the view from the middle of the pack

"the hopelessness of the long distance runner"

Mow Cop Killer Mile

For several years I’ve harbored a masochistic desire to run up a mile long ‘hill’ in Mow Cop. Why? Who knows, I think I just like the idea of ridiculously painful races (I’ve got the Fan Dance to come later in the year but that’s another story). The reality of said races is completely different to the idealised vision in my head where I am bounding effortlessly towards the finish line.

In the past I’ve always been away on holiday and unable to take part so the fact that I was at home this year and able to enter was perfect. One run would have been quite enough but I decided that, to make up for all those missed entries, I would enter two races on the night. I decided to run the club runners race at 6:50pm and then the 2nd adult race at 7:30pm. This would give me enough time to stagger to finish at the top and then back down to the start with a few minutes left to recover my thoughts (and breath!)

I’d run the course before when training but it’s one thing jogging it on your own and another thing altogether ‘racing’ up it. The standard in the club race was frightening and I seriously worried about coming last (as it turned out I was bang in the middle of the pack!). It was a great experience to line up alongside one of Britain’s top athletes in Steve Vernon. It was awe-inspiring to see him make short shrift of those killer hills and finish in 6:40, although he was gutted with his performance and said he would have a proper go next year!! To be fair, his best time is 6:18 so he was slacking (ha ha).

The race was everything I anticipated. A nausea inducing, chest tightening beast. There just isn’t enough room in your lungs to run this thing at anywhere near your usual racing pace. Just making it up the hill is a war of attrition, with a constant voice in your head telling you to ‘WALK’. At the start I was drawn in by the racing snakes and went off far too quickly. No warm up can prepare you to run a one mile race with absolutely zero flat or downhill in it and I was puffing like an asthmatic donkey carrying fat kids along Blackpool beach within 200 yards. My legs were jelly and I had nothing left in the tank at the 3/4 mile point coming up to the dreaded 1 in 4 incline. I somehow made it over the brow of the hill only to be faced with another stretch of climb! At the top it was a sharp left turn onto the only flattish part of the race to finish at the foot of Mow Cop Castle, exhausted and on the verge of passing out in 9:58.

I’ve never wanted to hot foot it back to my car and make a quick getaway so much in my life but I found some resolve and jogged, gingerly back down to the start to do it all over again.

Second time around I have to admit it was much easier. The pacing was easier to gauge after the experience of the first and I got to the top, slightly more slowly but much more comfortably in 10:22.

I picked up two very nice certificates for my two boys for my efforts and have to say that it was a fantastic experience and despite saying never again at the end of the first raced, I can’t wait to do it again. A Killer Mile it most definitely was!




Club Runners Race – 9:58 (23rd of 54 runners)

Adult Race 2 – 10:22 (19th of  140 runners)




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