He did intend to put his feet up for the remainder of the year after recording a brilliant time in the Gingerbread 10K last week, but we got wind of this plan and we think he’s been talked into doing one more race….

Here’s his report from the Gingerbread event in Ormskirk.

While other members of Team JMC were doing insane things on mountain bikes for days on end, or swimming up one of the tallest mountains in England on a bike faster than anyone else’s. I, being very much an amateur, was in simpler surroundings at an event I’d been looking forward to all year. The Ormskirk Rugby Club Gingerbread 10k. It just rolls of the tongue doesn’t it? This race was the one that gave me back my running bug years ago, after years of just ticking by with an annual poke at the Great North Run. This was the last race of the year for me so it had to be a good one after the disappointment of a trip to the seaside a few weeks back.

It’s a fast, quiet race through the farm land of Ormskirk (or O-Town as the natives call it). The course is like a lolly pop, along a long straight (ish) road then two laps and back down the lolly stick to the finish line.

A few days prior to the event, on a training run out through the back of work, I forgot my socks. I decided to run without. Now my running shoes were 8 years old, and have run more miles than I care to remember. Let’s say, the insides are no longer of showroom quality. After 4.5 miles of a training, I had blisters the size of Wales on my feet. It was a hard decision to say goodbye to my old friends, but the time had come to replace them. The day before the run, I decided to pick up a new pair of state-of-the-art bad boys. This race was going to be the first time out with them and could have gone one of two ways…

Another racing first was the new bargain for my wrist in the form of a Garmnin GPS watch (I’m like a magpie; if it beeps and is shiny, I want it). I was finally all prepared, new kit in place, epic trainers and awesome tech.

I was positioned well on the start line, not like the previous race in Southport. I was towards the front of the field a few rows back from the start line. No showboating on this race, as soon as everyone was inside the taped off area, the hooter went.

One lap of a playing filed, one lap of a cricket pitch and out on to the start of the lolly stick. In the last few training runs prior to this, I’d shifted up a gear, blitzing the first two miles as fast as I thought I could. Then it would be a case of settling back to race pace, and all out again for the last mile. The first two miles went just as planned and I could only see those who started in front of me.

The first part of the main lolly pop section was up hill. Every time I do this race I forget actually how draining this is. The apex of the hill is a corner, so once you’re round it, it’s downhill for the 2nd part of the lap. This is more or less half way through, my splits were way under what I was aiming for. I say “way under” I’m talking seconds, but it might as well have been hours the way I was thinking at the time. I was gunning this one. Boshed the second lap out, the uphill section again took its toll, but this time I had started to lap some of the other runners. This was very much new ground for me. Up to the apex again, passed a very angry young man who was shouting expletives at his legs, then it was all downhill. I was a few minutes up on my target by this point and I was not going to let anything stop me now. On to the cricket pitch for the last bit of the race. About 200 meters from the line I went all out like I hadn’t done since I was a teenager. Over the line shouted on by my amazing support crew and the guy on the tannoy. My target was any time starting with 47. Well, it was 45:02. In my mind, all I could say to my self was “Why oh, why oh, why didn’t I start sprinting sooner….”. My support crew ran to me, picked me up and made me realise what I had accomplished this year. I’d gone from only just sub 50 on a good day with a wind assist, to a genuine 45 minute time. This made all those cold, dark early mornings in January and February, the freezing hands and cramp up the hills worth every single step.

Being the norm, the younger member of my support crew swiped my medal and we had a few photos. As I got my breath back, it started to sink in exactly what I’d just done. I’d achieved what I secretly set myself to do on my birthday back in January. The results were published a few days later. The senior member of my support crew was convinced I have come in the top 100. Well it went better than that, 44th. I think I fell on a bit of luck, as a lot of the local club runners were at the Wirral half marathon on the day, but the record books don’t show that, so Yeh for me!

The goals for next year look just about possible after this little one. After a Mad Dog in February, I might even move up the distance back to my old hunting ground of the half marathons. I might even give those two wheel things a bash.


Oh, yeh, and I might have just convince the younger support crew member to earn his own medals in the kid’s races next years as well. He got my gingerbread man this time was well!