Race Date: Wednesday 16th August 2023
Race Report by Robin Nelson
As a sullen, pale and skinny schoolboy, Cannock Chase was the destination for torturous school cross-country outings. I’d never have imagined I’d be heading back there as a sullen, pale and skinny adult… paying!… to run!… by choice!
This race was a bit corporate and pricey compared to many weekday evening trail runs back in South Yorkshire (sponsor supplied corn snacks instead of buffets & toffees), but it was nice and handy as it coincided with a trip down to the Midlands. Sign up was a gauntlet of extras and offers, and the club discount wasn’t obvious, accessed via a code after messaging the organiser.
I recruited some family for moral support, and after a short journey we joined a queue of cars filing into the Chase along gravel tracks, before being directed to park in a huge grassy clearing, festival style. This was the evening’s “event village”, surrounded by woods and normally used for open air concerts.
RunThrough typically offer 2 or 3 distances at their events, today’s menu was a 5k, 10k or 10 mile, which roughly translated into one, two or three and a bit laps of the course, with staggered starts. Once underway, all three groups would be mingling, identifiable by our colour coded bibs, mine being green for the 10k.
I’d run the Striders 10k on the previous Friday in 46:23; this was similar terrain with a bit less climbing, so I figured I might be aiming for around 45 minutes, and I then noticed a pacer wandering by who matched my target.
When I reached the field’s edge for the 7pm start, the 45 minute pacer turned out to be the quickest on offer, and was waiting right up front with a group of 10 or 15 runners while everyone else hung back. This made me question my target time, but I set off in the gap behind the leaders and found myself passing the pacer on the first gravelly downhill.
The route featured more twists & turns than I remembered from the map, and even the longer stretches had a gentle curve to them, which broke up the distance nicely. Terrain was wide and well-trodden trail or gravel through the woods, and we revisited the edge of the field to start lap two and get some welcome crowd support, although there were friendly & encouraging marshals all the way around.
I had a decent, steady run, and managed to reel in a few runners without getting passed. One set of feet came crunching up behind me with 1 km to go, that 45 min pacer who I thought I’d lost, spurring me into some extra effort and a sub 45 finish. I managed 12th overall, one place short of a category prize for my last outing as an MV45; but all in all, a satisfying run in the evening sun, thoughts of compulsory school runs banished.
I was the lone Strider in a field of 188 for the 10k. Winner of the men’s race was George O’Connor of Royal Sutton Coldfield Athletic Club in a time of 0:37:22. The women’s race was won by Olivia Harris (unaffiliated) in a time of 0:40:12.
Full results are available on the RunThrough website.