The ever popular Harrock hill race series resumed again for the 10th year.
20 SWAC members turned up in force to take on the challenging and scenic course, starting with a tough mile climb to the top of the disused quarry this race is not for the faint hearted!
Shortly after 7.30 pm we set off up the climb, sprinting away from the start with lungs bursting and quads burning we fought our way up against the unforgiving incline.
Towards the top of the first climb team mate and club chairman Steve Mclean shot past me like an exoset missile, which caught me by surprise, I regained my stride on the downhill and overtook Steve as my Garmin showed sub 5 min mile pace.
Just behind was Steve Lewis followed by Rob Johnson [farther of Ben] and Andy Hudson and Paul Tobin.
Tracey Peters was the first of our girls over the top, with Vicky Harvey followed by Rachel Thomas, Carol Wright and Sue Stewart who was being shown round the course for the first time by an obliging Carol James.
I was now running in the ‘moment’ concentrating hard to take it to the limit one more time.
Out of the farmers field and onto a flat road section hitting 5.20 pace until I turned a sharp corner and headed up the next climb.
I’d now moved up to 8th place with a big gap to the lead runners.
I shortened my stride and speeded up my cadence, leaning into the hill, a couple of guys got into formation behind me waiting for me to faulter,No Pressure!
Out on to the Parbold hill road for a second before plunging down a dark narrow dirt path with gnarly tree roots under foot to take out the unwary
Over a stream, up the bank then out onto the escalator, a never ending climb that carries on into the distant horizon!
This is where many runners suffered among them was Steve Lewis, Matt Nelson and Neil Silcock all who retelled their stories of woe back at the pub after the race.
Pushing on at last I reached the top road, still in 8th place and feeling strong, just one more short climb up to the ruins of the ancient windmill.
Next is a very technical section along a rocky path, I feel the breath on my neck of 3 guys on my shoulder lining up for the final sprint.
Down through the last cow field I’m out paced by 2 of the guys only to have the 3rd guy out sprint me to the line.
This gave me 11th place out of 179 [a record number of finishers] and my fastest time in many years!
The race was won by John Morrisey of Wigan Phoenix in 32.02.
Out of our club members there were some great performances;
Tracey Peters, Vicky Harvey and Rachel Thomas won the ladies Team prize!
Steve McLean was 21st, Steve Lewis in only his second race here set a massive P.B. with 37.17 and 23rd place.
Rob Johnson a very good fell runner over the longer distances had a big smile on his face at the end finishing with 38.01 and 28th
Next was Andy Hudson 37th Simon [flying Doctor] Tobin on the comeback trail after injury 45th 39.27
59th Matt Nelson 40.40, Paul Cain pulled off a new P.b. with 40.55
Tracey Peters was the first lady of our club finishers taking 3rd lady overall on the night with 41.09 and a new P.B.
Ex club member Ted [big boy]Maguire ran 42.54
Paul Ashby 43.31 out sprinted Neil Silocock 43.32 who enjoyed his first ever run here.
Big Ed Sherstone no stranger to climbing the high peaks finished in 101 place with 44.25
Rob Cosgrove set a shinny new P.B. with 44.48
Vicky Harvey put in a good showing with 46.32
Silver haired old fox Phil Baxendale put on his trainers one more time for 46.49
Clive James was close behind with 46.54
Next lady was Rachel Thomas pleased with her 47.32 but looking to get faster by next month.
Shy retiring Carol Wright 51.46 complained that she wanted a specially designed SWAC T-shirt to cover her hairy chest!
Super Sue Stewart running her first ever race here put in an awesome performance to win the L 60 age group with the help of pacer Carole James 52.46
All in all a great turn out from the club, just missing a few big hitters from the Formby end.
After the race we all enjoyed a few pints at the friendly Farmers Arms and recounted daring tells of epic hill climbing and descending.
Next Race Hutton Roof on Saturday.
HOW DID I IMPROVE
For the last couple of years I've felt I've lost some power on the hills, my answer to this is to increase my explosive power with plyometrics and short sprint work up hill.
My best short distances races were back in 2000 and 2003, is it by any coincidence that I did a lot of plyometric work those two years, I think not!
I'm doing two leg squat jumps, with and without weights, single leg squat jumps and one and two legged bouncing from the ankles.
I've progressed slowly over many months from wearing minimal shoes down to just bare feet now!
This I think has greatly increased the strength and power of my legs and feet.
Also under the advice of super marathon runner Roberto I've started incorporating short hill sprints into my training for the last couple of weeks.
It has been shown that these short hill sprints greatly increase growth hormone in the body by up to 40% after training, this is a massive gift for us older runners as GH is responsible for increasing muscle mass, reducing body fat and speeding up recovery!