Race Date: Sunday 4th February 2018
The Mad Dog 10k has been put on for the past 8 years by Southport Hesketh Round Table. Whilst it has raised a great amount of money for local charities over the years, it’s pedigree (sorry) is also very impressive – it has been voted the best 10k nationally for a few years, which hints at how well it is organised. Having heard a lot of good things about it over the last few years, I was given my place as a Christmas present from my wife.
It has a dog-related theme each year; this year’s was “Hairy Potter and the Half Bred Pup”. Fortunately, fancy dress was not mandatory, and in any case I could rely on the club rules requiring vests to be worn in competition.
An upside of the theme was that the official starter – Jo Pavey – was obliged to demand that we all bark, howl or woof before setting off. I got the impression that her agent hadn’t told her about this aspect of her role in advance. Priceless.
The start was separated into starting pens by predicted times, and it seems that most people were honest. The course set off on a causeway towards the coast, then ran between the coastal salt marsh and some sort of lake. It turned after passing beneath the pier, went round a boating lake, and headed back to retrace its steps for the last 3k. It was relatively flat, but with 64m elevation gain, it wasn’t entirely level.
The course was marshalled very well, with both effective direction and enthusiastic support being given out. There were also an array of musical stations along the route – my favourite bit was being high-5’d by Elvis at 4km. I can only assume it was the real one.
The field was a good mix; whilst there were lots of dog and Harry Potter themed outfits, there were a huge number of runners from local clubs, particularly Warrington, Widnes, Wigan and some other places beginning with”W”, all in their respective club colours. I had suffered the indignity of being overtaken at pace by someone dressed in a wizard’s cloak and beard – they must have been on for sub-40mins though, so fair play.
The weather was causing me some concern right up to the start – it was clear and calm, but also quite icy underfoot. Fortunately it seemed to have thawed just in time for the 10:40 start. I think a 9AM start would have been lethal, and may even have forced a cancellation.
I reckon it would be a PB course if I’d have actually done some training, but it still gave me a much better time than I’d expected to base my efforts for 2018 on. I was aiming – seemingly optimistically – for sub-50mins, and got home in 49:18, so well happy.
At the end, I got my medal off a talking bipedal dog, which was pretty special. There was also fruit and water at the end, before heading into race HQ for what is possibly the best goody bag ever. In addition to some well-above-par edibles, I got a flashing belt, hat, vest, soft water bottle, buff and rucksack – all with the run’s branding. Absolutely incredible! I’m guessing someone on the Round Table runs a printing firm, otherwise I can’t see how the entry price could have covered it all.
All in all, a great run – good course, very well organised, well marshalled and with a good field to run amongst. There was also a 2k kids race and a wheelchair race beforehand but sadly didn’t see any of that! I’d certainly recommend for next year to anyone after a fast road race with lots of atmosphere.
First woman in was Amanda Crook of Southport Waterloo Athletic Club, in a time of 35:06. First man in was Simon Croft of Red Rose Road Runners in 33:43. I was the sole Steel City Strider to take part, finishing in 49:18.