The view from the top of the hill – MACCL Race 4 – Race Report

13th January – Woodbank Park
Report by Steve Welch

Cross country is more popular than ever at Chorlton Runners this year, with plenty of chatter on the subject on Facebook and at club events, and many trying it out for the first time. Unsurprisingly there was a familiar buzz around the gazebo when I arrived 10 minutes before the start of the women’s race at Woodbank Park.

For those unfamiliar with the Stockport leg of the league season, the course consists of two short laps and two long laps for the women and one short lap and three long laps for the men. The short lap is around the open field near the start finish area and the long lap enters the pathways around the park, which means a sharp downhill and climb back up again. The ascent is generally the part that sticks in the memory! After watching the beginning of the race from a distance I headed into the woods to join other members of the club at the top of the hill so we could give encouragement where it was most needed.

Ladies Team Woodbank Park

Ladies Team – Woodbank Park XC

I timed it well as the leaders were just starting to work their way up for the first time and before long Chorlton’s own Amy Welch and Alice Swift were trudging their way towards us with Leona Beaumont and Sarah Renshaw not far behind. The rest of the field followed, some saving their energy for the flat parts of the course, others keeping a steady pace up the long climb, there was plenty of support from Chorlton and other clubs which was generally appreciated save for the occasional grimace. The crowd thinned somewhat as the start of the men’s race approached and there was a measure of calm as those left shared a joke with the last of the women on their second lap and saw them up the hill towards the finish line

Mens Team Woodbank Park

Mens Team – Woodbank Park XC

The sound of the starting gun in the distance ushered in the men’s race and before long the leaders were speeding towards us, making light of the terrain and the elevation. Our own Pete Bray was having a storming race right from the beginning and from there a steady stream of black and gold passed through with plenty of determination on show. The back of the field had barely passed before the leaders came round again and by their third lap it was a chaotic scene with runners at different stages of their race working their way around each other, the side-line had now been filled by those who had finished the women’s race and all runners received loud encouragement (and a few heckles) throughout. Lap three saw pained expressions on the faces of even those at the front, as they forced themselves up towards the finish; the one exception was Justin Cleary who produced a simply incredible sprint up the hill and beyond which amazed everyone who witnessed it, particularly those he passed on the way up!

Returning to the gazebo it was clear we had all had enjoyed ourselves, albeit for some in a “type two fun,” kind of way, and everyone headed home in good spirits.

Fourth place overall - Pete Bray

Fourth place overall – Pete Bray

So by evening the scores on the doors appeared online and our runners could see their efforts in print. The woman’s A team of Amy, Alice, Leona and Sarah posted a commendable 5th place, with the B team of Steph Stephens, Rosie Barker, Emma Tollefson and Lorraine Pang in 14th. We had 8 teams in total, three more than any other club, and seeing everyone go by it had certainly felt that way!

The men’s results threw up an historic moment in the history of the club as for the second time this season the men’s A team recorded the best result yet for a men’s or women’s team, taking second place behind Sale Harriers, Pete Bray had a brilliant fourth place with Dave Wyeth and Steve Curley also in the top 20 in 15th and 20th place respectively. Ben Hobson, Andy Haney and Dave Alderson rounded out the top six. Not for the first time this year there were two Chorlton Teams in the top 10 as the B team of Gary Scott ( a brilliant recovery from falling over at the start and banging his head!), Chris Rayner, Stephen Smith, Paul Molloy, Paul Griffiths and Dan Vasey took their place above a number of other club’s A teams. Again the total of 7 teams was comfortably more than any other club and it was a wonder that any of our supporters had any voice left!

Links to the results can be found HERE