Tuesday 11 March 2014

Bolton Hilly Marathon Double 2014

A really well organised trail marathon with about 800m ascent, it's fairly local to me and the nearest thing you  could get away with calling a 'hill' to where I live. I could remember the course from last year (it was only a single marathon last year, had a good race then too, set the course record with 3 hours 22 min) so this year they made it TWICE AS MUCH FUN with 2 days! There was a stronger, larger field and it was a bit more muddy, same great organisation, Phil and the team were perfect as far as I could see! Lots of support at the finish as runners jogged/ skipped/ sprinted/ collapsed over the finish line! Thanks to everyone involved with making it a great event!

Since the Spine (268 miles along the Pennine Way)  in January, training has been going great, most weekends have involved a Saturday trail race of about 10km and a park run in the morning on heavily fatigued legs, totalling around 30km and a Sunday run around 25-40km around the Bolton Hilly route and surrounding area. Adding to a midweek 30-40 km run and some shorter faster runs seems to have worked well.

As for the race, on day 1 I started out in about 5th as the first 5km climbs up Coal Pit road towards the mast on Winter Hill before a good quick descent down the mast road to the first CP about 10km in. I didn't check the watch at all during the race on either day, I figured if I felt good and was running well and I know the course and how far to go, I don't need to see any data from the watch. After the CP the course follows Georges lane which is cobbled and quite exciting to run on, I moved up a place here before crossing Sheep house lane and the muddiest part of the course across the moor for a short distance to hit a farm track where I had now jumped up a few more places and was feeling good.

There's a small hill before hitting the 12 mile CP (and 16 mile checkpoint - runners do a loop to arrive back here after White Coppice) still moving well I had an incredible urge to check the watch for time but resisted, quite a quick section here before arriving back at the CP where I was apparently 4 min 30 away from the lead I grabbed a bottle of water, how exciting.... next up the course weaves along a couple of reservoirs in the trees and is pretty scenic once again, it's a relatively fast section.

By the time I hit the 21 mile point passing the cafe and nearing the school below the Pike I had closed down the gap to 60 seconds and a friendly cheer from Jo and Mia who were doing a great job cheering some of us runners on course! There is a bit of a climb back up towards Georges lane and I could see the leader and seemed to be closing him down. After the climb I put a good pace in towards the aid station at 22ish miles before a short muddy climb to cross the mast road and the final descent/ last couple of miles to the finish. I put a good pace in on the down hill and was moving really well after taking the lead at the aid station, the downhill training seems to have paid off recently too! It's a fun descent where you can let the legs roll before hitting a set of steps and the final 800m along a road and into the park where the finish line awaits.

After day 1 I headed to the gym for a shower and did a mobility session which left the legs feeling great and ready for....

Day 2.

Day 2 was the same course exactly and started in a similar fashion I was a few places back from the front initially with the addition of some runners doing the single day to keep us double runners on our toes.

It felt like my heart rate was up slightly compared to Saturday although my legs felt better on day 2.
Looking back on day 2 I should have consumed some more energy during the race perhaps as I actually noticed there was a bit of a climb at the 21 mile point this time! ;)
I think time wise I was 3 mins down over the first half and 2 mins down over the 2nd half  compared to day 1.  Happy with that.

As I mentioned the marshals were great and the route was well marked there was a lot of people dotted  around the course supporting friends and family which was great to see! Looks like a great time was had by all (perhaps aside from one or two people with achy legs) Well done to all involved! Great to catch up with a lot of friends and share the weekend!

Post day 2 finish. Overall winners trophy on the left! A WHOPPER!
Double results here

Legs have coped well, a steady running week before getting the intensity up for some 'proper' races (haha... I mean ultras) soon!


  1. Well done on a cracking performance, I did day two I don't know how you guys can run at that pace through 26.2 miles of ups and downs and difficult terrain, and for two days!

    1. Thanks Les. I train on similar terrain as often as possible. Obviously significantly slower than on a flat road race for example. Well done on day 2!

  2. Good to see you again Charlie. You were running really well. See you in May for Apocalypse?

    1. Thanks Nick! I'll be running the 100 at Apocalypse yep! See you soon indeed!

  3. Awesome stuff and congrats Charlie. Another event for my list of must do races :-) Just read through a lot of your blog posts and astounded as to how much you are "getting out the door" to some great places to run.

    1. I suppose it can take a bit of time and effort to get to different places but I love it, make the most of what's around and do what you need to do :)