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2012 report

Andy Robinson, event organiser

Apologies for not posting this earlier: I wrote it in May, then must have forgotten to post it to the website.  Once again everyone seems to have had a great time, so we must be getting it more or less right!  This year we had four coaches parked up at the front of the Community Centre in Frodsham, rather than the two we had last year, and 195 walkers and runners were heading off to the start in Whitchurch.  And there we hit the biggest problem we had all day.  There are no longer any public toilets in Whitchurch, so I’d carefully arranged with the Town Council for them to open the toilets in the Civic Centre for us at 7:45 a.m. (note the “a.m.”).  We agreed it face to face as “a.m.”, and that’s what was written down in their diary and also in an exchange of emails.  But...they opened up 12 hours later instead.  So dozens of runners and walkers were milling around the middle of Whitchurch with legs crossed.  A few enterprising souls headed off to Tesco’s to use the facilities there, and eventually almost everyone got to the start before I set the event going.  Apologies to everyone for the confusion, and particularly to Vaughan and Anne who started 3 minutes after the rest of you as a result.  We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again next year.

Once the event was under way things seem to have gone pretty smoothly.  Checkpoint 1 was a bit stretched when the bulk of the runners arrived, so sorry to anyone who was delayed there: we’ll try to improve it next year.  The weather was great from start to finish, not too hot, not too cold, with some sun and no rain.  A bit muddy underfoot in places, certainly more so than last year, but even this improved as the day went on and the sun dried the ground.  Refreshments at the checkpoints seem to have gone down OK.  We had Jaffa Cakes at a couple of checkpoints last year, but they ran out, so this year we decided to find out just how many Jaffa Cakes 200 people can eat while walking or running 33 miles.  Now we know.  It was a vast number, but not as many as we bought, so nobody went short.  And yes, we’ll have them again next year.

By noon we were in the Community Centre tracking where the leading runners were, with a screen show of photos from the day already up and running.  It quickly became clear the Trail record was going to be broken, and at 12:28 Duncan Harris arrived in a new record time of 4:10, beating Adair Broughton’s record from last year by 23 minutes.  Duncan lives in Chester and is one of the country’s leading Ultra runners, so we were hoping for a fast time from him, and we certainly got it!  Next in was Peter Taylor, in 4:34, just a minute outside Adair’s 2011 time.  Another really fast time, making up for last year when injury forced him to retire whilst leading the event.

Sixth home, in a time of 5:04 was Caroline Hall, breaking the women’s record by 36 minutes.  This was a tremendous performance that won’t be easy to beat.  Last year’s winner, Sue Brown, also put in an excellent run, finishing 10th in 5:13, 27 minutes faster than her winning time last year.  First man over 50 was Robert Hornby in 17th place in 5:39, who said it was the first time in his running career he’s won anything.  Presumably there was plenty of room on the sideboard to give his trophy pride of place!  First woman over 50 was Anne Wade in 6:45, and I happen to know that wasn’t her first trophy.  I’d already tipped her to win, but failed to put any money on it unfortunately.  First man over 70 was our own Ian Hilditch, in a new record time of 8:58: well done Ian!

We had 183 finishers in all, every one a winner of course.  12 failed to finish, including three we had to stop at checkpoint 5 as they weren’t going fast enough to finish in time.  Our first aid was provided by Cheshire Search and Rescue for the first time this year and they did a great job out on the course, including fixing up a couple of damaged ankles.

There were two participants who gave greater cause for concern, both suffering collapses.  Both of them were OK in the end, although quite a few of us will have been worried about them at the time.  The first was Mark Thornley, who was in a bad way a couple of km before checkpoint 4, and I know a number of runners stopped to give him assistance.  Not only did he recover, but he went on to complete the course in a time of 7:11.  He asked me to pass on his thanks to everyone who helped him.  The second casualty was David Clarke, who collapsed in the Community Centre after completing the event.  Cheshire Search and Rescue treated him and called for an ambulance, and he was kept in hospital overnight.  I spoke to him on the Monday (14 May), and I’m glad to report that he was in fine fettle, with no harm done.  And he said he’d had a great day!

Thanks to everyone for coming, and making it such an enjoyable day.  And many thanks to all the helpers.  They were from: Cheshire Search and Rescue, 3rd Frodsham Sea Scouts, Cheshire Scouts Event Support Team, Helsby Running Club, and of course Helsby WI who were keeping you all fed and watered at the end.

Pictures :: Lots of great pictures from the day:
www.flickr.com/photos/78556448@N05 (Larkton Hill)
www.flickr.com/photos/78556448@N05 (Delamere Forest)
Thanks to all our photographers for sharing.