Today was the last of my planned summer races, and another local one to boot. This is my review of the Alderley Edge 10k ‘Run the bypass’.
Background to ‘Run the Bypass’ Alderley Edge 10k
The 3-mile stretch of tarmac bypassing the Cheshire town of Alderley Edge was completed about 7 years ago. Immediately prior to opening, a special ‘one-off’ Run the Bypass event was organised. This was a 5 mile out race entirely run on the Bypass. All finishers got a special mug commemorating this one-off event.
Last year, they organised another 5-mile Run the Bypass event. I remember at the time being completely uninterested in entering as I couldn’t think of a more boring event short of putting a treadmill in the middle of a large bowl of custard in a yellow room.
In 2017, they decided to ‘upgrade’ the (now seemingly not-one-off) event to 10k. This provides a slight logistic problem in that the bypass isn’t long enough, but the organisers got around that with a start on an adjoining road to make up the addition 0.2 or so miles.
Organisation and marshaling at Alderley Edge 10k
Race numbers were posted out ahead of time with all instructions on how to get to the event. Free parking had been kindly provided by the Royal London hospital which was directly next to the start line. Marshals managed the traffic brilliantly – actually some of the best traffic management I’ve seen at a race and parking was easy.
The problem with the greater distance was that the start was run from one-side of the neighbouring A-road. This meant things were a bit cramped. And whilst I got away fine as one of the faster pace groups, I wonder how well some of the other 1900 or so runners got on being funneled through the narrow start.
Once on the bypass itself, there was plenty of room. Although several people clouted my ankles during the first kilometer. There were more than enough marshals on the course and the water stations were well organised as well.
One really big plus today – the kilometer marking signs seemed to be absolutely bang on throughout. Well done Run North West events – please share your secret with every other race event organiser!!
Alderley Edge 10k route
This is a closed-road event, out and back along a bypass. The terrain is relatively flat. There is 154ft of elevation over the 10km, but nothing violent or steep going on.
As a course, it is PB potential. In fact this is the sole reason I did the race as I was looking to bang out a fast 10k during 2017.
Aside of that, well you’re running on a bypass. So unless you have a particularly liking for uninterrupted and tarmac and have no interest in scenery, it makes for a pretty dull experience.
That said, if you are looking for a first ever 10k that isn’t going to be scary, or (like me) you’re hunting for that PB, Alderley Edge delivers on both counts.
As I’ve already mentioned, today was all about having a go at my 4 year old PB at the 10k distance. I managed 41:04 at Bangor during the 13 Challenge in 2013 and it’s stood all this time. Mostly because I’ve not done any 10k races until Offerton 10k last week (which is far from a PB course).
Having dismissed the race initially as too dull to contemplate, I added it to my basket of 2017 events when I realised it had the potential to be quick. Oh, and with entering this and the Wilmslow 10k together for £31 all in, it was pretty good value. I just might need to turn off my eyes for the duration.
It was only as we started that I located the 40 minute pacer. I wasn’t necessarily intending to sit in a pace group, but it was a good guide and for the first 5k I was very much in that little group. I think I must have picked up speed a little as when I reached the turn around point I was a few seconds ahead of them, and really stayed there until the 7km mark.
Unfortunately there was a bit of a headwind as we headed back in. Coupled with the fact I’d done about 40 miles of cycling yesterday (bad race prep!) I was beginning to feel tired. The 40 minute pacer along with a couple of others ran past me. I looked at my watch and realised actually we were all ahead of time, so actually this wasn’t a big deal. So rather than sprinting after them, or fading away in despair, I just carried on following them.
The final push
The 8km and 9km signs went by and each check of the watch confirmed my pace wasn’t shifting around much. One of the group had blown up and stopped a little way back but the pacer shouted us all to the very right of the road to take the best racing line. ‘Every second counts’ he shouted, before commenting that we were about 20 seconds ahead of his target pace time of 40 minutes.
I gritted my teeth as I was really feeling the race now. The finish gantry appearing in the distance was a great sight. It was head-down and finish the job. I saw one of the group I run with, in the crowd (injured) and gave a big thumbs up. I knew I’d done enough, and waved goodbye to my 2013 PB, beaten by over 90 seconds.
Alderley Edge 10k finishers bag
This contained a tech T-Shirt, medal, flapjack, haribo, pen and some bits of paper. Here’s a picture of it all!
Alderley Edge 10k photographs and results
There were photographers on the route. Bryan Dale’s photographs from on the course will be on his racephotos website and are usually free. Mick Hall was covering the finish and his photos will be uploaded to his website (usual cost of about £5 for digital download).
Full results are here
Alderley Edge 10k Conclusions
I’m a bit conflicted here.
The Alderley Edge 10k was very well executed and done so at a decent price. It’s a beginner-friendly course and has a good PB potential.
That said, I’m not a fan of running along featureless bypasses, nor a fan of ‘out & back’ courses. Most races I choose have a good range of gradients and of scenery. My previous PB in Bangor had the grounds of Penrhyn Castle, and a pier on the course. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what I was letting myself in for today and it served its purpose well. But it’s this aspect which make me feel sure I’ll not be back again.
As with all of these things, it depends on what it is you’re after when you enter an event.