Despite predictions of ice-age like weather, Reddish Vale was basked in crisp winter sunlight, a perfect welcome for the 268 runners who came to start 2015 off as they meant to go on by running off their festive calories. The usual thrills, spills, mud and hills were there to greet the eager participants who came from as far as Denbigh to enjoy the little-known but much-loved Hit The Trail.
The course (designed by the late Eddie Cheetham, former St Helens Rugby League player and Belle Vue Racers’ founder and Chairman) was described perfectly by first time participant Dave Taylor as “largely on the valley trail but with enough off –piste muddy stretches, twists and turns plus four short sharp hills to provide a challenge”.
First over the line (at the top of a rather long hill) was Thomas Charles of Trafford AC in 26:30, the muddy conditions preventing him from beating Andy Norman’s course record. Damian Nichols of Wilmslow RC was only seconds behind (26:57) closely followed by Andrew Lamont of Macclesfield Harriers who completed the men’s podium. Despite Trafford AC also taking fourth and fifth spots, it was GlossopdaleHarriers who took the men’s team prize, the first four finishers counting.
First woman to finish was 2014’s third-place finisher Caitlin Rice of Glossopdale Harriers (31:21). Natalie Stonell (Unattached) stormed to second place in 31:57 with Kirsty Johnson, also from Glossopdale Harriers, completing the women’s podium. As in the men’s race, despite not securing a top three finish in the individual results, it was Stockport Harriers who took the women’s team prize.
Love and adoration was overflowing for the course and the marshals, whose enthusiastic encouragement is one of the main attractions of this race. Charmaine Wood of Congleton Harriers emailed to say, “Support all the way round was fab! … Pretty much every marshal cheered me on like I was in their own club.” Ultra-runner, Ria Bright, who knows more than most about trail running, said, “You can’t believe such a nice trail is hidden in such an urban location.”
After a warm bath and a brew, Twitter seemed pretty happy about everything too:
Once again, thank you to each and every one of the 268 runners who supported this very special race. We hope to see you again next January.
In the meantime however, Belle Vue Racers are forging ahead with the planning of a new Summer evening race, The Mad Hatter’s Trail Race, a brand new course at the same spectacular venue on the 13th of May. We look forward to seeing you there. SW / AT