Friday, 23 February 2018

Stockport Trail Half Marathon 2018

A couple of weeks ago we took on a pretty tough run, the Stockport Trail Half Marathon, organised by Crazy Legs Events. James had a bit of experience having taken part last year, it was my first time at the event and I knew it was going to be a tough one as we all stood in the pub before the start looking out at the snow falling!


Ahead Of The Day
 The first thing that surprised us about this race was its popularity! As we returned home from a pretty big holiday after Christmas (more coming on that later) the last thing we expected was for the event to have sold out! We contacted the race organiser and asked to be put on a waiting list which was a pretty easy process. 9 days before the event we received and email asking if we were still interested - of course we were! We signed up online and received the all the information we needed for the event.

On The Day Organisation
 We were warned in advance that parking is at a premium and from our experience of last year we knew that it was better to park a bit further away and leave plenty of time to walk over. Race numbers were collected from a local pub (home to the Marple Runners) and it also meant a good place to hide from the elements! The start line was a 5 minute walk down the road to the start of the Middlewood Way which was made very clear from the pre-race info. The race was well marshaled with plenty of support along the way.
All runners wear numbers and also a chip, there are no splits along the route but it does mean an accurate time at the finish.

As usual with a local Half Marathon there are long stretches with little support and I'd expect the bad weather conditions didn't help with spectator turn out, however where spectators had turned out they certainly were good motivation! The marshals placed along the route were also a great support and the atmosphere among runners was pretty cheerful despite the snow!

The Course
The route follows the Middlewood Way, an area stretching of reclaimed railway stretching from Marple to Macclesfield, although this route turns about halfway between Adlington and Bollington, getting you away from roads and giving you a feel of the Cheshire countryside. On the return path you spend a large chunk along the canal tow path, whilst it can be difficult it also feels like a more unusual and interesting place to run.

I have mixed feelings about this course, in some ways it's fantastic! It's pretty much a straight line out and then straight line back and relatively flat terrain that isn't too difficult - a wide country footpath on the way out and a mixture on the way back of that same footpath and narrow canal tow path. The only real hill is the stepped climb up to the canal so on the face of it the course seems like a good opportunity to PB! The canal path can be a struggle though, it's difficult to overtake and thanks to the recent weather had a lot of unavoidable, freezing cold, ankle deep puddles - having said that it's also where I felt my best along the course.  
The thing that really made this course tough is the time of year, February isn't known for it's glorious weather so it certainly didn't disappoint here! It was cold, it snowed, it sleeted and it made it pretty damn tough!

The Goodie Bag
Upon completion of the race you'll be handed your medal and there is immediately a very welcome tent with a variety of drinks and treats to get your energy back up! As well as plenty of water there was a pretty tasty protein shake and some cherry cola. Snack wise there was a delicious (Was it homemade?) flapjack and some much needed Jelly Babies! 


Overall we think that this is a pretty tough race, is it one we'd do again? Definitely! We love supporting our local races and running communities and it's worth taking party just for that delicious flapjack at the end! So how did we do? James smashed it with a time of1:25:29 which knocks a massive 8 minutes off of his time from the previous year! I managed a time of 1:52:04 actually making it my second fastest HM time!

Key Stats
Entry Fee: £21 (unaffiliated)
Race Organisation:4/5
Course Difficulty:3.5/5
Goodie Bag:3/5
Overall Score:3.5/5
Key Stats explained
Atmosphere rating (1-poor, 5-excellent) based on other runners, the crowd and general feeling of the event.
Race Organisation (1-poor, 5-excellent) based upon key information being communicated ahead of time, race information including number arriving in plenty of time, speed of response from organisers on requesting information, facilities available along the route and ease of starting the race. 
Course Difficulty (1-very easy, 5-extremely difficult) based on gradient of the route, running surface eg. Road or trail, obstacles along the route and ability to stay on the correct route through markers or marshals.
Goodie Bag (1-none available, 5-best goodie bag ever!) based on prizes given out post event such as medals and t-shirts.
Overall Score (1-Would not recommend, 5-would recommend to everyone) based on all factors above to give an overview of how good the event was.


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