Following their mediocre performances at the Grizedale Trail 26 race, our intrepid trail team continued their North West tour, with the classic Parbold Hill Race, Saturday 11th Feb. They had low expectations and they failed to disappoint. Our correspondent Richard Bardon tells the story in his own words...
The Endurance Store Trail Race team were out in numbers at the Parbold Hill Race on Saturday. This is one of the best races locally, just short of 7 miles of hills and plenty of mud. The race had sold out weeks ago and it seems that the majority of the 500 runners turned up, with at least one exception .... Can't think who? (Editor: BOOM!!!! Let's get in there early Bardon with the sly comments. I have a shadow on my lung and norovirus, i deserve to be pardoned).
There was a good quality field and when the gun went off (whistle actually) everyone just seemed to sprint off, charging down the road, dodging cars on the road as they did so, in a scene which resembled some kind of athletic street riot. I did my usual steady start and did find it quite entertaining to Ste Ste Hilton and Pommy running really hard down the road thinking I was ahead of them (Editor: There is something strangely warming about seeing runners ahead of you who are clearly traveling at a pace which is way beyond their talent level).
Things settled down once we started to climb and when I went through the first mile in 5:50 with loads of people still head of me I thought/hoped that a lot of people went off too fast(Editor: Please see comments above, the last time Hilton and Pommy covered a mile in 5:50, they were on a bike going downhill).
On the descent after Stoney Lane I managed to pass Pommmy and then I left until the climb up Parbold Hill to pass Ste. I put a bit of a push on the hill just to make sure that Ste wasn't clinging to my shoulder. Wayne was with me at this point and we pushed on through the next really muddy section. As we got to the High Moor I was surprised to see Dan who was suffering with his 'hurty calf' and was now moving through the mud at the velocity of continental drift (Editor: Dan has pulled a calf several times in the last few years, but the less said about his romantic relationships with farm animals, the better...)
The descent from the windmill was good fun and then we had the two fences to overcome. The first fence is easily jumpable. However you are running down hill at speed on fairly slippery ground, add to this the guys from Sunday Sport Photography are there and the pressure is very much on not to slip/fall and have this captured on film. The second fence was even funnier. They had hay bails in front of the fence followed by a 5 foot drop on the other side, which is a nasty surprise when you vault the barbed wire. (Editor: Little Ste Hilton would be invisible once over the fence!)
You then hit Tarmac for 50 metres before the last half a mile across the fields to the finish. This is where Wayne made his first and last critical mistake. He thought when we hit the Tarmac there was only 100 metres to go. Wayne accelerated with the pace of a man who was either 'super strong' in the final stages, or clueless about how much further it was to the finish line. Hysterically it was the latter.
As Wayne wobbled across the final field, legs full of badly paced lactate, I picked up the pace a bit to guarantee the victory. In the end I finished 25th and Wayne 26th. Well done to Rich Smith who was clearly nicely rested after his house move finishing 6th overall, a great run and ahead of us all, which is why he received no attention in this report. Well done to Mersey Tri for taking the team prize and LEGALLY taking our beer. The rivalry continues boys, next time you are going down.
The downside of a small team is that if someone gets injured it can damage the team chances. Obviously we're not holding this against anyone in our squad as there is no 'I' in team and we work as a 'unit' not as individuals. Having said that, as Dan limped across the line, the light was fading fast. We completely blanked him for the rest of the day, wondered what might have been and cursed the beer we did not win.
Next up is the Montane Trail series 10k at Dalemain, Sunday February 26th. If I said we were optimistic about our chances of grabbing victory, I'd be lying. But god loves trier...
Until the next time, keep on running...