Littleborough 5k Road Race


Tuesday, 29 August 2017.

As a promise to myself to cover any event that a Northowram Puma may take part in, and for consistency purposes, you understand, do I run the risk of appearing self-indulgent. Not that I’ve much to be self-indulgent about, although I did happen to be the only Puma who took part in Tuesday evening’s Littleborough 5k Road Race, organised by the Littleborough Lions.

Back in June, I ran a similar course over the same distance with Alan Sykes, finishing in 24:14 in what was the last of the Littleborough 5k Road Race Series. This time the route differed somewhat as we headed down Peel Street (instead of up it), turned right at the bottom into Winton Street, then picked up the main road A58 Church Street up to the junction with Smithy Bridge Road. There was then the arduous climb up through Smithy Bridge itself, crossing the railway line and pulling ourselves up to Hollingworth Lake. We then had something of decent flattish – even downhill – run over the last mile or so, finishing by passing under the subway near the railway station.

The starter set us all off at 7pm prompt, a relatively small number of 66 runners which included a couple of Sowerby Bridge Snails in Jonathan Moon and Kieran Heaton. The field had thinned out by the time we reached Church Street, but this busy main road proved deceptive, a gentle climb of nearly a mile up to the traffic lights. By the time we’d reached this point we’d covered about a third of the race, but my legs were already feeling tired. We got brief respite on a nice downhill stretch towards the railway line, only to find the level crossing gates closed and a marshal directing us down the steps under the subway, and therefore the climb of the steps up the other side. This was a first, and though it was the same for everyone, for me it did break my stride somewhat. Then there was the climb up Smithy Bridge Road, never too steep but enough to sap even more energy from your legs. With the junction reached and the left turn along Lake Bank, there was just a mile to go. Hollingworth Lake cut a scenic picture on my right but I had too many other things on my mind to enjoy it.

I drove myself along Lake Bank with the sound of footsteps behind me; someone was closing me down. We veered off left down Hollingworth Road, a pleasant descent, the footsteps behind me still a bit too close for comfort. I pushed on, got into my stride and soon enough I could see the entrance to the subway by the station ahead. A quick glance over my shoulder reassured me that I’d pulled away from the runner chasing me, and having turned under the subway, the finish line was but yards ahead, but only reached after we’d had to negotiate a cycle barrier. A quick body swerve and I was through, and in the blinking of an eye, I was careering across the finish line, almost in a state of near exhaustion, but home all the same.

The only pictorial evidence showing that I competed in the race.

My finishing time was 24:22, eight seconds slower than my previous outing to Littleborough, but as I said, on a slightly harder course. The next runner home (Andy O’Sullivan of Rochdale Harriers) was eleven seconds behind and I finished 24th, no great achievement there, but happy to have taken part. The Snails’ Jonathan Moon came an impressive fourth, but later, over a drink back at HQ, the Littleborough Conservative Club, he was rewarded with a bottle of lambrini for his efforts! The race winner was Darren Shackleton of Todmorden Harriers and he received a cup on which the European Champions’ League Trophy looks to have been modelled.

All the runners were presented with participation certificates (another first) and I clutched mine with pride. Something to show the grandchildren in future years, eh? “Have I told you about the time I ran in the Littleborough 5k Road Race….?”

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