The day arrived and runners, marshals and officials got up very early to prepare for the big race, this year’s race took place the morning after the clocks changed which meant one less hour in bed. Talking to lots of runners made it clear, the clock change didn’t really effect most runners as the reality of what they were about to attempt had meant last minute nerves keeping them awake. The sun was shining and the skies were blue making us believe the weather forecast might just be wrong. The runners were in high spirits which gave the start venues a real buzz, in Sowerby Bridge we had mainly experienced ultra runners with one or two brave newbies choosing the 75k or 100k distance. There was also the added bonus of having Rob Young, aka MarathonManUK, there ready to join in with the 75k race. Rob is one of the most humble and friendly people you could wish to meet, he spoke with lots of runners before the start, passing on help and advice whilst inspiring people to complete the race. In Manchester the field had many first time ultra runners, some of them hadn’t even run a marathon before! Lot’s of UKRunChat members were there, the twitter group which is open to chat all things running.
Once kit had been checked and numbers pinned on the races began to start, first the 100k runners followed by the 75k runners both leaving Sowerby Bridge. Last but not least the 50k runners set off from Manchester in the biggest field of the day. The 50k had 166 finishers this year up from 94 last year.
About two hours after the start of the 50K event the weather became ‘changeable’ to say the least, it really was like having four seasons in one day, sun, wind, rain and hail. Marshals at check points were catching flying food during the short but intense downpours. The marshals were impressed with the runners still running in the storms and the runners were impressed that the marshals were still cheerful. One runner was asked by a marshal if his legs were ok with shorts on during a thunderstorm with large hailstones, he replied with “yes it’s brilliant, it’s like having a massage” that is a lesson in positive mental attitude, Linford Christie would be impressed.
David Greenwood, a vet 40, was the first person across the finish line winning the 50k in a time of 3:40:15 – a new course record. First lady and 4th overall went to Lindy-Lee Folcher in a time of 4:15:39.
In the 75k race MarathonManUK was in the lead for a large part of the race but he eventually finished 6th. The course had to be rerouted in 2016 due to the devasting floods that hit the Calder valley over the winter. Matthew Blackburn came away with the win in 6:32:34 and Sharon James was first lady and 5th overall home in a time of 7:29:13.
Cass Chisolm took 7th overall in the 100k event and first lady with a fantastic 10:02:47 over half an hour faster than the previous record! One of the most impressive performances of the day came from Craig Holgate who blew the 100k field apart, eventually finishing well over an hour ahead of his closest rival. Craig’s finishing time in the 100k was 7:47:59, breaking the old course record by over 45min. His finish time equates to 10 back to back 46min 10k’s! Wow!
As well as the speed merchants at the front there were so many wonderful stories in the middle and back of the race. People raising money for worthy causes, people who couldn’t run 1k just two years ago and people returning from awful injuries. These people are just as impressive to us here at cannonball events, after all the slower people are actually putting effort in over a longer period of time than the faster guys and girls.
See you all again next year, maybe for the next distance up!