Sunday’s race marked the final chapter of ‘the 13 Challenge’.
The Stockport 10 is a quirky little race but holds fond memories. As such, there was no question about it being a part of the Challenge itself. Indeed, during the 2012 race, I started to assemble the concept of the Challenge in my head.
The previous time I ran it was in 2006. It was a landmark weekend in itself being the first time I met Mark. Running was one of the constants throughout our time together which perhaps might be a surprise to a lot of people from my past; sport wasn’t my thing – well it was all team sport at school and as it happens I wasn’t very good at it. And the effect of that is it puts you off.
I only remember doing cross-country at school a couple of times. I remember it was ‘fashionable’ to hate doing cross-country, which is possibly one of the reasons I actually quite liked it. I don’t remember being good or bad at it to be honest. But it would be another 20 years before I would do any running, save for being late for the occasional bus or train.
I ran that first Stockport 10 in roughly 80 minutes which at the time was spot on for my longer-distance running; this was a training run ahead of my first half-marathon at Wilmslow in March 2007.
Roll forward to 2012 and I got around that same course in 72 minutes. It wasn’t the best race with having to walk a chunk in the middle after the second big hill (there are effectively 3 hills on the course). But as with some of the Half-Marathons I ran in 2012, the issue was probably more pace than anything, going out too fast and paying for it when the gradients increased.
The 2013 Stockport 10 introduced a new route, getting away from some of the main-road sections through Harrytown and Bredbury and replacing them with some countryside trails instead. So the scenery was actually far nicer. And the middle hill in Romiley was also broken up over a longer distance so not quite the leg-killer it was. I’m not complaining!
I decided to hold off the pace at the start of the race, knowing that the hill at 8.5 miles – 9 miles needed a little left in the tank to get up comfortably. Actually I got that bit right in 2012. But 2013 saw a much smoother race, no dramas whatsoever and an official time of 73.5 minutes. Yes slower than last year, but a much more enjoyable race.
So that marked the end of the 2013 running challenge. 16 events – 247 miles. And more than doubling the total number of half-marathons I’d run in my life! I must admit I was glad to get to the end of the challenge in the end. I’d lost the mojo for training and as the year progressed got steadily more paranoid about picking up an injury or catching a cold.
Whilst I was going through my file I discovered the original piece of paper with race suggestions and dates. I’d written this during January, whilst full of cold and feeling sorry for myself. Yet I was concerned that the year was moving on without me having booked any races. Liversedge ended up booked-up before I could enter it. In the end only 6 of the list made it into the Challenge, with Preston being when I was ill and Tatton being replaced by Capesthorne Hall due to issues between the organisers and Tatton Park.
The great thing was on the eve of the Stockport 10 I managed to reach my fund raising target of £1,500. It did seem like an impossible task for a good while, with the total lingering around the £900 mark for what felt like an eternity. I still need to collect a good proportion of this amount in but I’m looking forward to being able to send off a cheque to Myeloma UK – the culmination of the work of the Challenge.
Of course the web page for the fund-raising remains open, I guess for another 3 months so there’s still the opportunity for further funds to be raised. It can be found here if you want to add to the total 🙂
So I’m going to take a bit of time off racing over Christmas, although colleagues at work are twisting my arm to join the cross-country team. I’m told it will benefit my road-running……
In the meantime, some baking and trying not to set fire to the piano again.
And of course 2014 will represent a whole new year of fund-raising. I already have some ideas. Watch this space!!!!