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2011 report

Andy Robinson, event organiser

This was the first time the event had taken place since 2006, and the first time it had been organised by Helsby Running Club. The number of things that could have gone wrong was huge, but the whole event seems to have run like clockwork (although a few pairs of legs probably didn’t feel like that towards the end). Many, many thanks to everyone who helped and to everyone who took part for helping to make the day such a success.

The most important thing is that everyone enjoyed the day, as far as we can tell. That was what we were aiming for and it seems to have worked, so next year we’ll be running the event in much the same way. Thanks to everyone for your kind comments and emails after the event.

So what happened on the day? The weather forecast was for cloud, with rain coming in later. I got up at 4:30am and was relieved it wasn’t raining then, anyway. By 6am we had registration up and running, and the car park started filling. The coaches turned up at 6:45am as planned (thanks Carvers!), and by 7:10am they were filled up and on their way to Whitchurch. The public toilets there opened more or less on time at 8am, and in the meantime I was registering the handful of people who’d made their own way to the start. By 8:15am everyone had gathered in the little car park by Jubilee Park, and we were about ready to go. Steve then started taking photos. At 8:23am 116 walkers and runners set off across the road and down the alleyway, on their way to Frodsham.

Conditions were just about ideal for the runners, although some of the walkers might have wished for a bit of sunshine. It was cool without being cold, the rain held off all day, and there was even a following wind to help. Conditions underfoot were good too: not muddy but not baked hard either. We were hoping for few retirees and maybe some good times from the faster runners, and we weren’t disappointed on either count. Five people had to retire, due mainly to running injuries and sore feet, so we had 111 finishers.

First to finish, in a new record time of 4:33 was our own Adair Broughton of Helsby Running Club. Adair had a brilliant run, beating his own previous time by nearly an hour, and breaking the record by 45 minutes. Five minutes later Martin Wilcock came in second, and the following three runners (Dave Douglas, Jeff McQueen and Tom Armstrong) all beat the previous record (set by Dave and Jeff in April). Next to finish was Julian Barry in 5:28, winning the Men’s Over 50 category.

First woman home was Sue Brown, 9th overall, in another excellent time of 5:40. This was a record as well, as it was, as far as we know, the first time a woman has run the Sandstone Trail in its present form. First in the Ladies Over 50 class was Fiona Cameron, in 6:31, another very creditable performance.

Eventually the runners arriving at the end were succeeded by the walkers, and here we mustn’t miss out the achievement of Mike Kench, winner of the Men Over 70 class in 11:15. By 9:10pm we were just starting to worry about what had happened to the only walker left on the course so I started up the alleyway to look for him, only to spot him almost immediately walking towards me.

Steve took a fair few photos along the course (RunHelsby flickr site), and got them back to the Community Centre in time for us to get them onto a projector screen show before the first runners finished. Next year we hope to have two projectors going, so we can have a screen show and the race progress stats both displayed together. The technology for tracking runners and walkers worked really well, thanks to the Cheshire Scouts Event Support Team, and we expect to be using it next year too.

We didn’t manage to count the number of biscuits and Jaffa cakes that got eaten at the checkpoints, so let’s just say it was a significant number. None of the checkpoints ran out, and we don’t think anyone went hungry. The pie and peas at the end seem to have gone down well, and we had cakes left over at the end, though not because they weren’t in demand — we had a lot of cake! Many thanks are due to 3rd Frodsham Sea Scouts for their help on the checkpoints, and to Helsby WI for their help in the kitchen at the Community Centre.

By 10pm we were cleaning up at the Community Centre, and by 10:30pm I was home with a large glass of wine trying to wind down after running on adrenalin all day. See you all next year!