Combined Macclesfield Harriers & Matlock Athletic team achieve outstanding 4th place
Based in Rossendale, just under an hour’s drive North from Macclesfield, this relay is for teams of four with all team members running the same (c. 10.4 km, 400m ascent) flagged course. Despite its longevity and popularity (this year there were 85 teams running and it’s been going for a while), it seems less well known “down South” and as far as I know 2022 is the first time the club has entered.
As well as local clubs such as Todmorden and Rossendale, there were plenty of entries from Lake District clubs and quite a few teams from Eryri (based in Wales).
Most of the course takes place within disused quarries, which makes for some excellent technical undulations, with the remainder on open moorland. A single-word description of the course would very probably have been ‘muddy’ – however that doesn’t quite encapsulate the nature of the conditions. Several weeks of rain prior to the event had primed the surfaces for us nicely, and most runners returned more-or-less brown from the waist down.
Given we hadn’t competed in the relay before, it was hard to have any expectations as to our results. On paper, we knew the team looked strong, and so vague aspirations were set at ‘top 15, maybe’. The pace at the start of Leg 1 was brutal and after a mile or so I gave up trying to stick with the lead pack (of about 15!) and let a gap open up. The waterlogged and technical terrain didn’t leave much opportunity for looking up and around, and I lost the flags in several places, only to be shouted back onto the course by runners behind me. By the end I’d managed to overhaul a couple of enthusiastic runners who’d gone off too hard, and I came back in 11th place to hand over to Joe.
It seemed that many clubs had put their strongest runners on Leg 1 and had mixed-ability teams, and this was when our consistency started to show. Joe had an excellent run, ‘the first run for ages I’m happy with’, and his time was within 30 seconds of mine and was good enough for 4th place on Leg 2. Position-after-leg results aren’t recorded in the results, but we think we were in about 6th place at this point.
Jon had be worried he was going to be significantly slower than the rest of the team, but he also had an awesome run only a couple of minutes down on Joe and me, setting the 3rd fastest time of the day for Leg 3 and setting Matt off in about 4th place. After a mile or so Matt was up into 2nd place and we think he was even leading at one point – but unfortunately some teams had kept their superstars until Leg 4, and despite another storming run finishing with a time in between me/Joe and Jon, for 11th place on the leg, we had just missed out on a podium place by 44 seconds.
This was a much better result than any of us had hoped for – and we’re all on board for trying to go one better next year.
|Matt Nichols (Matlock)||0:53:55||11|
Thanks to Matt for stepping in from Matlock to make up our team, after we had various dropouts due to illness/injury. Entries per club aren’t capped, so it would be great to get an ever better turnout for the Harriers in future!
There was another Harriers team present, who I deliberately haven’t mentioned, as I hope they will relate their own experience of the event.