Congleton Harriers running club
On Sunday, one of the club’s signature races took place — the 33rd annual Cloud nine fell race.
The popular race is always over-subscribed and, as its name implies, it is nine miles long and takes the runners from Biddulph Valley Way on a gruelling 1,250ft ascent up to the top of the Cloud, around the woods, over to the Bridestones before wending back down to the finish back on Biddulph Valley Way.
Being an early March race, the weather is always a factor and this year the succession of storms meant the course was saturated and exceedingly muddy. At one point the runners had to negotiate what had effectively become a pond around one of the kissing gates; the only option available was to wade through the middle. The weather itself was kind, with bright sunshine, albeit with a bit of a chill in the air. Fortunately for the runners, the race centre was in the leisure centre which afforded the chance to shower and warm up after the event.
The club, aided by a few other friends from the wider running community, put a lot of effort into making this a friendly, well marshalled event with somewhere between 40-50 volunteers helping out. It certainly meant the runners were given plenty of encouragement while they ran and is one reason why so many keep returning year after year to take part.
The race was won by Simon Bailey (Mercia Fell Runners) in 57.43. He was followed by Lawrence Eccles (Penny Lane Striders) 1.01.04; Jason Brunnock (Buxton AC) 1.01.34; Arran McCloskey 1.02.17; and Julian Goodwin (Boalloy) 1.02.20.
The first five women were. Kate Davies 1.11.55; Carla Brown 1.13.43; Jayne Dickens (Trentham RC) 1.16.04; Amy Grace (South Cheshire Harriers) 1.17.56; Dominique Searle (Vale Royal AC) in 1.18.21.
There were four Congleton Harriers in among the 268 who made it to the start line. Charmaine Wood finished 69th in 1.19.14, James Pearce was 83rd in 1.21.12, Elizabeth Lingford was 108th in 1.24.40 and Stephen Sibbald, in his first race as a Harrier, was 170th in 1.34.13. Wood and Lingford were 2nd in their respective age categories.
The other reason this is such a popular race is the free soup and roll after the event for the runners coupled with the well-stocked charity cake stall. This year’s efforts from the volunteer bakers helped to raise £375 which will be divided between Congleton Food Bank, Astbury Mere Trust and East Cheshire Hospice.
Elsewhere there were three Harriers racing on Anglesey in a race that, again due to weather conditions, made the national news. The day before the race, a tree came down, crushing a passing car. Fortunately, all the occupants were unharmed but it did mean part of the route was blocked. A quick bit of re-routing by the race organisers meant the race could still go ahead. However, it did turn the half marathon into a 13.8-mile run. Out of the 1,198 runners, Paul Crean finished 436th in 2.04.14, Suzie Roscoe was 509th in 2.07.45 and Rachel Flentje was 1145th in 3.02.20.
● The club welcomes new members with club training runs on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Anyone thinking of joining but are unsure of their pace and ability to keep up should consider the Monday runs, which are now being tailored to accommodate new prospective members. Find full details on the Congleton Harriers website, congleton-harriers.co.uk