Date/Time: Saturday 4th October
Distance: 9 miles (ended up being 11miles) and other things ;D
Still Waters Run Deep are an awesome, seriously supportive, running crew based in the heart of Central Manchester and to celebrate their first year anniversary they got together with TRAIN Manchester to put on the #SWRDAlleyCat, a 9 mile checkpoint race…with a twist!
Without knowing what that twist would be and instead focusing on the fact that this was the perfect opportunity for a little weekend away some of us members of Run Dem Crew jumped on a train and headed up North!
With the race not starting until 9pm the first thing on the agenda was fueling and we took this very seriously ….
Arriving at Train was, for me, super exciting as it is basically a big kids playground! It is an huge Crossfit gym filled with weights, ropes, frames and climbing walls. However, this all made us all a little nervous, particularly as there were a lot of huge guys around … what had we signed up for!
Once everyone had arrived it was time to discuss the race. There would be 3 different running sections, hill repeats, one looonnngggg hill and a checkpoint route. However, after each section we would have to come back to Train and do one of the following; burpees, planks, pull ups, dead hangs, rowing, sit ups, box jumps, rope climbs …. ok, surely this would be good Spartan training right?
Planning to take this easy and just enjoy running in a new city we Lissy, Fred and I were extremely lucky to be put in a starting group with Kyle from Still Waters who became our incredible tour guide, directing us to all the various points on our map as quickly as possible!
First to the hill repeats! Running through central Manchester at 10pm is hilarious! In London there are always people running, always! In Manchester, well I think it’s safe to say a lot of people were confused, but generally very supportive in their own drunk way! Running past the queue for the Warehouse Project was definitely an experience! At the bottom of the hill two volunteers were ready and waiting to note down our start time and then off we went up a short but very steep hill 3 times! Then it was back to base!
Knowing that my knee was still a little boring I needed to chose my gym moves carefully. So first up 1min 30sec plank!
Planking done and rowing smashed it was back out to tackle the steep hill, once again running through the city hi-fiving people and enjoying their random shouts of encouragement! Paper at the ready another volunteer noted my start time and then I powered up what felt like a long hill, focusing on how good this training was for the Spartan Race the following weekend! One by one we all made it up then headed back to base.
This time round I chose sit ups, I had been really working on my core following the advice of other Spartans and was pleasantly surprised when I powered through 40 of them, though that could have also been down to the epic crew support and the serious tunes Train was pumping out through the speakers!
The final running section saw us visit 4 checkpoints in and around the City, collecting elastic bands to prove we had made it to each one. This was the shortest of all the running sections and we powered through passing lots of other Alley Cats along the way! Coming back to Train we finished our final task – I chose rowing long enough to burn 30 calories (this takes a lot longer than you would think!!) and then we were treated to much needed hot drinks and food – it was about 11:30 / midnight! !
I LOVED this style race. I love that it was organised by a small group of people, nothing fancy or showy, just a group of people who love running and wanted to put on something a little different to celebrate what they have achieved in the last year! The Still Waters crew were extremely welcoming and the guys from Train were more than happy to entertain me when I asked 101 questions about how best to climb a rope so I could not thank them all enough! It really was an EPIC RACE and I sincerely hope they do it again next year …
Oh and bizarrely…I was the fastest woman to run the hill climb…I am a “Mountains Champ” !?!?!?!
PS if you want to purchase the pretty impressive t-shirts commissioned for this race in collaboration with ICNY you can just click here ….. !!!!
PPS All the gorgeous photos were taken by the incredibly talented Ash Narod, check his site here http://www.ashnarod.co.uk/home#0 for more beautiful shots.