Blackburn’s 10k Winter Warmer and the strangeness of running folk.

Today was the big day, my first training hurdle, the Blackburn Winter Warmer 10k.

After peeling myself away from bed at the relatively disgusting time of 7.25am on Valentines Day, eating copius muesli (for its low glycemic index, maximum righteousness etc) and de-icing the car, I was ready to rattle down the M6.

Imagine the scene. Three-hundred hardened runners were mulling around the Witton Park Pavilion – an old cricket-hut type bulding set in fields and amongst some daunting looking hills. I, as everyone pretty much knows, am less intimidating than a doughnut but some of the people I walked past were at least 95 per cent solid protein.

As I picked up my race number from the stewards behind their little Formica tables, I heard one particularly meaty looking bloke – by which I mean he actually resembled one massive piece of ham – say to his stringy looking friend, “I’ve done the course already this morning, just going to go and get some PowerMax!”


Most people were part of a race team, mulling around talking about their best times and doing stretches I have never seen before, wearing £90 trainers and clad from head to toe in Lucozade-sponsored kit. I must have looked like a lost spectator.

A siren blares and we set off. Once round the athletics track and up a steep 4k climb to the peak of Blackburn. This was by far the worst bit of the run, made even more painful by the fact that you knew, as you struggled up this relentless countryside, that this was only the start of the race.

Later, Chris informed me that back at the Pavilion an organiser had announced, over the tanoy system, that one runner had collapsed and was being treated by paramedics. On the hill, I was still considering faking a heart attack to get a lift back to camp by the kind looking ambulance men with their warm looking ambulance.

At the peak of the run there is an amazing view of the countryside spread out before you like a huge king-sized bed. I was glad I wasn’t in a running club for that mile, and that I didn’t have my music with me.

This morning Blackburn was covering in a layer of hazy mist and dew. It was like God baked a world and then finished it off with icing sugar. I guess in that simile I would represent a pink sprinkle.

The last 5k were all fairly steep down hill, across roads, up through woods and back across football pitches, rugby pitches and, at one point, a burger van. You know you’re engaged in a hardcore sporting activity when you see 50 men run towards it and not one of them is reaching for a bacon butty.

By the time I reached 10k – at 56 minutes and beating my own personal target of not dying – I was beat.

There was a man who finished not that long after me who was in his 70s and has ran the Blackburn race every year for the past ten. I hobbled over to say thank you to him, because as I overtook him about half way round (he was still going at a good speed) he shouted, in a rough voice “Well done Lassie!”

I told him it was my first 10k and that I was training to, eventually, do a half marathon. He gave me a wry smile “Ah well next year it’ll be much easier for you – you’ll know the course. And the year after that, and that. You don’t think you’ll ever give this up now you’ve started do you?”

I guess I have already become quite fond of my runs, like smokers look forward to smoking. With the way I run – neck stuck out like a swan, arms flailing – smoking would probably be healthier for me, but there’s something about running.


One Response to “Blackburn’s 10k Winter Warmer and the strangeness of running folk.”

  1. 😀 Nicely written, small one xx

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