On a bright, chilly Saturday morning, 63 brave souls set out from the iconic Mow Cop Castle in Staffordshire to run 26.2 miles along the Newcastle Way. This waymarked route was a trail runner’s dream (or nightmare!) with hills, stiles, fields, woods, country parks and mud.
The Scouts motto is 'be prepared' and this was the case here as many runners had recced the route beforehand. This strategy paid off especially as there were a couple of detours due to flooding that forced people to find an alternate route. However, the course was waymarked and there were marshals assisting where necessary.
The marathon had a generous 8 hour time limit making it suitable for those new to trail running as well as experienced competitors. With checkpoints at every 5 miles, (this correspondent was at CP5!) and medical support provided by UltraMedix, nearly all the runners completed the race. The finish was at the Joules Brewery in Market Drayton where runners were presented with a T-shirt, certificate and more importantly, free beer!
Two new course records provided a fitting end to the day. First home was Philip Mainwaring of Trentham RC in 3:56:31 (new course record) followed by Jon Ranford of Newcastle Tri Club in 4:02:52. Giles Hodges of Sandbach Striders took third place in 4:27:00. Winning lady was Trisha Van Rooyen in 4:55:45 who also set a new course record. Lucinda Stone of Staffordshire Moorlands was second in 5:28:00 with Sarah Aston of Wrekin Road Runners, third in 5:47:52.
The last two runners to finish had entered the race as part of an epic challenge, running from Cumbria to Warrington in 7 days to raise money for St Rocco’s Hospice. This self-sufficient husband and wife finished in 8:36:00.
The race was given a ‘thumbs up’ by the runners with many wanting to do it all again next year.
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Photo courtesy of Jon Ranford (Newcastle Tri Club)