The last few years I've gone out of my way to keep the racing fresh by tackling one or two new races each year. Sodue for a visit to my dear mother Pat and I took in the MOONRAKER 10K yesterday taking place nearby to where she lives in North Manchester.
It is based in Bowlee, a part of Middleton and apparently the race is so called because people from the town are often nicknamed "Moonrakers". Fine I thought but was is a Moonraker?
I made prerace enquiries, being told that a Moonraker is a person who on leaving a local hostelry having imbided several pints of a locally brewed beverage sees the reflection of the moon in a puddle outside said hostelry and given to hallucination makes attempts to scoop the moon up. So now you know.
Obviously strong stuff that J.W.Lees ale brewed up in Middleton Junction!
There's always a certain degree of apprehension doing a race for the first time but in trying to give myself a good idea of what was in store I came across this website below which indicated all I needed to know. It showed the route, gradient profile and a little animated man ran around it just to make it clear which way it would go. Great stuff!
The guide indicated (and my warm up confirmed) that we would start uphill and take in a 2K circuit of paths and some trail before exiting the start/finish area to climb up through the adjacent Langley estate. Having ascended to the 3 mile point we would then descend back to the grounds but return to the paths and trail for 1K before finishing. I sense my task will be to pull back as many of the fast starters I can from the 2K point as we ascend to the 5K point.
We turned off the M60 and within minutes turned left up the extremely long and steep start to Heywood Old Road. My mind immediately going back to Sunday afternoons in the '60s doing hill reps up this monster under the guidance and encouragement of Alan Robertshaw, my coach at Sale Harriers. Character building stuff; paving the way for solo efforts to come.
We arrived at Bowlee at 10.00 a.m. and parked easily just yards from the start. No problem. A short walk to enter. No queues;no problem, leaving ample time to warm up.
Royton Roadrunners made up more than a third of the runners as we assembled for the 11.00 a.m.start.
We imediately start to climb and the incline quickly spreads the field as does the narrow single file trail section.
My prediction proves correct as (judging by the video) I am way back in 62 nd place of the 111 starters.
But 8.46 for a hilly 2K isn't too bad I'm thinking. Now to dig in, start working and start overtaking.
It's the next 3K which proves too exacting as the clouds part and the sun breaks through and is felt strongly on the neck and head. My thoughts go to the Tour de France cyclists toiling up mountains. This incline through the housing pales by comparison but still it takes us over 5 mins per K in places. But as I thought I'm suffering less than others and going through.
From 5K we are rewarded with a downhill/ flat second section to 9K and the last K despite yet another short off road section returns a 4:06 including the sprint along the finishing straight to just dip under 45 minutes in 44:57. Good enough for 1st M60. I finish 41st having overtaken 21 from the 2K point.
So to conclude if you are looking for a fast, flat 10K on a perfect road surface this is NOT the one for you.
But if you prefer a challenging undulating event with a mix of terrain, easy parking, no queues for toilets etc.
chance of a shower after, reasonable prizes, a reasonable "goodie bag" and very good post race refreshment
all this could be yours for just £8.