It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since I last visited Langley and faced Withenshaw Lane climb.
Langley 7 background and organisation
The Langley 7 is a road race with one hill and is memorable for the fundraising they do for the Rossendale Trust, the hill, and the cake sale in the church afterwards. It’s essentially the perfect match of race and cake. And did I mention that you get beer at the finish line too?
It’s a race that always sells out early. The numbers are limited to 300 (I think) due mostly to the lack of parking facilities. Langley is a tiny village and can only manage the influx of 300 runners by having a business estate not far away which is shut on a Saturday afternoon. It ought to be chaos, but it isn’t. Macc Harriers marshal the course, the car parking and everything else. It works well.
Numbers are collected from the church which acts as HQ and which is next to the race start. Plenty of information about the route displayed in the hall; most notably with the course profile labeled with ‘start’, ‘big hill’, ‘finish and beer’, and ‘cake’. Just in case you had any doubts!
The start line assembles just before 2, but as it’s not a closed road event, it generally gets disrupted at least twice as cars work their way through the crowd. Everything is in hand, everything is calm.
The race organiser commented just before the start that the fundraising was already in excess of £3000 which was great news all round. The firework was lit and 300ish people ran out of the village.
Langley 7 – race time
The course starts with a gentle downhill, winding out of the village and then onto Langley Road. It undulates a bit and then, just before the mile 2 marker, begins to climb. It also started to rain, which was entirely uncalled for. Thankfully it stopped soon after.
The road has a few steep bits and a lot of undulation, but then gets into a groove of pain as Withenshaw Lane approaches. The hill does not give any favours and gets steeper as you approach the false summit. A sharp turn to the right and finally, just before the 4 mile marker, the summit is reached. By this stage, lungs are burning, legs are screaming and all seems grim. Except, just look at the view!
If the view itself doesn’t make up for the climb, the downhill definitely does. This is a downhill which, despite being on road, is not for the faint hearted. A lot of it is comfortable downhill running. But there are some pretty steep sections in there too, to test the mettle. Being more comfortable with downhill, I love it.
As with the uphill, the last section of the descent is the steepest. And to make it more exciting, involves a hairpin turn at the bottom to join the trail route which avoids running along the main road for the last 1.5 miles. The trail itself undulates with a couple of short steep climbs which, if you’ve already given your all, will almost certainly hurt. But it’s a nice level surface to run along and takes you through a bit more woodland area near to the reservoir.
Finally it has to happen and the trail ends and you’re back on the main road which, by this time, does include pavement. Not that anyone seemed to want to run on that side of the road anyway. I’d been trailing another runner all through the trail and I wasn’t sure there was enough in the tank to pass him. However, I had a bit of speed left for the final tarmac gentle descent and managed to get past before crossing over to the final bit of mud path which led to the finish.
As you may be aware, I’ve been out of action with an injury for most of the summer and autumn. I wanted to get around unscathed, and I managed that, finishing in 49m44s and 52nd overall. There were some super fast runners out there in the 2017 race but I was happy with my time. I got my malt loaf and beer, and headed back to the church to get a cuppa and a cake.
Another very enjoyable Langley 7. Hopefully it’ll be back in 2018. If it is, I know I shall be.