Sunday, April 1, 2012

The French Invasion of Lancaster

Against a low tide the French steamed up the River Lune unbeknown to most of the local inhabitants on a calm, quiet and sunny Sunday morning. The French then proceeded to destroy the Lune’s bridges before turning back downstream to reap the bountiful rewards…
Or something like that…
Six Eden Runners ventured out into God’s Own County Palatine of Lancashire to the Lancaster Three Bridges race, and it turned out to be one doozy of a day with an impressive clutch of five (possibly 6 when we get in touch with Larry again!) personal bests, wrested from this flat and fast course!
It is well sited and utilises a lot of cycle-ways and riverside footpaths that afford a slightly scenic setting along with plenty shade – I wasn’t expecting it to be so sunny – so those trees came in handy!
Paul had kindly driven Tanya, Wade and myself down the M6 and the in-flight chatter was such that the journey passed in a jiffy. We met up with Larry Horne (new ER member) and the man of the moment Johnny French before the start, which nearly ended in a hokey-cokey or Auld Lang’s Syne type scenario as we all tried to shake hands at the same time, then after the countdown the green and blue and black sock-ed  blur set off and the rest of the pack followed, as they did for the remainder of the whole 10k – INCLUDING at one point the official race route finder who Johnny passed as he carried his bike up the steps at the bridge – so not only race leader but trail blazer too!
Whether it was the flat course or the sparse pack I did manage to keep the shirts of Wade, Paul and Tanya in view – so that feels like an improvement on my part!
The steps up the bridge were a unique experience for me, and they slowed most of the competitors to a crawl, but fortunately I didn’t heed Wades pre-race ‘advice’ of “because there were trips and falls in the race last year the organisers have requested that everyone does the steps backwards…”
Think of the date folks……
The course was well signed and marshalled throughout, which is just as well as it was on public highways and by-ways there were quite a few cyclists, walkers and Sunday morning anglers to be dodged!  If the low point (well, hardest point, not low) was the steps at the bridge then the hallelujah moment came when two marshalls at the 6 mile point helpfully shouted out the times on their stop watches. It was just the spur that a flagging-pb hunting runner required before the end – the gap through the trees to the Salt Aire running track allowed me to realise that there was not going to be the final 400m dash lap – but that it was barely a 100m sprint to the finish which necessitated dredging up the reserves to get under the post under the 48 minute mark! After I was handed a medal by a slightly confused young lass (child labour? Get Wade on the case!) it was only then when we all swapped notes that it dawned that the day really belonged to Eden. With Johnny storming home at 34.15 – a clear 43 seconds of the next man, Larry at 44.20, Wade at 45.27, Paul 46.31, Tanya 46.47 (10th lady overall and first female Vet 35 –I have her pink cava in my possession to prove it!) and me bringing up the rear (least said soonest mended..) at 47.57 it is suffice to say we were all a fair bit chuffed with ourselves and made it known by being the chief rabble rousers at the awards ceremony! Johnny and Tanya got to exercise their skills in nonchalance when picking up their loot (too cool by far!) while we cheered and applauded, then apologised to the poor woman we nearly deafened with our exuberance!
Will I be back next year? Course I will… if only to ensure that next time I bound up those flippin steps rather than dragging myself up them cursing.. Everyone needs a nemesis to beat!....
Next (official) stop – Langdale, see you there! :)

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