It feels like an age since I last raced. This is possibly due to the ongoing injury, as I’m resting far more than training at the moment. Anyway, it was a local race today, The Big Stockport 10k.
The Big Stockport 10k – a bit about LifeLeisure
This event has been organised for a number of years now (I think this is the third year?) although the sponsor changed in 2016 to LifeLeisure. Life Leisure is the trading name of Stockport Sports Trust and it’s a not-for-profit company. You’ll find all the council gyms (as they were) in the Stockport area branded as LifeLeisure and as you can imagine, their mission statement effectively aims to invest and encourage in getting the local populous engaged in fitness and sports-related activity.
I was a member of the local LifeLeisure gym for a number of years. Eventually I realised I took most of my exercise outdoors (they have a fabulous Tai Chi group at Hazel Grove, but it clashes with my working pattern) and so I do my activity outside the gym environment.
The Big Stockport 10k – a closed roads town centre race
I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that we have an active running community within the MBC of Stockport. Each of the local towns has it’s own running club (three of which are affliated UKA clubs) and you’ll generally see people running whenever you go out. (There is probably an equal number who take no exercise and generally get irate when their drive to the shop/petrol station/place to walk dog which makes for an awkward situation on some events. Today was not one of those, thankfully.)
So aside from the 5 parkruns, two half-marathons, a 10 mile race, several different terrain-based 10ks and 5ks, we have the Big Stockport 10k. To me, the other events always feel more ‘driven’ by the groups who organise them. The Big Stockport 10k feels much more like an event of the town which is available to all. Not that the other events are exclusive (far from it), but this event feels like it wants to be part of the fabric of the town itself. That’s my personal view of course. For the purpose of confirmation, neither approach is better or worse than the other. It’s just this seems to sit further above the radar than those organised by the clubs.
And unlike the other events, The Big Stockport 10k starts and ends in the middle of the town itself, and takes place on closed roads, footpaths and a little bit of riverbank path.
The Big Stockport 10k – course & route
The route is something of a squished figure of 8 on its side, which begins in that central part. The runners head out from St Peters Square into the market place before heading towards Offerton/Bredbury. A loop through Vernon Park and then up part of New Zealand Road, before cutting back towards the town on quiet paths. Through the town and out the other side, effectively running parallel to the motorway (you couldn’t here it that much) along the river path, and then reversing the route via industrial estate roads and the river path. Finally returning to the town and up the hill to the finish line.
As such, a good proportion of the route was very green which, given the location, was quite surprising. It was well marshaled, and really benefited from the road closures as it made it a much safer event than it would otherwise have been.
Here’s my strava trace which shows the route.
The Big Stockport 10k – My race
My running year has been impinged due to a piriformis injury I sustained in the spring. Despite all the physio and rest, it’s still not right and I’ve done limited training recently.
In total, I’ve done a couple of parkruns recently, plus leading my LymeRunners group during the week. Today was going to be a suck-it-and-see run.
Which having covered the first mile in under 6 minutes, was going to make things very interesting! In fairness it was a simple mile with a gradual descent. Mile 2 was uphill, and somewhat slower! I reached the 5k sign in under 19 minutes. I knew that I was not going to be able to maintain that pace!
The second half of the course, was slightly more technical than the first half. I was regretting that early pace as we turned sharply at 7k to begin the return leg. I had to take a few slower paces to get my breath back; in reality, this was almost certainly a mental issue, not a physical one. Anyway, breathing under control and I took things a bit steadier for the remainder of the course. There was another uphill micro-breather at 9km but knowing there wasn’t much more to go, I stopped faffing and got on with the job.
I crossed the line in 40m30s. It’s my second fastest 10k and so given the circumstances, I’m not complaining. It’s a quick course and with better preparation, a sub-40 time should be achievable.
The Big Stockport 10k – cost & goody bag
I always like to have a look at the cost of entering events and also what you receive in return. The Big Stockport 10k cost £13 to enter (£15 if unaffiliated). The route included road closures and it was chip-timed. The facilities at the start/end were reasonable, although perhaps a few more loos would have helped with the pre-race queuing!
At the end there was water and energy drinks available. Finishers received a medal and printed T-Shirt. (Unusually, the print was all on the back. Either that or mine had been printed in reverse!). There was also a cereal bar and a small forests’ worth of literature.
On balance, this was a good price for a well organised event.
The Big Stockport 10k – Results & Photographs
There were photographers on the route. The galleries are here and it would appear that the photos are £1.50 each.
The Big Stockport 10k – Wrap-up
A decent price for a very accessible 10k for anyone wanting to have a go. The course was varied enough to be interesting, challenging in parts but without being scary. It was well organised too. Thumbs up from me, it exceeded my expectations on this occasion!