A Skive and a lead run

In what feels like forever an actual running post. I thought I’d do a quick update on a couple of things I’ve been involved with.

A Friday Skive

You might be aware that our informal trail group “Peak & Valley Trail Runners” like to go on little adventures. I’ve sadly had to miss lots of these with my wonky foot and, following the issues in February, I’ve not done many runs longer than about 6 miles in 2023.

I have been gradually building up though and managed to run my evening jobs a couple of weeks ago, totalling up to about 15 miles. And whilst it wasn’t the most seamless run, it was nice to actually get out and do something that, previously, was a regular occurrence.

Anyway, one of the ‘brands’ of runs we do as P&V is the ‘Friday Skive’ run; basically a daytime run on a Friday where traditionally people would book the day off to take part. As a lot of the group are either retired or partly retired, this moniker doesn’t quite follow as it maybe once did, but I think they will be forever know as this.

Often these runs are quite long, getting the train out to somewhere and running home, but in this case it was a relatively short run of 13 miles. I’m always mindful that for many people, 13 miles IS a long way to run. And certainly having not really ventured into double figure distance running myself this year, the half-marathon distance feels different to how it maybe felt before I was ill.

So the plan. Get to Marple rail station and take the 10 minute ride to Chinley and then run back to Marple.

With the somewhat wild weather we’ve been having in the area of late, it was a good excuse to get out in what appeared to be the only window in the weather happening on that particular Friday.

Work done (yes I know I said it was a Skive, but it’s rare that I get a day without any jobs to cover) I joined the group at the station, and it wasn’t long before we were running from Chinley station.

The route was partly familiar to me as it covered (in reverse) some sections of the Bullock Smithy route. Plus when we recce’d the Three Peaks of Chinley race route, we used the same climb out of Chinley up to Big Stone.

All in all a very pleasant run and a nice change for me as it wasn’t something I was involved in organising or leading, which is pretty much every other run I do these days!

As we got closer back to Marple the group fragmented as people went off to wherever they lived, but I did actually finish up back at Marple rail station; I had to, that’s where my car was!

Sports Feet summer trail run

Sports Feet is a local running shop in Hazel Grove. They started out as a travel agency, but as both owners were keen runners, they decided to diversify the business, something that was a very sensible move when the pandemic hit and fundamentally messed up the travel industry!

We talked about doing a trail run last year to try to introduce their group to the wonderful world off-road. I took them out over Black Rocks and showed them a couple of the local bronze-age standing stones in the area.

Having caught up with them again earlier in the summer (my long disappearance of course due to the fubar of a health year I’d had from a running point of view) and they were keen to have another outing. So diaries checked and I was tasked with putting together a 10km route for the group.

The challenge with planning such an outing is to get a route interesting enough to get everyone involved, but accepting that what the group considers “hilly” is different to that of either my own Lyme Runners group or P&V. The fact we were starting from Higher Poynton and that they wanted to run into Lyme Park immediately meant there would be plenty of climbing to begin with because there really isn’t any avoiding it from that location, which is barely out of the Cheshire Plain.

In terms of the planning, the route wasn’t one I’d done previously as a whole, although I knew all the bits. So 4 weeks beforehand, having mapped it out by hand, I ran the route just to make sure there weren’t any major problems. You know like if someone had added an extra hill I wasn’t aware of. That sort of thing. Anyway, nobody had done such an act and I realised that, despite the heatwave we had been in at that point, there was at least one bog to avoid plus a forded track that we’d need to cross.

Fast forward a month and I’m watching the forecast like a hawk, making sure that I wasn’t leading a group out into any electrical storms! Thankfully, although it had been wet during the day, the evening was clear. And I had a big group (clearly I didn’t scare them off last year!)

As it was an evening run I was mindful that Lyme Park closes at 8pm so I had planned a route that passed through the park in the first part of the run – which really included all the climbing – before undulating our way off the moorland and out of the part towards Pott Shrigley and then dropping back into the Cheshire Plain via country roads, trails and finally the Middlewood Way.

I prefer this approach, especially when leading groups I don’t fully know because it gets the toughest bit of the run out of the way early doors when energy levels are still high. Then it allows people to focus on the views and more easier running for the rest of the run, rather than ‘surprising’ everyone with a huge hill at mile 6 in a 10km!

All in all things seem to go pretty well and whilst some of the group found the initial climb up into the park there were plenty of smiles and photographs taken once we got up there! And plenty more smiles when we got back to the pub at the end!

Hopefully we won’t go another year before I get around to arranging another such outing. I do enjoy showing off the world of off-road running to those who haven’t yet discovered it. For me, it’s a place where the ‘how fast’ can be replaced with ‘how much fun’ and to understand that the journey you’re having on your run can be more important than how quickly you can return to “real life” again.

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