Today I finished the apparently iconic Tour of Tameside. I’d never heard of it until last year when running club people put themselves through four days of racing, and I thought they were a bit mad and very brave. I have since learnt this race has a long history, founded by the legend that is Dr Ron Hill in the 80s, and relaunched in 2015.
As it is a local event I couldn’t let the opportunity to run it pass by. I must have been keen in signing up as I was number 84 out 300 and something running numbers. I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. The event is a multi-stage event over four day, totally 32 miles on trail and road.
- Thursday night – X-Trail 10k around two country parks in Ashton-Under-Lyne
- Friday night – Hell on the Fell 6 mile race (a mix of road and fell) in Stalybridge
- Saturday morning – Hero Half Marathon along the Longdendale Trail from Hadfield and back again.
- Sunday morning – The Dr Ron Hyde 7 road race
I’m going to write about each race separately as a full race report but for now these are my overall reflections after a gruelling and emotional few days. Looking at the overall results I came 8th out of 23 finishers in my age category across the four races with a total time of 05:24:49. I gave it my all and I’m made up with that as a result.
I’ve learnt a lot about how amazing the human body is and what it can achieve if you really want to go running day after day. I don’t think I have ever run for four days in a row before and certainly not at the intensity of four races in a row. But I did it and at times it wasn’t as awful as I had feared. Even after Friday night when my back was seized up and I definitely did not want to get out of bed.
I already knew the running community is great. But seriously, people are amazing. The running community is amazing.
Thank you to all my fellow Greyhounds, and others from local clubs, taking part in the full tour or the individual events. Without those wonderful people the experience would have been a lonely affair. Thank you for the generous offer of lifts to and from the more difficult to get to races saving me the stress of ridiculous public transport journeys.
Thank you to the Greyhounds out and about around the course for each race to cheer us on. Seeing friendly faces pop up in the most unexpected (and sometimes remote of locations) was such a boost. When you are battling up a never-ending hill and look up to supportive faces cheering you on, it really does help. And believe me, the Tour of Tameside has more than it’s share of seemingly never-ending hills.
Thank you to the random strangers running the race that became friendly faces over the course of the four days. Thank you to those who were there when some run chat distractions were needed, and thank you to those who were there to keep me going at a good pace rather than fading to a stop. Thank you to those who remember your face or your running vest and offer words of encouragement when passing by each other during a race.
Events like the Tour of Tameside really go to show how many fantastic people there are in running.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a runner and as a person doing this event. I know that I am capable of more than I previously believed. It was exhausting and there were some very low moments (half marathon I’m looking at you!) but also some big highs. I managed to get a PB in the 10k. An all time PB on a hilly trail course! I learnt that I can run in hot weather and survive. I have also leant that deep freeze gel is essential, as is booking time off work if possible.
Right now I’m actually feeling ok physically. It is more the emotional toll of back to back races. Now it is celebration time.