in the village of Adlington, then south along a canal for a short while before heading across country to the bottom of Rivington Reservoir.  The route involved a diversion to see “The Castle” by the Reservoir, and to ensure no-one missed it out the distance between checkpoint 1 and checkpoint 2 was around 700m, a record short distance perhaps?

To this point the route was pretty flat, but from here started to head up Winter Hill, but the route chosen was a very runnable one, and it was a surprise to turn around about 2/3s of the way up and see how much height had been fairly easily attained.  Up to the top of Winter Hill you were overtaking the walkers quite regularly, who start up to an hour earlier.  This is nice for several reasons: it’s nice to say hello; it’s nice to have targets to chase down; and it’s nice to know you’re still heading the right way!

The descent of Winter Hill is down the steeper side, which was fun, and was followed by several miles of mostly gentle downhill to the reservoir.  It felt surprising to only really have first glimpses of the reservoir around this stage, having spent a couple of hours running around it.  There was also a 1km section around the ‘tourist’ path round the reservoir, which almost felt too pleasant to be part of a run like this.

After the reservoir came the last little uphill section over Healey Nab (thankfully devoid of mountain bikers) before a few more miles across fields back to the canal.  Then followed around a couple of miles along the canal, which dragged a little by that stage, but at least didn’t require any navigation from a tired mind.

Hot pot, trifle (sadly lacking Sherry) and plenty of tea and cake awaited at the finish, alongwith a certificate, badge and a very warm welcome.

Anyone who hasn’t tried an LDWA event would be encouraged to try this one next year (or the similar Beacon Bash in February, weather not guaranteed!).  It’s all runnable and gets you round a variety of terrain without being overly onerous on the ascent, and the Scout Troop and helpers do their best to make you enjoy the day as much as possible.  The lack of a full-on competitive feel about the LDWA events makes for an enjoyable and relaxed run.  Having said there isn’t a full-on competitive feel about it, this was of course a club counter in the long trail series, and a LAMM-weakened Andy Robinson was proved beatable so for once relinquished his near-mandatory 20 points:

Edward Halliwell 20 points (2nd overall)

Andy Robinson 19 points (4th overall)

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Sandstone trail challenge – marshall’s pre-run

Chris Baynham-Hughes writes:

Date: Wednesday 4th May.

For some of us the decision to run the trail goes back further than this, but for Ed the decision was made on the 4th. The evening started so innocently with Ed driving us to the Dinas Bran fell race, but during a discussion about the impending end to end trail attempt resulted in a slip of the tongue from Ed stating that he’d like to do it one day. Well, no time like the present, so by the time we got to the race we were telling everybody else that he was running it with us. By the time we were driving home the post race buzz has left Ed agreeing to run it with us. Result!

Date: Saturday 14th May.

Not content with the planned 33/34 mile run from Whitchurch to Frodsham, I decided that a run to the meeting point was in order… ok, I was late to the rendezvous, but good spirits were maintained. Ed, Steve Riley and myself were all set and Adair had a car packed with our food, his magazines, music and a tub of Vaseline – the mind boggles!

We picked up Andy Robinson and headed out to the start, checking a few final elements in advance of the challenge event on Saturday. The toilets were indeed open and the route to the start simple to follow so all was set. A brief photo call for the intrepid four followed by a minor delay to find satellite signal for my watch and we were off.

The weather was reasonable good for running, no sun to speak off, but it was easily warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt (although Ed did provide us with a strip tease along the way and a number of outfit combinations), rain threatened, but never really got in the way, but the wind did provide a degree of challenge in places.

The opening three miles are thoroughly pleasant and easy to navigate (although I managed to go wrong within 300 yards of the start), but it is deceptive as it is easy to get drawn into going out too quickly down the tow paths… which I did banging out sub 7 minute miles not really in the plan, but they felt slow. Even at this early stage any thoughts of running together have gone out of the window and our competitive edges have come out.

Within a few hundred metres of leaving the path I made my first “inefficient route choice”, back on track I cracked on to the first check point. Adair had agreed to crew for us so with five check points to man he had his work cut out – often supporting can be more difficult than running it; but we’ll get into that later.

Shoe issues fixed and muffin on board I made my next interesting navigational choice and which trying to correct it I spotted Ed behind me. Back on track I waited for Ed to run together and Andy appeared with Steve not far behind so we’d bunched well. I pushed on only to take my most impressive inefficient route choice just past Michael Owen’s race course, but Ed did too so a quick check of the map and a few minutes lost we cracked on.

