Pete’s Northern Excursion

by Pete Mackrell

During my trip up north for Christmas, I decided to have a break from eating and drinking to do a 10k race. The race in question was the Ribble Valley 10k, in the town of Clitheroe about 10 miles north of Burnley. For reasons that I can't quite fathom, this race in a small town (population of under 15,000) has become an important fixture on the Northern running scene, to the extent it is a North of England Championship. This tends to ensure a very strong field and over 1000 entrants. In 2011 there were eight men below 30 minutes, almost unheard of for a domestic 10k race.

My first experience of the Ribble Valley 10k was in 2012 where I ran a then PB of 35:47, but finished a lowly 110th. ONE-HUNDRED AND TENTH!!! My aim this year was to run sub-35 and break into the top 100. I had warmed up with a 17:08 Parkrun on Christmas Day and since I wasn't exactly feeling fresh that morning, I had hopes of repeating that pace over 10k.

The morning of the race was cold, minus 4 degrees, but otherwise the conditions were perfect and the rising sun melted most (but not quite all) of the ice. The course is far from flat with some challenging hills, however it's probably the only course I've run where it feels like the downhills outnumber the uphills, even though it's a circular route.

Up front, the race was won in 30:01, despite the leader losing ground as he slipped on ice at a 180 degree turning point. The likely women's winner, the aptly named Helen Clitheroe, failed to show but the ladies race was still competitive with a winning time of 33:54. Meanwhile I worked my socks off trying to keep the leading lady in sight and eventually finished in 65th place with a new PB of 34:16. This was exactly double my Parkrun time of a few days earlier, which proves I only have one pace!

The successful day was rounded off when I met local hero Ron Hill in the car park after the race. Ron Hill is a legend of the sport and it’s great to see he’s still racing at the grand old age of 76, and proud to wear the kit of his local club.