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2017 TAC Club Champs
POSTED BY ADRIAN BLACKLEDGE ON 13 NOVEMBER 2017

The 2017 Club Championships were never supposed to happen for me. I had one goal for 2017 and that was to complete the Lakeland 50 at the end of July. No Pendle and Burnley Grand Prix and no Club Champs. Maybe take part in a few of the Club Champs and GP races that fitted in well with training and were interesting, but not try and complete either series. With the final champs race of 2017 last weekend being my tenth of the twelve races, that plan clearly went out of the window!

There has been rivalry through the summer, and some would think that it has been taken very seriously, but in reality I’ve been winding Adam up, he’s been giving his dad grief (all will be explained later), and a tactical Wriggers has been called into service.

Fell runners have run on tarmac and road runners have diced with death on the muddy hills, but throughout the year a thoroughly good time has been had by all with a lot of friendly banter along the way.

It all started with Ron Hill Accy 10K, where Adam and I both ran a far too fast first 1km (3:30-ish) and subsequently both died a slow death up the Greenway! Then there was Pendle Running Festival 10K where I “chose” to run the 10K and not the half marathon, which was in no way a tactical decision, nope, never, not at all!

The Full Bronte saw me and Adam racing again. For those that don’t know, it’s a 5 mile 2-lap race with a “bit of a hill” in it. Mark Hawthornthwaite set off like a steam train and was a good 20-30m in front of Adam and me by the time we hit “the hill” for the first time. Mark had however not realised that the hill existed and we managed to haul him back in by the top of the climb. I ran with Adam for the rest of the first lap, passing Briscoe along the way. Then we hit “the hill” again and Adam slowly pulled away. There was simply no way I could stay with him, despite my best efforts, and he took the win. The only thing that stopped me from slowing down further was Adam’s comment when we were together on the first lap of “Don’t let Briscoe beat us!”

This brings us to the now legendary Pennington Flash trial race. Now I didn’t have a good race that day, and felt pretty sluggish. I stayed with Adam, Wriggers and Martin for the first km or so, then they slowly started to pull away. Adam and I were on a very similar points standing at this point of the year, and when David Howard passed me with about 1km to go, I thought “there goes yet another point”. I managed to kick when we joined the track for the last 300m and passed David to re-gain that point. This resulted in the following exchange after the finish: Adam “Dad you could have at least held Adrian off until the end”, David’s response “I could have, but didn’t want to sprint”, needless to say, Adam was not pleased. If it had come down to that 1 point at the end of the champs, “I didn’t want to sprint” would have come back to haunt David!

By far the most enjoyable race of the series was Yarrow River Splash, a lovely trail run through woods, fields and some pretty muddy forest trails (it was more like XC in places), oh and a small matter of a river crossing! Now Adam had completed the Hardmoors Ultra on the Saturday, and was in no fit state to race, but to ensure he completed the champs’ required eight qualifying races, he did. This must be the bravest race start I’ve seen, with Adam struggling to even walk to the start line, let alone run. He did however employ his secret weapon, Wriggers, with the sole instruction delivered seconds before the start to “take points off Adrian”. Ensuring that this was the case, Wriggers ran the first mile in sub-6 minutes, which considering it was off road, not flat and on a narrow path is no mean feat. Obviously, he dropped me and I only saw him once for the rest of the race, about 200m ahead at under half race distance across an open field. Following the finish, we were dispatched by Verity to jog back round the course to “find” Adam. He was located at the river crossing, staggering, almost collapsing into the river, which was in reality just a foot deep big stream. Running with Adam to the finish, he found a turn of speed for the last km and finished strongly, albeit a bit further down the field than normal!

It is also worth pointing out that the first of two Club Champs completely selfless act took place at that Yarrow River race. Jamie chose not to race and let Roxanne run, whilst he looked after new-born Huey. Jamie was leading the trail champs, and would have secured the win if he’d run, no matter where he’d finished, but he chose to forgo the opportunity and let Rox run her comeback race. I think that makes up for driving Jamie home from LL50 at 3am.

At the start of the last race of the series “Through the Villages”, a slightly hilly 8.5 mile road race, I’d done the maths, and was pretty sure that the only person who could challenge me was Mr Braithwaite. I was fully expecting to see him arrive at the start line in his usual manner with only seconds to spare, but despite Mark Duerden winding me and Adam up, he was nowhere to be seen. That allowed a relatively trouble free if somewhat slow run to complete the series, and the second selfless act of the Club Champs. Wriggers “allowed” Adam to pass him on the line to gain an extra point. Adam is adamant (no not the '80s guy singing Stand and Deliver) that this was all above board and he out sprinted Wriggers, but I have other ideas, and I would in no way suggest that money changed hands #Tactics #Lifthome #Bromance.

At the end of the series, we’ve had 102 different club members take part in at least one Champs race and a total of 261 race entries for Club Champs races. The Road, Trail, Fell and Overall competitions have been decided for both Female and Male, and all that remains is to draw the “raffle” for a week’s stay for four in the Lake District. This will take place at the TAC Christmas Do on 2nd December. As each club member receives one entry for each Club Champs race completed there are 261 names going into the draw, and the odds especially for Adam and Tanya with their penchant for horse racing, are 1/29 and 1/261 respectively.

With the 2017 Champs over, I can say that I will absolutely, definitely, no way, be doing the 2018 series. Jamie, when’s the first race, and when will the full series be released? I need to plan holidays so I don’t miss any!

And a final message. You don’t have to be the best runner to do well in the Club Champs, you need to be consistent and do the races. I’m no way the fastest, I just turned up regularly. So if you are thinking “what’s the point, I’ll never win anything” - don’t! Turn up and do some next year, they are fun and you never know, you might do better than you expected.

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