Adair met us with our food and water and I made the mistake of downing a full sports drink which was to play on my stomach for a good few miles. I managed to leave as Andy came in and cracked on for what turned out to be a bit of a long haul!

It turned out I wasn’t the only one to experience navigational difficulties. I’d built up a head of steam and came into Beeston expecting to see Adair. Nothing. I figured he must be a bit further on due to the parking charges at Beeston, but every possible point I found there was no sight of him. I was really struggling with stomach cramps and didn’t fancy taking anything else on. By the hill just before rock farm I was starting to bonk and seemingly out of nowhere Ed and Andy appeared behind me. Even the stunning view over the Cheshire plains didn’t help as I pushed on.

It was not long before experience trumped youth and Andy took the lead. For those that know the trail it was on the climb over the sandstone which you wonder whether to run it or not. I was walking! A ridiculously apologetic Adair greeted us at Gresty’s waste. I was just behind Andy, but he was off quickly whereas I spent just over 8 minutes refuelling during which time Ed came in. Throughout the entire 8 minutes Adair made excuses for not being at check point 3 or 4… he laid it on so thick and we were so exhausted that we even started to feel sorry for him!

For me, the highlight of the run came just as I was about to leave Delemere forest near Manley common. A lone figure appeared with a dog which as I got closer turned out to be Mario, “you’re going well lad, do you want some water? I’ve got a Milky way in my bag if you want it!” A superb boost just as I was really starting to feel human again. He also informed me that Andy had put almost 8 minutes on me since Gresty’s which put him out of sight. I now had a new goal; maintaining sub 10 minute miles to beat my previous best of 5:29:30. I had my work cut out.

I pushed hard, played all the mind games with myself that I could. The Baker’s dozen was cruel and I didn’t have the time to enjoy the fantastically clear views from the war memorial. A hard final push lead me to arrive at the finish in 5:26:42 just over two minutes behind Andy who made it in 5:24:31. Both my arms were tingling as if I they were about to go into pins and needles. Andy came to the rescue with some magic Kendal mint cake which had me right within a couple of minutes. It seemed refusing the kind offer of a milky way would have been a mistake if it had been any further!

A well deserved pint was ordered for the pair of us whilst we waited for Ed and Steve to arrive. Ed came in next with a superb time of 5:42:55 and Helsby uber supporter Joe arrived just in time to cheer Steve in with an excellent 6:06:50 much to the extreme delight and hero worship of his wife and daughters. A truly fitting end to an excellent morning run!

Sandstone trail challenge — ready for take off!

Well the planning is in its final stages, the water jugs ready and the coach is warming up. 127 runners and walkers are thinking about which t-shirt to wear, whether and where to vaseline, which shoes to use and how many packets of jelly babies they need to buy.

After a lot of hard graft from a few people we’re pretty much ready to relaunch this fondly-remembered event. Several members of Helsby RC have had a bit of a thing for this route, both recently and further back. Indeed we’ve had quite a few completions in respectable times (records here) over the last weeks and months. It’ll be great to get the event back on.

See you on Saturday!

Sandstone trail challenge 2011

We’re relaunching the much loved Sandstone Trail Challenge for 2011. A formidable challenge for runners and walkers alike, this event has a long history of involvement from Helsby RC and we’re relaunching it as an LDWA event for the current year.

Not just for runners! We’re a running club, but this an event for walkers and runners. Indeed half the places will be reserved for walkers, so there’s no danger of them being outnumbered. There’s an interesting round-up from Andy Robinson here.

Find out more on the Helsby website. Any questions, ask at the club  or email andy@crewood.net. See you on May 21! Be warned, it’s likely to sell out, we’re already half full, primarily from word of mouth.

Short of a sprint finish?

Not prepared to give up unless you can’t actually stand up any more? Fancy the chance to win an event just once in your life?

I have to confess that I’ve yet to compete in a ‘club counter’, and I’ve only worn my Helsby club vest once so far since I joined the club last autumn (2008). I’m sure I’ll do the odd club race when one fits into my training schedule, but they’re not really my sort of runs. What I really like doing is long trail and hill runs, generally 20 miles or more, out in the best bits of the hill country. There are plenty of these events close enough to Helsby, in the Peak District, Lancashire, the Calder Valley in Yorkshire and… read more here

[Thanks to Andy Robinson for an excellent piece]