For my 25th race of the year, and a week after the Athens Marathon, I found myself ensconced in the Swan pub just outside Knutsford, in Cheshire, next to the Premier Inn where I was staying with the lovely #UKRUNCHAT peeps Colin (@LufcColin) , Caterina (CaterinaPresi) and Sarah (@SarahDevall).
This race entered my calendar in much the same vein as the Yorkshire marathon. DM group with the aforementioned peeps, check of calendar to see if I was free and the next thing anyone knew we had found a race, and were booked into a hotel (two in my case), had a restaurant booked and I was already on the hunt for a post-race pub lunch.
But this was after a long day of contrasting train journeys. The first from London to Stockport (first class on a Virgin intercity train) was great, but the second leg from Stockport to Knutsford was basically on Ivor the Engine.
It was a rattling and old, I have to say, diesel train. And as I went through tiny little places on the way to Knutsford I wondered what I was getting myself into before I met the kids and checked into my first Premier Inn (too hot, too noisy, no bath, weird dripping sound all night but a comfortable bed – no Lenny Henry in sight).
The race was touted as the Tatton Park 10K and Half, with the great people at RunThrough providing the manpower for RunTatton. It is a historical estate in Cheshire, with a beautiful mansion (that we didn’t see), ornamental Italian garden (that we didn’t get to see), and Japanese garden including Shinto shrine (that we didn’t get to see).
Not seeing any of the farm, or listed buildings or the aforementioned highlights is annoying, given we ended up having to do two loops of parkland and road, when the whole race could have been in the grounds, like the Lionshead 10 at Longleat) rather than having us stuck away from it all.
I was glad to see the RunThrough.co.uk people as we arrived and it was good to see Matty after his Uganda Marathon trip. It was raining, not hard, but enough to add to the cold and the misery as we queued for coffee after what was an annoying drive in. The race was only a couple of kilometres away from our hotel but the traffic was literally to our hotel and beyond, and you can only imagine the same, if not worse, coming the other way. We left at 8:15 and didn’t get parked up until gone a quarter to nine. I know of plenty of people who turned around and went home rather than persisting. The issue was a bottle neck, where the two very busy roads met and a beleaguered marshal attempted to get people to play nice and filter. Once through though, it took a matter of minutes to park in one of the fields in the park.
It was raining and so Cat, Sarah and I left our bags in the car, whilst Col brought his along, only to discovered that there was no bag drop. This is a bit of a no-no, as people want to get warm and dry as quickly as possible after a cold, wet run.
Cold, wet and muddy. Here is the route.
It would be two loops, although the park is big enough not to have to have them, with a 10K beforehand leading the way. There is a portion on the road too. You ran through the park on the paths, up and into the woods and down and along by the lake. You then exited the park and turned onto a country lane for a few kilometres before double back and into the park again and to the start for the second lap. The wooded bits were a bit mulchy, but the paths were otherwise clear. It was a little crowded as well, especially when the traffic forced us onto one lane. So there are never any photos by yourself, only surrounded by runners (of all things).
How I did
I was slow. I have been limping whilst walking normally, so the run was excruciating. Imagine putting a drawing pin into you running shoe and going for a run. That is how it felt. Saw Steve quite a bit, he was just ahead of me, with Cat just ahead of him, so I waved on the out and backs. Also saw Emma from Manchester too, and kept pace with her until the sprint (and I say that jokingly) finish. So a slow 2:10 for me (another red on the spreadsheet), 15 mins slower than normal and I know I could do so much better. Still, it was faster than the boozathon at Bacchus, so thankful for small mercies there.
There is a lot of negativity about regarding this race and those did let it down. I know Matty and the guys will work on them for next year, and those improvements will allow me to recommend the race. The list of points that need addressing are:
- No bag drop. So, despite it being freezing cold and raining hard, we had to go back to the car to warm up and get into dry clothes.
- Traffic 1. After the 10K we ended up sharing the path with cars leaving. Some people were also allowed to start late and so were mixed in with the traffic which was quite dangerous.
- Traffic 2. Half way through the second lap, even more traffic, this time cars coming into the park meant we were crammed into a narrow path together.
- Two water stops and no jelly babies or any other fuel. For a half I would add at least some fuelling.
- A Mile marker (6 I think) was in completely the wrong place and both KM markers 6 and 7, or 7 and 8 (on the road bit) were exactly 2K wrong.
- And to mention the road bit. People were disappointed they had to leave the park and run along a country road for a while. Clearly the Tatton Park estate is large enough for the entire race to be within it. In fact, it is probably large enough to run around without doing two laps. We didn’t even see the stately home and gardens, and it felt like Tatton Park wanted the income from all the runners without affecting those who wanted to visit the house.
- Also no loos on the route, so needed to get to the end if you needed to go.
- No food post-race! There was a bacon butty van that smelled great before the start that was gone by the time we finished leaving, of all things, an ice cream truck (it was 4 degrees and raining).
And you can’t really complain about the weather, it is not the fault of the race organizers. If anything they should be commended for letting the race go ahead when larger races down south got cancelled.
Still there is a lot to be happy about. The free t-shirt which was dry and did the trick, flap jacks and free massages were good. All a bonus. And free photos!
How I did
Slow 2:10, the slowest for a long while due to PF and heel spurs.
I have run my fair share, probably more than my fair share actually, of RunThrough races and the London park medals are normally titchy, yet unique and normally entertaining (esp the Wimbledon common Womble races . This was for RunTatton, and is pretty good sized and a fun and unique medal.
Would I recommend the Tatton Park 10K and Half marathon weekend? If the issues listed are fixed then sure, and if the weather is better definitely.
Would I run the Tatton Park 10K and Half marathon again? No.
It was wonderful to finally meet Cat, Colin and Sarah, Steve too. And I wish we had more time. Maybe at the Yorkshire mara we will.
Race traditions are not for everyone, so eating a nice big Sunday lunch in the pub with multiple beers after the race wasn’t something I got to do – shame as that is my favourite aspect of running. It was great to spend the weekend with the guys, but I look forward to having a good post race pub lunch when I race in London for the last run of the year at the:
209 EVENTS SANTA RUN